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Whacking winter whiting in Western Port
  |  First Published: July 2016



It’s July already, which means everything is only going to get better soon as spring is only around the corner. Still, for the time being, it is all about riding out the next eight weeks before we can expect some warmth in the air and some snapper to swarm into Western Port.

While I have snapper on the brain, the winter fishery hasn’t really kicked into gear as well as I thought it may have, given the previous winters. A few reds have been caught in the Corinella region, with the back of Pelican Island producing some nice pinkie snapper to 2kg.

Larger fish have been caught, but of what I have had reported to me, the largest so far has been a 4kg model caught at the Corals by local angler Jeff McMillan from Phillip Island. Jeff reported that he managed three fish during the session with the other two around the 50cm mark. All fish took Californian squid baits.

Calamari

The highlight lately has been the calamari fishery for land-based and boat anglers. For those fishing from the shore, the more productive locations have been the San Remo Jetty, with anglers doing well into the night half an hour either side of the high tide change, Stony Point Pier during the flood tide at night as well as Flinders Pier, which is the most productive pier throughout winter. There have been some exceptional models caught from the Flinders Pier recentlywith size 3.0 jigs doing the damage. Mind you, those fishing with baited jigs have also been catching some nice models, but the jigs are proving to be the most effective technique.

From the sand, baited jigs suspended under floats have been effective from Balnarring Rocks, Ventnor Beach and Cleeland Bight. Fishing these locations for calamari is best on a calm night and during a flood tide.

Anglers fishing from boats have had success when drifting along the edge of the bank between the Stony Point ramp and Hanns Inlet Entrance. There have also been some nice models caught in Tankerton Bay and on the Tortoise Head Bank however, and for the larger winter models, Cat Bay and Flinders have been producing some cracking models but they are few and far between at the moment. By the end of this month, they should be in full swing in these areas.

WINTER WHITING

Despite whiting are known as a summer species throughout the state, but it is fact that Victoria now has a very reliable winter fishery too. While the focus is often on Port Phillip Bay, many forget about the productiveness of Western Port and it gets overlooked.

Although they may not be in huge numbers, those who do target them catch a reasonable number to keep it a viable option in the colder months. Most of the whiting action is confined to a few areas such as Cat Bay, Flinders, Balnarring, Tortoise Head and the Middle Spit.

These locations are hot property when it comes to whiting and the techniques don’t differ much between the summer and winter run. However, you will find the fish in winter are easily spooked and quite hesitant to take a bait, especially in shallow water, so it will pay to fish with either a running sinker rig or extended paternoster rig with no. 6 hooks. When the fish are finicky, fishing with long shank hooks will allow you to feel the bite and set the hook accordingly, unlike circle hooks where you want them to engulf the entire bait and hook. In winter, this aggressive feeding pattern rarely occurs.

Shaun Furtiere has been having a good run on the winter ‘tings and has had no problems finding solid fish.

GUMMY SHARKS

Another top winter option if you’re brave enough to head out in the almost arctic conditions is gummy sharks, as they are quite a prolific winter species. The Western Entrance is one of the more reliable locations to catch them, especially around buoy 14, 11 and 15.

The Western Entrance isn’t the easiest to fish, especially if you’re a new comer to the area, so ensure you have the right anchor, anchor chain and rope, otherwise you’ll be drifting down the entrance rather than staying put.

Gummy sharks respond to a variety of baits; however the oilier baits have the best chance at catching quality fish. Fresh salmon chunks and fillets, silver trevally, yellowtail scad and calamari rings are the most effective.

Winter gummy sharks don’t tend to raise eyebrows, because the majority caught tend to be males up to about 8kg with the odd 10kg model caught from time to time. In saying that, reports of fish to 28kg have been reported in the last few weeks, which is a good sign, so hopefully this leads to many more catches throughout the next few months.

Big gummy sharks are known as a February and March affair, but if you put in enough time and effort, you’ll be rewarded.

To round out this month, I can’t end without mentioning how good the surf fishing is at present, especially at Cape Woolamai, Anzacs and Colonnades surf beaches. The salmon have been quite plentiful, but are only firing on the top of the high tide. Fishing first light is the most productive time to fish with anglers who use berley having more success than those who don’t.

Although bait fishing with blue bait and white bait has been the most productive technique, spinning with metal lures is also highly effective and requires a lot less effort than lugging tonnes of gear to the beach.

Photo courtesy of Shaun Furtiere.

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