Whiting or snapper? Why not have both!
  |  First Published: May 2016

Every year around Easter, someone turns the big switch and like magic, the mornings and nights are cooler and a chill creeps into the air. This shift in the seasons is advantageous to the fishing. The shift in air and water temperatures is a real catalyst for activity on the bay and spurs many of the yearly seasonal cycles into action.

We have become accustomed to an enjoyable late season run of snapper, particularly in the south of the bay at this time of year. However, I have received only a few reports of snapper coming from some of the wider marks closer to the main shipping channel. No doubt these fewer reports are a direct result of other fishing options elsewhere in the bay and further afield. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining; the fishing options on offer are spectacular!

For those diehards who want to tangle with a few reds as we move towards winter, I suggest you break out the light tackle and try some lures or soft plastics, especially further north in the bay. Trolling these areas can also be very effective. Baitfishers should stick to the wide expanses of mud flats and open grazing areas on the eastern and western side of the shipping channel, especially south of Mount Martha to Dromana. Be prepared to work for your fish; but the rewards will be worth it. The snapper caught out wide at this time of year are generally bigger, in top condition, and fight well. Not a bad reason to put in a few hours!

The main reason for the lack of late season snapper reports has definitely been the numbers of whiting on offer right through the bay, both for the land-based and boat anglers. While the bigger models have been firing down south, we have certainly had our fair share of action locally as well. I have enjoyed some ripper land-based sessions as well, right on my doorstep at various spots around Mount Martha. I’ve heard good land-based reports from Mount Eliza, Frankston and Anthonys Nose at McCrae. Fresh bait is the key to success, as well as fishing the high tide well into the night.

Boaties have been having success in similar areas, but have the luxury of being able to move with the schools, target the fish in deeper water, and not necessarily fishing at night. Wooleys Reef, Pelican Point, Sunnyside, Mills Beach and the Mussel Farm have all been producing some nice whiting, especially early and late in the day.

Squid numbers have really thickened up over the past month, and this will continue as we move further towards winter, as it did last year. Most of the popular inshore reef areas have been fishing off their heads as well as the piers and rocks as well. The best thing is that many of these areas can be effectively fished for both whiting and squid, which can produce some very tasty mixed bags.

Not before time, I can hear you say, but the gars have shown up in big numbers over the past month as well. Whether you chase them for bait or for the table, the humble garfish is a popular target species that will willingly take small lures and flies as well, when they are in the mood. As always, a steady berley trail is key, as well as good quality bait and sharp hooks. Seaford and Frankston piers have both fished well, as well as wider out from Olivers Hill and Mornington for the boat anglers.

And with all this bread and butter action going on, it’s no surprise that the predators haven’t strayed too far either. Big numbers of salmon have been hunting the gars and other baitfish right along the eastern seaboard, and although most recent reports have come from the heads, I am still hearing about the odd kingfish as well. The kings hung around for a while last season, so let’s hope they do the same this year! The salmon will keep going right through winter, and can be great fun and easy to spot during those calm, cool days of autumn.

The bream fishing right through the bay has picked up, but a good dose of rain will do the world of good to flush out the system and change the menu up a bit. Much like the rivers in the north of the bay, the Patterson River is fishing well in the canals and river for lure anglers and baitfishers as well. Some nice estuary perch have been reported by some dedicated anglers fishing lures at night.

And while we are on EP’s, Devil Bend Reservoir fished very well for perch earlier this season, and will continue to be a great fishery, as the stocked fish grow bigger. Other recent stocking in local areas is very encouraging and will produce some good fishing for EP’s in the years to come.

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