Western Port welcomes winter
  |  First Published: May 2015

Feel the cold? I certainly do, and while once upon a time I might have been all gung-ho about fishing rain, hail or shine, these days I seem to be a little more selective with my fishing sessions.

Still, there will always be those diehards who brave the almost arctic conditions and head out whether it is on the Port itself or from rocks, sand or timber eager to catch a fish. Some pride themselves on their successes sharing their catch amongst their friends on social media, (which is well-deserved from my point of view) while others hide away catching quality fish that go unnoticed to the online world. Why? Because they are in fear that next week, their ‘honey hole’, which they fought so hard to protect, will be discovered and the next time they return, will be infiltrated by danglers and ‘fished out’.

Personally speaking, this is a very sore point for myself. I have been constantly hounded to give up land-based fishing locations over the years and while I often refrained to, ended up publishing a book, Land Based Fishing Guide to Western Port, Phillip Island & Surrounds, giving away all the advice I could. Some have asked me why and the answer is simple, if one person catches a fish off the advice I have given, then I am one very happy person and have done my job well.

Simply speaking, you can have all the knowledge handed to you on a silver platter, but if you not willing to put in the effort to fish in the dark, when it is raining, snowing or blowing a 100km/h winds then you’re not going to work out when a particular location fishes at its best.

Fishing, especially land-based fishing, is all about fishing at the right time, with the right gear and for particular species. If you just going to dangle a bait over the pier with a size 4/0 suicide in hope to catch mullet, then I wouldn’t be worrying if you find someone fishing at the same ‘secret location’ that you fish.

Now, with that aside, let’s get down to the fishing. Land-Based, it is all about to happen. While we move closer towards winter, salmon, silver trevally, flathead, mullet, garfish, pike, snook, calamari and gummy shark will be the prime targets.

Many weekend anglers will go where it is easy, the local piers, and while they do fish well picking the tides is imperative if you want to go home with a feed of fresh fish.

Stony Point has been fishing well during the run-out tide for garfish and mullet. Garfish can be caught just under the surface using a float setup while mullet are a bottom feeder and are best targeted using a paternoster rig. Both species respond well to berley with pipi baits used for mullet and silver fish for the gars.

Local angler Darren Methers managed 16 garfish fishing into the evening one Friday and backed it up on the following Saturday night with another 23.

Another popular pier to fish from throughout winter is at Cowes. Cowes does become crowded during the weekend evenings but providing you’re fishing two hours either side of a high tide, you’re in with a very good chance at catching a gummy shark, seven-gill shark or elephant as they begin heading back to deeper waters offshore.

Some good flathead can also be caught from Cowes Pier. Adrian Smith flicked through a report via my Facebook page and ended up with a flatty of 55cm.

Aside from fishing from the timber, many of the beaches are also fishing well and will continue to do so. Stockyard Point is continuing to produce elephants and they will begin to taper off now but you are still in with a very good chance of hooking a gummy or two.

Lang Lang has also been firing with gummy sharks caught on the high tide. Garry from Cranbourne fished with his mate Gerry and managed two nice table-sized gummies.

This beach always fairs well for those wanting a relaxing location to fish of an evening.

Before I totally forget about those fishing from a boat, particular locations have also been very productive. The Western Entrance has been producing some very nice gummy sharks to 12kg, which will be about the standard for the winter period. Though the odd larger fish might come along, smaller males will be the norm. Amongst them, expect some big seven-gill sharks to a whopping 120kg, so ensure you have your tackle is up to spec, otherwise you’ll lose them.

If it is gummies you’re after and maybe the odd giller, refrain from using wire at all costs. Wire leader will deter sharks so instead, rig up with an 80lb leader and 6/0-8/0 size Mustad Demon hook. The circle will pin the jaw and you’ll still catch the shark using a mono leader.

Shaun Furtiere from Think Big Charters has had many a good session of late with a mixture of gummy sharks and seven -gill sharks. During one trip, the Port turned ugly, so they pulled the pin only to return the following morning. On board, customer Justin Aumann who was celebrating his 14th birthday managed a nice gummy shark. They also managed some nice seven-gillers during the session.

Local angler Methers has also been finding some nice gummy sharks with one absolute brute giving him the real run around. After a healthy battle of tug and war, Methers won and the fish pulled the scales to 16kg.

It is May, so expect to see hoards of Australian salmon schools busting the surface. By the end of the month these fish will have made their way offshore and into the surf zones, so while they are actively feeding in the entrance, it is a great time to get out the light spin tackle, soft plastics and get casting. Some of the salmon are quite respectable so don’t attempt to take them too lightly.

Photo courtesy of Think Big Charters.

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