Red rampage wrapping up
  |  First Published: December 2016

If a child can lay face down on a supermarket floor throwing a temper tantrum and get away with it, then surely a grown adult like myself can throw a total flip out due to the constant weather battering the state.

If it’s not torrential rain, 100km/h winds and intense flooding, I have been wondering of late why I don’t give up fishing and take up stamp collecting.

In the last ten years or so, from what I can remember, never have we had so much consistent wind preventing anglers from getting out fishing.

I really hate to put a dampener on things, especially when it comes to fishing, but the past three months have been nothing but terrible. I was talking with local angler Matt Boultin just the other day about the snapper season and the weather and (for someone that has spent more time on the water than a fish), even he had a gripe with it. But what can you do about it? We just have to harden up and take every opportunity to head out when the conditions have been comfortable.

The last weekend of October saw the 33rd Annual Mornington Peninsula Tea Tree Snapper Competition. Harry Sellers took out the top trophy to become the 2016 Victorian Amateur Snapper Champion with a snapper weighing 11.86kg! Jake Milligan was a very close runner up with a snapper weighing 11.62kg. Rohan McRae took out the third heaviest, with a red weighing 9.840kg.

The Junior 2016 Victorian Amateur Snapper Champion is Hunter Blackford with a fish weighing 7.8kg. For the first time in Tea Tree history, they also had a tie for second place. Brodie King and Tommy Porto both caught a snapper weighing 7.48kg! The conditions were not the best for the weekend, but there were still plenty of fishing opportunities.

Despite the difficulty of getting out for a fish right around the state over the past few months, Western Port is a blessed waterway when it comes to windy periods. Having French Island in the middle of the Port, this provides anglers with options in howling wind.

From the north, you can launch at Warneet and fish in close to the Quail and Tyabb Banks, or launch at Corinella and fish in the Mosquito Channel. Escaping winds from the west can be done by launching from Stony Point of Hastings to fish in the North Arm, while from the east is much the same, allowing you to fish the North Arm and Eastern Channel.

Southerlies on the other hand allow you to fish pretty much right around the Port except for the Western Entrance.

All in all, the best part of the Port is the fact that there is always somewhere to escape the wind and still have a fair chance at catching some fish.

Coupled with the wind of late, the constant downpour of rain hasn’t helped the matter either. In fact, the huge run off of water into the Port from the creeks and rivers has kept the water temperature down, meaning the fish haven’t been as aggressive for this time of year.

Those who’ve headed out when the opportunity has presented itself have reaped the rewards with some very impressive fish. Shaun Furtiere has stuck to his guns this season and persisted at Western Port, and despite the water temperature being colder than the norm at this time of year, he has still found some very nice fish indeed.

Although the fishing has been a little tough on occasion, Shaun has been concentrating a lot on the shallows around the Corinella area. The water temperature has been a little higher in depths around 2-4m, however the fish are quite easily spooked, so it is vital that you keep the noise (even your talking) to a minimum.

The most success has come to those fishing first and last light, as well as through the night when boat traffic is less.

The Corals has also picked up now, with more and more fish being caught in the area each week. It has taken a little while to kick into gear, but that’s testament to the fresh from all the rain flooding throughout the port of the past few months. Now we’re seeing regular reports of reds to 5kg being taken from The Corals as well as in the deeper stuff near Observation Point. This area has seen a lot of activity in recent weeks, and it’s a common location for some real monsters to be caught from. Fishing The Corals is best on the last of the flood tide and like in most of the Port, fresh calamari rings are by far the best bait to use.

The Western Entrance has also started to see school snapper show up, which is a reminder that the season is drawing to an end. When snapper ranging from 30-50cm begin to become regular catches in the Western Entrance, you know that the bigger models are on their way back out to sea, however not all is lost.

Although a lot of anglers have already made the switch to the humble whiting, drift fishing down the Western Entrance is still an effective technique if you want to continue catching table-sized snapper. Most of the pinkie snapper school up around McHaffies Reef where they’ll stay for the next few months. By late January, they’ll be all gone.

Just before you go after pinkies though, calamari are still hot property, especially for those fishing land-based from both Stony Point and Flinders piers. The best and most consistent fishing has been on the lead up to the new moon, but as long as you’re fishing a high tide during the night, you’re still in with a fair chance at success.

Baited jigs are working well and it is a technique you just can’t afford not to use. In saying that, don’t double dip, but double up! By that I mean, flick out a baited jig and while that’s floating with the tide, flick out an artificial jig on a lighter rod and work it above the weed. This technique is extremely effective throughout the entire year.

Of course, an end of year report isn’t complete without the mention of fishing in Bass Strait, and this is going to hot up from now on, providing the weather let’s us all get out! Even if you don’t have a boat big enough to head out wide in search of mako sharks, drifting just outside the Eastern Entrance can lead to some very nice flathead being caught while using a paternoster rig bounced across the sand.

Of course, if conditions are calm enough to do so, setting anchor in 20m of water while fishing a running sinker rig off the bottom for a gummy shark is a popular affair.

Drifting for a mako in 30-70m is where all the action really kicks into gear, and these guys can empty a reel in no time.

The offshore fishing scene really hots up from now, and I look forward to hearing about all the successful stories from the blue over the next few weeks.

Photo courtesy of Darren Hamilton-Moore.

Photo courtesy of Shaun Furtiere.

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