Head out after dark for the chance of a big bite!
  |  First Published: April 2016

The warm and dry conditions we experienced right through the summer months have continued into the start of autumn as well on the Bay. While the fishing has been productive, super-clear inshore waters have made low light and overcast conditions the best times to target various species in the shallows. Persistent afternoon easterly winds have also congregated much of the bait and food onto the wider marks as well making these areas a better option during the brighter hours of the day. Hopefully some substantial rain is just around the corner.

Snapper reports have been few and far between over the past month, but expect this to change as the water temperature cools this month and further into autumn. Traditionally, late run snapper tend to congregate on the mud flats and vast grazing areas south of Mount Martha and across the shipping channel as they put on condition after spawning. While the numbers are generally less than during the summer months, the quality of the fish is normally better. Those keen for a late snapper fix will do well to check out these areas, keep your eyes on social media for any recent reports.

Recent snapper reports I have received have been concerned with smaller pinkie snapper especially from the landbased bait fishers, and from kayak and small boat anglers fishing lures and plastics on the inshore reefs. While many fish are still undersized, a bit of persistence will normally pay off, and there are plenty of 40cm sized models to keep anglers interested. Don’t be shy to try and do things a little differently, I’ve found that a bit of good old trolling with small hardbodies has done the trick. The tactic is especially effective on reef around 4-6m deep and regularly produces chunky pinkies as well as plenty of other by-catch as well.

Once again good numbers of King George whiting have been a big feature right along the eastern shoreline, especially for landbased anglers and those fishing from boats in the more protected bays. Evenings and into the night hours have been the most productive, as well as the use of fresh bait like squid, mussels, pipis and peeled prawn. Productive areas have been Daveys Bay, Sunnyside, Mills Beach, Bird Rock Beach, Main Beach, Mount Martha right down to Anthony’s nose in McCrae. Numbers of fish have decreased, but the size has generally been bigger. Expect this trend to continue as we move towards the cooler months and the areas further south in the bay become more productive.

Big numbers of salmon have once again been a feature for lure and sport fishers in the bay, and those looking for some fresh bait as well. Most fish seem to be around the 750g size at the moment, especially in the bigger schools. The larger salmon tend to be solitary, and will be in smaller numbers. Don’t forget the kingfish will not be far away either, especially among the smaller salmon. I received a report the other day of a kayak angler totally surrounded by a massive school of smaller salmon an acre in size, just off Mornington Pier. He said he could clearly see half a dozen large kingfish patrolling the base of the school! Time to break out the livies! Hopefully this trend continues for a few months yet.

Although the squid have copped a hiding from various predators and anglers, solid numbers of squid on the reefs and at various landbased continue to thrive. Clear water has made them sketchy during the brighter hours, but low light conditions lead to some great fishing. Complement your timing with the use of natural coloured jigs like brown, green and red.

Bream fishing in the local creeks and rivers has been great and will continue to improve into the cooler months. Recently the surface fishing has been superb, especially in the Patterson Lakes system. Baitfishing for bream will improve as we move into winter, especially after any substantial rain.

I have also heard a few reports of the odd mulloway, and plenty of estuary perch as well in the Patto, and in Devilbend Reservoir, so there’s been plenty to keep the local lure casters busy at the moment. With the expected stocking that will be taking place over the coming months the fishing will only get better.

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