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A new year, a new beginning
  |  First Published: December 2016



Despite the dismal start to snapper fishing on the Port, things are finally on the improve. By mid November the water temperature lifted enough to get the fish more on the bite than previous weeks, and as quick as they were on the bit, they were off, and heading back out offshore to end their spawning cycle for yet another year.

Although there are still some good reds about, the Western Entrance is the place to be, and although there is a significant amount of fish in the are, most are in the 2kg-3kg bracket.

The preferred fishing method is to set a drift line and let the tide take you down the entrance. A paternoster rig with two droppers, each containing a size 4/0 Mustad Octopus Circle Hook, is ideal in this situation. Small strips of squid tend to be the best baits on offer. If you’re still hunting for a big red, the Corinella and Elizabeth Island areas are where you should be concentrating. However, try to escape the crowds where possible and fish around the tides. The run-off tide is especially productive in these areas, as the fish tend to swim off the flats and into the channels. Anchoring on the edge of the channels with a good selection of baits is how you’ll encounter most fish.

Snapper are a viable option up until at least March, and if this winter is anything like the previous winters, we’ll have a snapper fishery right through.

Snapper aside, the focus has changed and now it’s all things whiting. Many anglers have been concentrating along the Middle Spit, but many of the larger bags of fish being caught have come from Flinders, Balnarring, Sommers and the Eastern Channel. Many anglers fishing these locations have been dropping anchor, staying for 10 minutes or so, and if no success, moving some 10m-20m and repeating the process. This has been very successful with fish to 45cm commonly mixed in with a bag of fish in the high thirties.

When fishing locations such as the Middle Spit, different tactics are more successful, especially if you’re fishing the edge of the channel in anything from 6m-10m of water. In this depth you are contending with current, so sinkers in the 5oz-6oz weight range will be required when fishing either side of the tide changes – a paternoster rig works best in these situations also. Due to small snapper also being in the port along with silver trevally and salmon, tie the paternoster rig from at least 15lb fluorocarbon for its abrasiveness. This will prevent many bust-offs, with larger fish taking the baits. Baits can also differ greatly depending on the location being fished, for instance, high on the shallow banks, such as the Middle Spit, Tortoise Head Bank and in Coronet Bay, live bass yabbies are deadly. While, at Balnarring, Sommers, Flinders and the North Arm, pipi and mussel are the top choices. I guess regardless of where you’re fishing, have a small selection of options will see your through a good session.

Solid whiting are often hard to come by at times, but from previous experience, the deeper and reefier areas seem to be where fish over 45cm are regularly caught. Finding these areas takes time and patients, but when you do strike it rich, you’ll be pleased that you put in the time and effort. Shaun Furtiere has been working around the Port, with very good success, on the whiting. Using the above techniques and fishing the deep areas off the North Arm, Shaun has been putting his clients onto some very nice whiting indeed. Shaun reports that the best tide recently has been the first two hours of the run-out.

Aside from Western Port itself, the offshore fishing has been remarkable. A few mako sharks have been caught around Kilcunda and Cape Schanck areas, but so far there’s been nothing of extraordinary size. Most have ranged 20kg-50kg. School sharks have been about in good numbers, especially for those drifting behind seal rocks in 20m of water. These sharks are always a challenge, but a lot of fun on light tackle. There has been no shortage of gummy sharks and flathead either for that matter. The Flinders Bank has been producing some magnificent flathead with some up to 60cm.

Over the next few weeks the offshore fishery will really hot up, especially when the kings start harassing the bait schools both offshore and in the Western Entrance… until then, get amongst it!

Photo courtesy Shaun Furtiere.

Photo courtesy Shaun Furtiere.

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