March on with mixed bags
  |  First Published: March 2017

Warm and mostly settled conditions have prevailed once again on the bay over the past month, and while we haven’t had the extended warm periods of weather we are used to at this time of year so far, many of the fishing patterns and angler trends have been true to the norm.

For the most part, angler focus has been concentrated around the action further south and also farther afield, but there have still been plenty of anglers trying their luck in our local areas, and with good success.

It’s hard to know what’s going to happen for the rest of this season on the snapper, but as it was the same last month, there has still been plenty of reports coming in, mostly from the deeper areas out from Mornington, Mount Martha and Safety Beach. Smaller school-sized fish are also still around in big numbers out from Carrum and Seaford in the usual areas. Expect these larger groups of fish to move further south as summer ends and the water temperatures start to fall.

Larger, more solitary snapper are still around in good numbers and are well worth spending time on your sounder before fishing to locate them. First and last light closer inshore, and around reef and structure are good places to start, and during the middle of the day, deeper marks and particularly wider marks close to the main shipping channel are the key areas. Lately, regular by-catch of gummy shark in the deeper areas has also been an extra incentive for the snapper anglers putting in the hours out wide.

The kayak anglers and boaties drift spinning with soft plastics have taken plenty of pinkies and smaller snapper around the mussel farm and the surrounding reefs. There’s been plenty of by-catch in these areas of pike, flathead, red mullet and some solid salmon as well.

Some larger schools of salmon have been working the coastline right along from Olivers Hill to Safety beach, and are normally easy to spot due to active birds or surface disturbance. They will often be right in close to shore as well; so don’t be shy to have a look right along the beach gutters for feeding fish. They can easily be caught from the shore as well, and will readily take a fast wound lure, soft plastic, and will also take almost any bait.

The local kingfish population still seems to be growing in numbers, and much like the big numbers of smaller fish in The Rip this year, there seems to be a strong population of kingies in the 60-80cm size range around Mornington at the moment. With so much food on offer and lots of structure to hunt around, they can still be a little hard to find, and to tempt. I slow trolled a live squid on the downrigger for a couple of hours recently around a reef where I had seen a large school a week previously for no result. Friebe 0, Kingfish 1. Stay tuned for an update on my results in next month’s report!

Big numbers of garfish have been around of late, which is one of the main reasons the kingfish are around our local reefs at the moment. Consequently, they can be a little sketchy and timid, but will respond well to berley, especially in deeper areas. Get them going closer to shore, and it’s worth having a live one out the back, just in case the kingies show up! Silverfish, maggots and peeled prawn are your best baits, and the gars will also take a small soft plastic or even fly.

Squid numbers have also been very consistent right along the eastern shoreline, even though they are getting a daily hammering from boat and land-based anglers all the way along from Frankston to Safety Beach. Lately, I have found that white UV and green jigs with a red under foil have been the most productive, and also that slightly deeper reefs in 3-5m of water have been better. This is no doubt a result of greater pressure on the shoreline areas.

The Patterson River has once again been producing some nice bream for the bait and lure anglers in the main river itself, and through the canal system. Schools of smaller salmon have also been prevalent around the mouth for anglers spinning with lures and plastics. These are a popular target for anglers looking for fresh baits for gummies and snapper, and for those after a bit of fun as well.

Big schools of mullet are also in the river at the moment, and are keeping the pole anglers busy.

I have also had a few reports of some nice mulloway being taken in the river as well; I would expect to see this more regularly in the months to come.

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