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Kings gearing up
  |  First Published: February 2016



February brings sweet relief after another hectic January on the peninsula. One of my favourite months of the year, February brings beautiful hot summery days without the constant buzz of jet skis and long queues at the boat ramps! There’s been some terrific fishing this over the last year and the peninsula really turned it on for the tourists over the January, which has me looking forward with excitement to this month’s fishing adventures.

Gummy Shark

One of the stand-out features of the fishing over the last month was the number of big gummy sharks taken along the peninsula. Many of our regular customers were managing two or three fish in a session, most weighing 10kg+ but with plenty between 15-25kg.

There was no doubt that those who were most successful on the gummies recently employed two specific tactics – they fished at night or before dawn in the mornings and generally spent a little time collecting fresh bait. From the reports that I heard in the shop, the most effective fresh baits were fish such as salmon, trevally, barracouta and snook. Collecting these bait fish is often easier than you might suspect, and a couple of diving lures trolled around virtually any local structures will produce a few for a gummy shark session.

Areas that see the best fishing include the stretch of the South Channel between Sorrento and Rosebud. However, late-season snapper anglers out on the mud and in the Symmonds Channel also commonly encountered gummies. Make sure you take a good look at your GPS charts however, as there are a number of minor channels on the peninsula and almost all of these will produce fish if you spend time soaking bait at these spots.

Whiting

Whiting fishing has already been excellent this summer. After two pretty lack lustre seasons in the last couple of years it has been good to see that we’ve had reasonable whiting fishing right through late spring and summer.

“Where are they biting?” – is a question asked often in my store. It’s always a hard question to answer with whiting as they can literally be biting at a boat sitting 10m from you, yet you’re still managing to catch nothing! The key is to keep moving and see if you land on the right patch. With that said, Tootgarook and Rosebud has been consistent while some of the shallow weed and sand grounds off Rye, near the South Channel, have had good schools moving through.

Most of the fish we are seeing are around the 35–39cm mark, but of course there are always exceptions to the rule with larger and smaller models mixed in.

Yellowtail Kingfish

Kingies are always the fish that get the red-blooded fisher’s heart pumping, and this year is no different with plenty of excited anglers keen to get among the action.

We started seeing regular captures of rat kingfish from around the last week of December, with fish taken on jigs in the Rip. Kings have also been encountered offshore on small UV octopus skirts and live baits.

In the last couple of years February has probably been the best month for kings, so I expect some big things coming up. Hopefully it’s not long before we get to see a school of genuine 20kg+ fish turn up and really give some local anglers come curry!

Plenty to do

Often our reports focus primarily on boat fishing, but it is also worth remembering that there is so much to do on the peninsula even if you are land-based. One of my young staff spent a couple of mornings wading the sand flats and produced some really nice flathead to 50cm, simply by casting plastics around in the quiet of morning. We also saw some good garfish taken while float fishing from Blairgowrie Marina and a number of the other piers. Customer Trent North reported fishing in the evenings around Shoreham and Point Leo off the beach and capturing gummy shark to about 7kg. At this time of year there really is plenty to do!

Looking Ahead

As I touched on earlier, the next couple of months are the guts of kingfish season. If you are interested in tackling these brutes and have not caught one before, my first advice would be to go prepared and by that I mean don’t fish too light with your gear. The interesting thing about our local king fishery is that there really is a range of different size fish – and you have no idea which ones will be there on the day. So do yourself a favour, get in to your local tackle store, have a chat and secure yourself some good gear before your first foray on the kings in our locals waters.

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