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Reds back to the Heads
  |  First Published: September 2015



After a cold and blustery winter, spring is finally here and it’s time to snap out of the doldrums and start gearing up to hit the reds. As huge schools assemble outside Port Phillip Heads before gradually making their way along the eastern seaboard towards Melbourne, there’s bound to be some early arrivals on offer this month.

AVALON TO POINT COOK

Local lure and soft plastic enthusiast, Phil Jordan says the water temperature on Corio Bay has dropped to below 10ºC and as a result the resident snapper have been tough to tempt. However, the fishing is expected to pick up over the coming weeks, and at this time last year some solid reds to 6kg were taken in the vicinity of Corio Quay on Gulp! Turtle Back Worms as well as more traditional offerings, including baits of pilchard and silver whiting.

According to Phil, the past few weeks have been productive for smaller pinkie snapper and snotty trevalla, particularly amongst the Geelong waterfront piers and jetties on the turn of the tide. Further west, squid have been a reliable target at both Clifton Springs and St Leonards over patches of reef and weed in 4-6m of water. As we move into spring, larger specimens up to 2kg and beyond are expected to make more of an appearance.

Jonathan Balfour also managed a tasty feed of calamari recently, this time over at Point Cook where all the action took place in 3-6m of water just out from the RAAF base airfield. Fishing alongside his brother in-law, the boys managed ten squid in relatively quick succession before shooting back to the ramp to prepare their meal.

ALTONA TO WILLIAMSTOWN

Areas of shallow reef at both Altona and Williamstown have been producing plenty of pinkies and although most have been quite small, there are a few larger fish to 2kg amongst the juveniles. Worm and baitfish pattern soft plastics, including Gulp! Nemesis and Turtle Back Worms rigged on a 1/12-1/6oz jigheads are well worth a shot in 3-6m of water. Just as the sun dips below the horizon of an evening generally produces the hottest bite, especially when this coincides with a change in tide. Overcast conditions coupled with a moderate surface chop can also bring the fish on the chew in the shallows.

Casting soft plastics from his pedal powered kayak, Luke Harvey picked up several pinkie snapper to 45cm on the reef at Williamstown. After a slow start earlier at Port Melbourne, Luke says he was somewhat surprised by the larger than usual run of pinkies as he was expecting to be plagued by juveniles. Hopefully this is a good sign of what’s to come later this month.

METROPOLITAN RIVERS

Bream have been active at times just outside the mouth of the Yarra River at Williamstown where small diving minnows worked alongside the moored yachts have been productive. Land-based anglers fishing with baits of live and cut crab presented hard up against the jetty pylons can also expect some success in this area. At this time of year, there’s also every chance of snaring a snapper in the lower reaches of the Yarra River. Likewise, the structure-laden parts over at Port Melbourne are also known to some produce the odd early season red.

Lure fishing specialist, Toby McClure spent a few hours on the Maribyrnong River recently where he managed a reasonable catch and release bag of bream for this time of year. Launching from the Warmies Boat Ramp at Newport under clear sunny skies around midday, Toby made his way upriver to fish the afternoon incoming tide where he managed half a dozen legal size bream before calling it a day after just a few hours. Toby says some bream were hanging about the bridge pylons though most seem to be further upriver. Whilst a few mulloway were also spotted up on the sounder screen, bites were not forthcoming on this occasion.

The crew from Hooked on Bait and Tackle also suggest the Maribyrnong River is the pick of the local rivers for bream at the moment. The stretch along Flemington Racecourse, as well as further up around Essendon Rowing Club, has been productive on the incoming tides with lure anglers fairing best – flicking crab imitations along the drop off just out from the bluestone edges. Baits of fresh mussel, tube worm and small freshwater yabbies are also well worth a try in this area.

Down the highway at Werribee South, the resident bream have been preoccupied with spawning rituals and somewhat reluctant to feed for the most part. Again, tube worm and small freshwater yabbies are your best bet, particularly up around the island. Further upriver, Nathan Wright managed ten redfin within as many casts whilst flicking a soft plastic amongst from the shore. Though they were mostly small in terms of size, their aggression and willingness to hit a lure certainly made for some entertaining land-based action and helped Nathan fill in half an hour or so.

BEEN FISHING?

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