Whacking the whiting in Western Port
  |  First Published: February 2017

Despite the dismal start to snapper fishing in the Port, things are really improving now. By mid November, the water temperature lifted enough to bring the fish more on the bite than previous weeks and as quick as they did, backflipped and headed back out offshore to end their spawning cycle for yet another year.

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 area, most are in the 2-3kg 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 to be offered. If you’re still hunting for a big red, the Corinella and Elizabeth islands 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.

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

Snapper aside, the focus has changed and it is all things whiting now. 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 the anchor, staying for 10 minutes or so, and if they aren’t having any success, moving some 10-20m and repeating the process. This has been very successful with fish to 45cm commonly mixed in with a bag of fish in the high 30s.

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 6-10m of water. In this depth you are contending with current, so sinkers in the 5-6oz weight range will be required when fishing either side of the tide changes. A paternoster rig works best in these situations.

As there are small snapper also in the port, along with silver trevally and salmon, tie the paternoster rig from at least 15lb fluorocarbon for its abrasion resistance. This will prevent many bust-offs with larger fish. Baits can also differ greatly depending on the location you’re fishing. 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, having a small selection of options will see you through a good session.

Solid whiting are often hard to come by at times, but from previous experience, fishing the deeper, more reefy areas seems to be where fish over 45cm are regularly caught. Finding these areas takes time and patience, 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 of late on the whiting. Using the above techniques in the deep areas off the North Arm, Shaun has been putting his clients on 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 the Kilcunda and Cape Schank areas, but so far, nothing of extraordinary size. Most have ranged 20-50kg. 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. The Flinders Bank has been producing some magnificent flathead with some sandies up to 60cm.

Over the next few weeks, the offshore fishery will really heat up, especially when the kings start harassing the bait schools both offshore and in the Western Entrance.

Until next time, get amongst it!

Photo courtesy of Shaun Furtiere.

Photo courtesy of Shaun Furtiere.

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