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Time for a whiting fix
  |  First Published: March 2016



After months of very little rainfall, recent storm activity has delivered some much-needed precipitation across the local region. A flush of freshwater is just what the Melbourne rivers needed to kick the fishing into gear in the lead up to Easter. For those up for a challenge, early March through to the winter months is prime time to cross paths with a metropolitan mulloway. These once mysterious predators have been in far greater numbers over the past few years. Hopefully the pattern continues and we see many more enter the system over the coming months.

Recent heavy rain have given the fishing a lift across the inner western reefs and pinkie snapper have provided some hot action in close for those pitching soft plastics on the drift. When conditions are more settled, King George whiting and squid make an appearance, along with some good eating size flathead.

WERRIBEE SOUTH TO POINT COOK

Jason Farrugia from Magnet Fishing Charters says the fishing has been exceptional of late and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. As the annual run of big reds gradually tapered off early in the New Year, the focus for Jason and his clients shifted to King George whiting. Anchoring up over patches of broken reef and rubble, interspersed with some weed and sand produced some impressive bags with some fish topping 38cm and occasionally beyond.

Tenderised squid, cuttlefish (if you can get it), fresh mussel and pipis are the go-to baits for whiting in this area, in conjunction with a liberal supply of berley to keep the school actively competing with one another for a feed. On most occasions, the whiting have been found in 2-6m of water, though according to Jason, he’s also experienced some hot bites out wider. The combination of a sensitive threadline outfit, light line (say no heavier than 6lb breaking strain) and a small long shank or circle hook will have you well placed to secure a feed of whiting this month.

According to the crew at Hooked On Bait And Tackle, whiting have also shown up in good numbers from Wedge Spit through to Point Wilson. These fish average 32-34cm, with larger specimens generally more willing to feed closer to nightfall. Interestingly, land-based anglers who cast baits of pipi and mussel from the beach at Avalon have also enjoyed some reasonably consistent action.

Squid have recently become active, so for anyone planning to put together a seafood banquet for Easter, there shouldn’t be any need to travel too far. When fishing solo, I like to have one jig trail out the back of the boat while casting another well ahead of the drift. The stretch from Wyndham Harbour through to Point Cook has been productive, particularly along the 3-6m line. Brad Hodges and his son, Cooper, secured a feed of calamari in this area, which cooked up nicely in a hot fry pan alongside a couple of flathead fillets.

ALTONA TO WILLIAMSTOWN

It can be a real mixed bag for inshore anglers at this time of year with whiting, squid, flathead, pinkie snapper and snook (or short finned pike) all likely to show up at various times – and indeed within the same session! Casting worm and baitfish imitation soft plastics on the drift is a sure bet at dawn and dusk, while those who prefer to fish at anchor will also be in the mix with baits of fresh squid and cut pilchards likely to attract some attention.

METROPOLITAN
RIVERS

Bream, pinkie snapper and school mulloway will be the key targets in the metropolitan rivers over the coming months with both bait and lure anglers expected to do well. Bream have been reasonably active among the Williamstown moorings and diving minnows worked along the shady side of the yacht hulls enticed some to strike. Further upriver at Docklands, lipless crankbaits or vibes pitched tight up against the vertical structure has also brought about success. The Maribyrnong River is another good option with some solid bream falling to crab imitations and diving minnows worked along the rocky margins.

Pinkie snapper, which seem to get their directional wires crossed and head up river, are expected to provide some entertainment this month. Worm pattern soft plastics account for many of these fish. Fresh mussel meat intended for bream is highly successful for some, while those fishing for mulloway with live baits also encounter the odd snapper at this time of year.

Speaking of mulloway, the next few months will offer you the best chance to tempt one of these urban beasts. Already there have been a few taken by those fishing well into the night with both live and dead mullet. Soft plastics such as the Berkley Nemesis range in both the Gulp and PowerBait varieties have also brought quite a few small to middling size school mulloway undone. Half an hour before and after slack water, be it the low or high tide, is a peak bite time. In saying that though, mulloway can most definitely be coerced into striking outside of this period.

BEEN FISHING

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