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Melbournites welcome PPB’s famous spring
  |  First Published: September 2016



We’ve endured the longest, coldest and wettest winter for some time. Better weather, and longer warmer days are just around the corner.

September is a real month of transition in the bay, and marks the change into the bay’s famous spring cycle. As the weather warms, the food chain and the species on offer will shift, which will also bring a spike in the fishing. For many traditional anglers, spring is the start of the fishing for the next 6-8 months. Now’s the time for preparations – for gear, boats and everything else important.

For most anglers in PPB South, the spring and summer months are all about the mighty snapper. While it’s a little early to get excited, quality reds have been caught right through the winter months, and the annual spawning migration is not that far away.

Recent reports I’ve received have come from land-based anglers, as they are able to fish effectively in less favorable conditions, and there have been more land-based anglers targeting snapper of late. Mornington Pier is an ever-reliable favorite amongst the die-hard locals, as well as the various rock ledges and platforms from Frankston to Safety Beach. Bradford Road, Hearn Road and Bay Road are always worth a look, especially during or immediately following a strong westerly blow.

Early season, and resident snapper are more likely to be found close to structure. Much like the land-based anglers, successful boating efforts will normally follow this pattern. The Outer and Inner Artificial out from Carrum, Frankston Wreck, and various reef marks right along the eastern seaboard are all worth a look. Be prepared to have a good look on the sounder before dropping the pick and setting up. A good strong berley trail is paramount to your success. Also be prepared to change up the bait selection, even try fillet baits and smaller presentations to get the fish to bite. If things are slow, use lures or soft plastics. This can be very effective, and will often draw an aggressive response.

It’s fair to say the exceptional run of whiting in PPB this year caused many anglers to change their focus during the snapper season. They have continued to feature in many anglers’ bags through the winter months. Although harder to find during colder weather and water temperatures, they’re bigger and provide great sport, and of course, tucker.

I’ve enjoyed a purple patch on the local beaches this year, and it’s still going. Early and late in the day is prime time to target whiting, as well as well into the night. Fresh bait is always the best – mussels, pipis, squid and even peeled banana prawn are very effective. Talking to a few of the local anglers at the ramp, many believe that this run of whiting will continue right into the summer and beyond. Here’s hoping. I know the kids and I, and many other anglers in the bay, will be thankful.

Another great winter staple, the humble Australian salmon, has been about in the usual areas, in big numbers. They taste great when the water is cooler, and I have no trouble presenting them to the family for dinner. I’ve been spinning up a heap of them on dusk recently, from ‘Fishies’ Beach, Mount Martha Beach and also in Mornington Harbor. Keep your eye out for birds and also bait in the area. They’re fairly easy to see when they are feeding close to shore, but can be a little harder to see when they are cruising. They will take almost anything when in the mood, lures, flies or bait.

Rain has made the bay’s rivers and creeks dirty and hard flowing. Bream fishing has been exceptional, especially for the finesse lure anglers in the Patto, and also the bait anglers fishing near the drains. Don’t be put off by dirty water. Bream feed heavily during these times, and tend to be more aggressive.

Conversely, squid fishing has been patchy along the inshore reefs along the eastern shore, due to frequent flushes from the creeks and drains. Deeper reefs in depths of 3-5m have been more productive, as well as the inshore and deeper areas further south.

1

Ben Cunnington with a quality PPB winter gummy shark.

2

The lure fishing in Patterson Lakes has been awesome lately. This bream was one of several fish landed on the shallow sand flats during a recent canal session.
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