For many local anglers May signals the start of the winter surf fishing scene. However, looking at the fish caught over the last four weeks you’d be forgiven for thinking we were still in the middle of summer. We have seen big schools of rat kings, along with bumper whiting fishing and plenty of squid to boot!
It’s been a different season this year to the last couple of years. Live bait has been harder to come by, which has led more anglers to use jigs as their main technique to target this revered species. In my eyes this has been one of the reasons we have seen more rat size kings taken – bigger fish are often more partial to a well-presented livie.
Over the last few weeks we saw some big schools of kings, with some lucky boats catching double figures while fishing around the Port Phillip heads and the wrecks offshore. On more than one occasion boats fishing offshore with a berley trail running attempting to catch livies, had a full school of rats come into the trail and starting busting up their sabiki rigs. As you could imagine, general mayhem followed but most of the time a few kings were put in the boat as well.
I am going to go as far as to say that this has been an excellent whiting season. With many of the commercial nets removed from the bay as of 1 April, let’s hope it’s a whiting season that continues! Through autumn we have seen some sensational whiting fishing along the peninsula. The good news is that the fish have been spread far and wide – anglers from Safety Beach to Portsea have found good schools on their little patch.
Size has been good too, with most of the King George bigger than 36cm and regularly up to the mid 40s. Fish have been taken on a range of baits but one we have found popular this year, although on the pricey side, are the Gotcha red devil worms. With that said, pipis, mussels and fresh caught squid have produced fish.
Surf season is salmon season down here and it’s good to see we have had some good size salmon already caught. Going back as far as Easter we saw fish in the 3kg range caught on blue bait from Gunnamatta Back Beach and at St Andrews Beach.
I have talked about it a lot over the last few years but if you have not tried spinning lures for salmon then you should! We now sell far more 9ft graphite surf spin rods than we do traditional 12ft rods. This is simply for the effectiveness of surf spinning for salmon – they are suckers for fast moving metals. The only downside of surf spinning is the fact that you probably cut out some of the by-catch as you are not that likely to catch a flathead for instance once you start spinning metals.
If you are new to fishing for salmon down here, then try to look for days where there is a light northerly wind blowing and the swell is down. Thankfully, we get quite a few of these days, so just keep an eye on the weather sites and pick your day – it’ll make the experience much more pleasant.
True to seasonal form, we’ve had some nice clear days with small seas and no wind over the last month. This has made for some very nice offshore fishing. Having already mentioned the kingfish, other species that have been caught include gummy shark, tiger flathead and nannygai. My friend Baz Gorman at Southern Sport and Game Fishing Charters has run successful offshore trips all month with plenty of anglers coming home with a quality mixed bag of reef fish – Bass Strait style.
We are heading into the coolest, quietest period of the year now and it is not always pleasant to fish. My theory is keep it simple. Back beach fishing is great but also a short spell in the boat to get a feed of squid can be done pretty quickly and efficiently. It’s a good time of year to get out, get your fishing fix, catch a few for the table and head back indoors to sit in front of the heater!
• For more information feel free to drop in and see the boys at Peninsula Compleat Angler, 11 Boneo Road in Rosebud or phone: 03 5981 1994.Reads: 346