Normal nourishes numbers
  |  First Published: September 2014

A few prolonged periods of clearer and calmer weather over the past month has really given a good old shot in the arm to the fishing on the bay. While the encouraging reports have no doubt increased due to more anglers wetting a line, more settled periods of weather have allowed water clarity to improve, and for more normal feeding activities to resume by many popular species.

The other impact to general angler traffic and activity along the eastern shoreline at this time of year is the various other winter options available elsewhere in the bay, and further afield as well. Far south of PPB is currently fishing very well for whiting and calamari, and Western Port is turning up some lovely winter snapper, particularly in the north of the bay.

The recent settled conditions have no doubt also had a positive influence on the offshore fishing. Recent southern bluefin captures and reports from Tathra, Bermagui and Narooma are nothing short of amazing.

Call me loyal, or maybe lazy, or both, but I still love fishing my local waters at this time of year. The line burning runs, and cricket score captures might not be there, but there’s always great reward for your efforts when you have success during quieter times of the year on the bay.

A recent lure fishing afternoon session on the bay with my mate Pete took me back 15 years or so, when I first started fishing soft plastics for snapper with my crazy old mate Adam Royter. It had been a fair while since I last fished this way, and I forgot how much fun you can have. While most of the pinkies we caught were well and truly undersized, they made up for it with vigour and willingness to eat our lures. As well as these, we also landed wrasse, red mullet and flathead and went home with a nice feed for the table.

Expect this inshore action to continue during better weather for the next couple of months until the bigger snapper arrive to spawn. Areas like Sunnyside, Frankston Wreck, Canadian Bay, Fishies Beach all have lots of scattered reefs to explore, and this is best done from a drifting boat casting soft plastics, or even trolling bibbed lures, which is also very effective. This fishing is a great way to teach kids and newcomers to lure fishing, as the action is normally constant, even during the middle of the day. The other plus is that other species like squid are also in the same area and can even be effectively targeted by leaving a jig out of the back of the boat while drifting over the reef.

Peak activity occurs during first and especially last light, and one of the more exciting elements is knowing that you are never far away from a 1-2kg snapper, which can really pull the kinks out of light line, or you kid’s arms! It’s worth mentioning at this point that care needs to be taken with undersized pinkies to return them to the water unharmed. They are the future of our fishery so take care and let them swim for another day.

As far as other reports go, I have still had a couple of encouraging emails from anglers landing the odd snapper from the rocks around Bradford Road, particularly after a long blow, and the use of fresh bait, predominantly squid, seems to be doing the damage. Most boating mission on the reds have been confined to Western Port of late, but a few solid fish have been taken by anglers targeting gummies out wide from Safety Beach and further south.

Schools of salmon have been going strong right along the eastern shoreline all year, and they continue to pop up close to shore, especially around Mornington and Frankston, and also further south. Late afternoon seem to be the best of late, and switched on anglers have been hitting the piers, jetties and rocks around this time to tangle with a few sambos. Metal slugs are your best bet giving you good casting distance, and surface lures are also very effective, particularly in the extreme shallows where the salmon love to hunt.

Inshore calamari has been a little tough of late, with boating anglers doing better on deeper reefs, and also shore-based squidders in patches of cleaner and clearer water. Brighter jigs are the go at this time of year, as well as moving your jig a lot slower to get a take from a squid.

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