Salmon inside but flathead and gummies offshore
  |  First Published: October 2016

Now that spring’s here, that iconic Victorian red sportfish is on everyone’s minds, but for now, the humble Australian salmon and flathead are the most prevalent. With water temperatures still hovering at 12-13°C, the elusive snapper has remained elusive. Only a few lucky anglers snag them. However, anglers are having a ball on the Australian salmon, when fishing inside the estuaries.

McLaughlins beach has been the main launching pad for chasing salmon, but most salmon are actually up around the Manns Beach area. McLaughlins Beach entrance has produced salmon, just either side of slack tide. When the tide ramps up, the current is mega, and it’s been very hard to fish.

On the other hand, Manns Beach entrance has been a lot easier to fish and is riddled with salmon, trevally and a few King George whiting. The salmon are going on all tides, but the run out is a little better. When the tide starts running hard, fish metal lures or larger soft plastics, with heavy jig heads around 3/8oz. Anchor and cast out of the boat, as this has been successful. If you don’t mind constantly moving, keep drifting over the same spot and catch plenty.

Anglers anchoring near the entrance and berleying have snagged quality trevally on pipis and bass yabbies. There are some crackers mixed in with the trevally and anglers have been getting up to a dozen at a time. The run out tide has been better for bait, especially an hour before slack low.


Calamari have been the most reliable fish to target inside. There’s good numbers around the basket beacon and in the snake channel around Sunday Island. Slack tides seem to be the best time to fish. The calamari aren’t huge, and I’d call them small to medium eaters, with hood lengths up to 25cm. Size 3 or 3.5 Yamashita jigs have been working a treat.


If you want flathead, offshore is the place to go. For big flatties, head straight to 35m and fish as deep as 45m. The flathead are absolute crackers with plenty around 50-60cm. Drifting is a must and the run in tides seem to be producing most of the flathead. Just use a paternoster rig or snapper snatcher style rig – you can’t go wrong.

Any bait will do the trick, but there’s so many barracouta out there, that you’ll be able to get as much fresh bait as you want. In a bit closer, around 30m, is riddled with rock cod, as the water temperature is still around 13°C. The pinkies are just starting to move into the offshore reefs, but there’s a lot more cod and couta than pinkies.

For gummies, fish in closer. There have been some ripper gummies caught over the past month, but most have been in closer than the flathead, around 18-22m. The anglers catching the most have been patient, anchored and berleying heavily to catch the gummies. Pilchards and fresh fish fillets have been both working well.

Next month, we’ll all be talking about snapper. I guarantee we’ll have the first snapper photos turn up and the whiting should come on the chew more as well.


Clint Stanistreet with a couple of nice flatties caught on the drift in 40m off Port Albert.


With the entrance full of salmon, it was the perfect time to break out the fly rod and catch a few. This one took a size 2 Clouser. A full sinking line was needed to battle the strong current.


Dave Johnson and crew caught these beautiful gummy sharks offshore in 22m of water at anchor with pilchards doing the best.

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