Bass Strait certainly turned it on in a big way this year. The last weekend in February saw the BRP/Evinrude Victorian Game Fishing Classic held in Bass Strait and the results were amazing!
While the overall results are still being compiled, six club boats from the Bass Strait Game Fishing Club had outstanding results. Two mako sharks were tagged by members of the Bass Strait Game Fishing Club on Day 1, and one mako shark capture by another club member in the last hour of the tournament on Day 2. Cliff Fent captured a 91.4kg mako shark on 15kg line class with crew Dave Fent Nick Oscuro on Bluefin2. This capture, in the last minutes of the day secured the heaviest capture and Most Meritorious Capture for the tournament. The other trophy winners from the club were Zach Mcmahon who won Champion Angler Tag and Release, and together with his crew, Pornus Thomson and Toby Linklater on Hoffinator took out the Champion Boat Tag and Release category.
What is best about Bass Strait at this time of year is that anything can take your bait or lure. Craig Pringle managed to catch himself a cracking 13.1kg kingfish on 8kg line class taken on Day One of the event – a nice surprise. There has been a huge influx of kingfish along the coastline from Kilcunda to Sea Rocks, Flinders to Cape Schank. Though they have been about in numbers, finding them holding in specific areas has been the challenge this season. Most anglers who encounter kingfish have trolled live yellowtail scad and or strips of fresh calamari along the shallow reefs. This aids the search to find where the fish are holding as they do move around quite a lot.
By the end of this month, kingfish will be a distant memory as they head back up the coast to warmer waters for yet another season. Inside Western Port however, the King George whiting have taken the focus off the kingfish. Shaun Furtiere from Think Big Charters has dominated the whiting this season and put his clients onto some great bags of fish. Even though some of the conditions have been a little breezy, whiting up to 45cm are a very common catch.
Shaun’s clients Adam Mitchell along with his neighbour Mal had a great session. Mal got straight into a nice gummy and the rest of the session saw them land some very respectable whiting ranging between 40-45cm. On another trip, the whiting were more then happy to take any bait offered. Fish of this exceptional size have been well worth heading out for.
Pipi, mussel and fresh tenderised calamari strips have been the most effective baits. If you can spare the time and pump some Bass yabbies before a session, you will find them equally effective. The whiting fishing has been going extremely well throughout the Port, but in the south, the best action has been at Tankerton, the southern end of the middle spit, Tortoise Head Bank, Coronet Bay, Dickies Bay, Ventnor, Balnarring, Flinders and Cat Bay. Though the whiting might be abundant, you’ll still find them hard to catch at times, especially when the tides are running. In recent weeks, the best bite times have been the last hour of the ebb and first hour of the flood tides.
Now is the time for silver trevally. Not highly rated on the sportsfish list, or as a table fish for that matter, but silvers can be a lot of fun to catch on the right tackle. Often a by-catch while fishing for whiting, trevally are great fun. If you want o catch one, head out to the edge of the middle spit or in 5-7m of water along the southern side of the Tortoise Head Bank. Berley is a must – and keep it fine. Chook pellets mixed with tuna oil in a berley bucket will do the job. A paternoster rig, with pipi baits is all that’s needed and it won’t take long for them to come on the chew. Remember to tie your paternoster rig with at least 15lb Mustad fluorocarbon leader though. There are some big salmon about that can destroy light rig in seconds.
Gummy sharks are about in good numbers, especially at night. Smaller models have been caught during the day on any given tide, especially in the Western Entrance, but the night hours will see the larger models come out to play. Many anglers fish for the fun with gummies and often these sharks are released. In saying that, the big models have been on in the lead up to the full moon and with that event only a few weeks away, now is the time to head down to the entrance and try your luck. If you are going to do so, don’t go under-gunned. The entrance can run hard and there are some whopping big stingrays also. Arm yourself with a solid 10-15kg outfit, 50lb braid, 80lb leader and some solid Mustad Octopus circle hooks to get you on your way. The last thing you need it to be tight to a stingray for the best part of 40 minutes during the peak bite time.
The winter months are approaching fast and as quick as the water temperatures are dropping, the winter species are making their way into the port. Over the coming weeks you’ll notice a big change in Western Port, salmon, elephant fish, draught board (swell sharks) and sevengill sharks all quick to devour your baits and bite you off. Fortunately, this is just another Western Port cycle taking place.Reads: 2035