This year’s trend of lower air and water temperatures has continued for the past month on the bay, you could even be excused for thinking that there will be no autumn weather at all. Normally I love this time of year on the bay, and enjoy the calm and mild days on the water, and the changes that take place in the bay’s food chain.
Clear days with little or no wind are what many anglers look forward to. So far this year, it’s as though someone has flicked the magic switch, and we have moved straight from a late summer into an early winter!
The sadness of daylight savings time ending, and the onset of the cooler weather has not put off the majority of the bay’s anglers, and in fact there seems to be a definite increase in activity along the eastern seaboard at the moment.
Most encouraging for many anglers, has been the consistent reports of good quality snapper coming from the deeper marks out from Frankston right the way down to Mount Martha and even further south. Most of these fish have been in the 3-4kg range, but their numbers and presence is a good sign for some late season and early winter action further south as the fish tend to graze on the mud banks at this time of year.
There has also been some very reliable fishing for some bigger 5-6kg snapper on the western (Queenscliff) side of the channel as well as has been reported for the last couple of months. I would expect and hope that this action continues into winter this year, because I’m keen to get and give the southern areas a good crack. The general theme at this time of year is that you won’t catch as many snapper, but those you do are better quality fish, and definitely fight a lot harder than they do in the warmer months. The lack of boat traffic also makes the experience somewhat more rewarding, especially when things go to plan.
The Mount Martha and Safety Beach area has also been producing some lovely whiting and squid for the local charter operators as well over the past month or so, and with some patchy reports coming from Western Port of late, this is an encouraging sign for the bay. Whiting can be a fickle fish at times, and often a few minor location changes are needed to keep them on the chew for any length of time. But the good thing is that they will generally reward the angler’s efforts and will most often respond to fresh bait and attention to detail. They are also magnificent eating, and fight pretty well too on light tackle. They will respond well to soft plastics and even hardbodied lures at times, so if you want to change things up a little, give these ago.
The squid fishing has been sensational right along the eastern seaboard of PPB for some time, and my neck of the woods has fished the best, and most consistently for calamari that I can remember for some time. Even the land-based anglers fishing the more popular areas have been getting amongst the bigger 1kg models, and these have been very plentiful, along with lots of smaller models as well for the boaters targeting the shallow inshore reefs.
Early and late in the day is best, as well as making the most of prime tide times when the best reefs have a good covering of water and also food. During lower tides, it pays to have a look at less obvious and smaller sections of reef in deeper water when your prime spots might not be firing. I took my kids out squid fishing over the Easter break, and although my youngest was more focused on what snacks Mum had packed, my daughter did a great job, landing some ripper squid for dinner and lunch over the break.
Another encouraging sign for many of the bay’s anglers has been the arrival of good numbers of garfish, finally. They seem to be most prevalent in very shallow water at the moment, and are receiving plenty of attention from the local squid and salmon populations, as well as anglers chucking floats at them.
And on top of all this, there’s been plenty of action in the Patterson River with some lovely mulloway still being taken on live baits and a few on lures, although many of the fish have been undersized. Bream too are responding well to good baits, especially at night, and a few of the more stupidly educated canal residents have been fooled by anglers lures, although the water has been very clear and they can be very tricky in these conditions. A bit of rain will change all that!
And finally, heaps of salmon reports are still coming through, mostly around the mussel farms and Bird Rock, Mount Martha, and Canadian Bay. Best bet is to troll until you find them or look for birds and or signs of feeding fish, then cast to them. Try and avoid driving over the fish as they will spook, and you’ll have to start all over again.Reads: 421