January is boom time on the peninsula. The numbers swell by tens of thousands and it represents an important part of the commercial cycle for all us business people down here!
The exciting part of the huge summer crowds is the volume of reports we receive. It shows not only the numbers of fish down here but also the diversity of species available at this time of year. From yellowtail kings through to whiting, snapper, flathead and sharks, it’s a month that offers almost everything!
As we have moved further through the season it’s great to report that we have had a significantly better year in the south of the bay than we did last year. Having said that, it has still not necessarily been the hottest season of all time but this probably falls in line with the expectations outlined by Fisheries in their study of annual snapper spawns.
The deeper water in 20m on the east side of the channel and the 22m on the west side, off Mt Martha, has seemingly been the most productive for those out targeting reds. While the next few weeks through January often represent a quieter period on the snapper as we inch back into Feb it would be well worth pushing west and fishing around the southern end of the aqua culture lease off Mud Island, which no doubt will yield some big late season fish for those wishing to fish through full tides.
With both political parties promising some form of netting-ban moving into the future, it was a great result for all recreational anglers and, importantly, the King George whiting. And while the netting ban may take some years to come into full effect, I am excited about what the future holds for whiting fishing both on the peninsula and Corio Bay, two areas netted extensively for King George.
Unfortunately, the reports on the whiting front have been a bit sporadic on our local grounds. Some are lucky, some are not, and while fish are taken on a given day at Blairgowrie and Rye on the weed beds, the following day they can also have disappeared. Western Port continues to fish well but the next two months will be the true tell-tale of how our local grounds shape up for the season.
My tip would be to dedicate a bit of time to your whiting fishing this year. If you take the time to fish different areas, concentrating on the ebb tide, you will find them. Areas to try include the weed beds at the Pinnace Channel, Point Nepean (although the window to fish is only short), Portsea wide off the pier in 9m, and the middle sands around Blaigowrie, Rye and Sorrento in 4-6m of water.
We have had unusually good reports of both big sand flathead and big blue spot flathead from right around the peninsula. From anglers catching them as by-catch while snapper fishing to those casting plastics from the beach along the shallow sand gutters at Rosebud and Rosebud West, we have seen some absolute crackers this season. The largest fish we heard taken went 98cm, yes you read that correctly, with many in the 50-60cm range.
In February, the peninsula breathes a sigh of relief. While January is an exciting time it is also busy, noisy and filled with boats, jet-skis, people and traffic. February for me represents a moment to get out reclaim a piece of water and have a fish in peace and quiet. Targeting species such as gummy shark can be effective and seems more productive when there is less boat traffic around. However, the last couple of seasons have seen the yellowtail kings fire up around this period and that tends to bring its own little level of crazy with it.
If the kings return in good numbers again this year, do us all a favour and make sure you fish the Heads area responsibly. There have been some serious whispers that the Port of Melbourne Corporation has some serious aspirations to ban fishing in this area and that is made a whole lot easier if people do the wrong thing around the big boats.
For more information feel free to drop in and see the boys at Peninsula Compleat Angler, 11 Boneo Road in Rosebud or phone: 03 5981 1994.Reads: 593