Winter wonderland erupts in fury
  |  First Published: August 2014

The unseasonal warmth and mild weather we experienced last month is certainly a thing of the past. Light winds and calm seas have given way to the other nasty side of mother nature over much of the past month on the bay, and even though the fishing opportunities have been a little more limited and confined to more sheltered areas, it has still been an awesome spectacle at times.

At the time of writing, we have just come back through the end of a major front that has lasted for the best part of two and a half weeks. Strong westerly winds have been lashing the eastern shoreline, and we have also received more than our fare share of rain to go with the bargain. Although water colour and general clarity has been affected by these conditions, especially in closer to shore, the bay will benefit long term as the reefs and food chain are given a real boost.

The worst of the weather onslaught came to town with winds up to 150kmh and 5 metre seas. At my home town of Mornington, the pier which is currently under reconstruction got a real battering. Breaking waves shifted the worksite shed to the other side of the car park, and covered 30ft cranes parked in the pier construction zone. To see the power of the bay at full steam is really amazing, and plenty of people took advantage of various photo opportunities. Thanks to Cameron McCullough for the attached pic.

As I mentioned earlier, concentrating your efforts around more sheltered areas has been the key. Schooling fish like salmon, mullet, gars, pinkies and squid will take shelter in these areas, and switched on anglers can cash in. Look for backs of bays in the lee of the wind and swell as a good place to start. A variety of baits and lures are worth trying but keep in mind that the fish in these areas will be on the hunt for a variety of food, and will take lures as well, so the action can be frantic. The use of berley and a variety of presentations is advisable too, and keep an eye on other anglers in the area for any signs of action.

Other key areas to work on are those that have been fully exposed to wind and swell after the conditions have subsided, as some of the fish will continue to feed in these areas. Snapper in particular are renowned for this behaviour, and larger 3-5kg fish are frequently taken inside the Mornington harbour after a big blow. No doubt these fish have been grazing around this area for food that has been concentrated in the area after the big blow.

As you can imagine, reports have been a little light on this week, but I still have received regular reports of bream, mullet and salmon being taken in the Patterson River by both bait and lure anglers. The Patto provides a sheltered and very safe location during the ordinary weather, so is well worth a try. The humble scrub worm is prime bream bait when the water is dirty, and oily fish baits will account for the rest of the bread and butter species. Last season at this time of the year there was a few EP’s around as well, so keep a lure handy as well if you’re keen.

Pinkies and salmon will be the mainstay species over the next month or so, as well as the good old winter flathead in the shallows. All of these species can be easily targeted from the shore, as well as from the boat. Personally, I love lure fishing for these species at this time of year when weather permits, and if you’re after a feed of fish for the family its pretty hard to beat. Reef areas in 3-6 metres are the best places to target, and keep your eyes on the surface, or on the look out for birds for feeding salmon. Flatties can be targeted right on the shore in the first gutter, and are suckers for a slow wound worm plastic, or minnow hard bodied lure.

Squid can be a little harder to catch at this time of year but finding calm and clear water is the key. Move your jigs slower at this time of year, and a little scent doesn’t hurt either. Bigger jigs are worth a shot as well, as the calamari will look to expend less energy for their food.

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