The king’s March
  |  First Published: March 2017

If you haven’t heard of yellowtail kingfish by now, you’re about to. They can be one of the fussiest fish I have ever encountered, but one of the hardest fighting and they do alright on the plate as well.

This has been possibly the best kingfish season we’ve seen in the region that I can remember. I’ve heard the stories of how it used to be, but never thought I’d see the kingfish resurrection in my lifetime. Anglers have been ripping into the kingfish from Apollo Bay to the Rip and they have shown up along the eastern side of Port Phillip Bay.

Smart fishos should remember that they were once caught inside Corio Bay, so we should be prospecting any areas where there is artificial or natural structure. They will show up there one day; it’s just a matter of time.

The best fish by far has been caught by Michael Moore of Trelly’s Tackle World in Geelong. Michael was fishing in 30m of water out off Barwon Heads where he saw a stack of slimy mackerel on the sounder. Wasting no time grabbing a few for bait, he hooked one up live and sent it down. He hooked into the giant, and after 40-minute fight, a donkey of a kingfish weighing in at a staggering 21.8kg was lying on the deck! That’s a whopper in anyone’s language.

Most of the kingfish caught by anglers fishing either side of The Rip have been caught on knife jigs, fresh or live squid or any other live bait such as salmon, garfish and anything else they can fit in their mouths. The best bet has been to hit The Rip during slack water where there is no tidal flow. This varies heaps and you should check the tidal streams before heading out. Downrigging live baits such as squid, garfish and salmon has also been very effective for kingfish ranging from legal length to 95cm and close to 10kg.

The Barwon River in Geelong has seen a few redfin on the bite. They are not that big, but a bit of fun for those throwing soft plastics parallel to the bankside weed beds. I took my eight-year-old son Max down the Barwon near breakwater where we lobbed a live gudgeon out and caught a small redfin after flipping a few snags on a BBQ and just doing some dad and son stuff – highly recommended!

The Barwon River estuary has seen quality silver trevally up to 40cm caught on pipis on the incoming tide, while whiting have been biting down at the mouth of the outgoing tide.

The Anglesea River has made a bit of a comeback with a few bream biting. Hudson Eales, who is eight years old, lobbed out a chunk of blue bait out recently and was rewarded with a ripping bream of 35cm, so it is well worth a look.

The Bellarine Peninsula has been producing some quality whiting either side of 40cm.

Rod Ludlow from Beachlea Boat Hire at Indented Head reports the whiting are slower where the tides don’t flow as hard. Rod says anglers should keep an eye out for bigger tides. There have been a few reasonable catches along the edge of the deep water from Governors Reef back towards the Prince George Light.

Rod has had quite a few good size pinkies and even some snapper to about 4kg out around the Prince George Bank with the best time being high tide.

Squid are still around in numbers, but be prepared to move around to find them. Governors Reef has been the best. Rod notes that the ever-reliable flathead are in good numbers, but are fishing much better on the flood tides.

Danny Skene has been doing well on the snapper out off Clifton Springs. Danny has been catching quality fish around 5kg on and after dark using silver whiting for bait. Danny has set up a Facebook page called Danny Skene Fishing for those who are interested in catching a few snapper in and around the Bellarine Peninsula.

Adam Skurka camped down and Princetown with his family where they fished from the surf beach and caught plenty of Australian salmon around the 1kg mark.

Australian salmon can be tough to work out, but they have been terrorising baitfish around Point Henry in Corio Bay. Matt Bruce took to his kayak and dragged a few surface lures about and caught a salmon around 35cm, which seems about average size for this time of year in Corio Bay.

If things are too rough for offshore stuff, don’t forget the Queenscliff boat harbour. It can be very productive for silver trevally, salmon, whiting, squid and the odd pinkie snapper. Dean McDonald took his sons Hunter and Harvey out off Queenscliff recently where they caught squid and cuttlefish near Swan Bay and a few cracking trevally fishing with pilchard fillets inside the Queenscliff boat harbour.

March can see an increase of whiting inside Corio Bay, so hit the water early as they bite well in the shallows near the Point Henry sand spit.

Kingfish should be high in the agenda, however expect them to taper off around the end of the month if the water cools. King George whiting should be on the bite around Queenscliff to Grassy Point on the Bellarine with St Leonards being the hotspot. Get on it!

• Catch a few around Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula or Surf Coast to Lorne recently? Send in a report to --e-mail address hidden-- with ‘VFM’ in the subject field or give me a call on 0408 997 348. Please include where (without giving away your secret spot!), when, what on and who caught the fish. Pictures are always great, but please make sure they are at least 1mb (file size).

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