As the seasons begin to change and daylight hours dwindle there’s still plenty on offer for anglers across the western flank of Port Phillip. During this transitional phase expect pinkie snapper, whiting, bream, mulloway and many other species to continue feeding hard in the lead up to winter.
Late season King George whiting are definitely still on the agenda with some terrific bags taken from Avalon around to Werribee South, along with good numbers of flathead and squid. Bag limit catches of whiting averaging 33-38cm, with some pushing 40cm plus, have succumbed to pippies and mussels. Jack Auld and his mates, George and Adam, managed some rippers whilst anchored in 3m of water off Wedge Spit. A burley pot filled with chopped pilchards was used to help draw and hold fish in the area.
The 20th Werribee South Whiting Classic, hosted by Werribee South Fishing Club, was held last month in near perfect conditions with overcast skies and a light breeze to ripple to the surface. According to club secretary, Phil Walters, 40 anglers entered the competition with more than half presenting fish at the weigh station. Russel Kerley took out the champion angler prize for the heaviest whiting at 505gm, whilst his mate, Paul Dean, managed the best bag of five for 2.45kg.
Flesh baits presented on the drift from Apex Park through to Altona Pier has been accounting for some quality flathead and they should continue to feed with intent across the shallow sand and mud flats for at least another month before tapering off as winter approaches.
While many of the snapper leave the bay shortly after spawning, those that remain tend to move closer to shore during autumn, often forming dense schools over surprisingly shallow ground. Baitfish profile and worm pattern soft plastics are proven performers on the resident pinkies, but don’t be surprised if a larger red latches on and heads for the horizon. Over the past few years the Easter weekend through to ANZAC Day has produced some impressive off-season snapper over the shallow reef just out from Williamstown Football Ground.
Some lengthy snook, or short finned pike as they’re also known, have been a common catch in this area of late, particularly for those trolling diving minnows and metal lures. Likewise, Australian salmon have been active at times, with large schools spotted busting up bait between Point Gellibrand and Port Melbourne on the run out tides.
Bream have been taken on small diving minnows in the shallows near the mouth of the Yarra River at Newport, particularly during overcast conditions. The Williamstown jetties and yacht moorings have also produced some solid bream recently with both lures and fresh mussel accounting for fish to 36cm, with the occasional flathead and pinkie snapper thrown in for good measure.
The boys from In Depth Angler teamed up with Dale Baxter for a two pronged assault on the Maribyrnong River bream recently. With Darren Weda and Nathan Grass in the boat and Dale on his trusty pedal powered kayak, the resident bream didn’t stand a chance with some solid specimens succumbing to Cranka Crabs presented up against the bridge pylons and deeper rock ledges. Similar action on the bream can be expected over the coming months, along with the odd pinkie snapper and school mulloway which generally start to show up during April.
It’s been great to see Fisheries Officers stationed at the top of K-Road cliffs recently in an effort to ensure anglers are adhering to the recreational fishing guidelines. The following summary, as supplied by Senior Communications Adviser - Marc Ainsworth, outlines some of the observations made by Fisheries Officers on the Werribee River of late. “The lower Werribee River is regularly patrolled by Fisheries Officers in both uniform and plain clothes. The area is operationally targeted at varying times of the day and night to check and maintain compliance. The compliance rate with regulations is quite high. Officers have only issued 6 infringements in the last month, mainly for exceeding the 2 rod limit, as it is classed as inland waters. Adherence to requiring a fishing licence or exemption, and only taking bream over 28cm, is high. The main issues that Officers have, and are encountering regularly, is the amount of litter being left behind, and the illegal camp fires maintained by the general fishing public who frequent the area.
In other news, the Werribee River has received 32,000 estuary perch fingerlings in an attempt to improve angling opportunities for residents west of Melbourne. The 1cm fingerlings, bred at a private hatchery in Narooma using brood stock collected from the Glenelg and Hopkins rivers in Victoria’s west, were released along various parts of the freshwater reaches of the Werribee River, both above and below the diversion weir wall. It will be interesting to see whether they survive, grow and contribute to the fishery over the coming years.
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