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April weather accounting for hot autumn fishing
  |  First Published: April 2017



Warm, mild and mostly consistent weather has continued on the south of the bay. Over the early parts of last month, we had our first extended period of hot weather for the season. This always tends to fire up the action in close to shore especially, bringing bait, forage fish and of course hungry predators along with them. Stay tuned for more reports over the next couple of months – I reckon we are in for our best fishing of the season so far.

With a lot of other fishing action going on farther afield, particularly on the gamefishing front, many of the regular snapper-heads have packed up their gear for the moment. Reports have been few and far between. Most of the action seems to be coming from in closer to shore at the moment, especially in and around the mussel farm off Mount Martha, and also wider around the yachting markers out from Mornington.

Most of these fish have been smaller, around 2-3kg. There have been enough larger models around to keep anglers keen. The peak bite periods have been around first and last light and also around the tide changes, especially close to dusk. Use good quality fresh bait and expect these fish to move further south as the water cools in the autumn months ahead.

Encouragingly, there have been some real quality snapper taken by dedicated land-based anglers targeting peak inshore feeding periods after strong onshore winds. There’s nothing like a good southwesterly blow to get things going, and the land-based snapper anglers know it. Mornington Pier has produced the odd nice fish. Most have come from the rocks further south around Mount Martha. Fresh whiting heads have been the standout bait of late.

Conveniently, the whiting fishing has been very good of late, with many boat and land-based anglers reporting solid bags of fish right along the eastern shoreline, especially in the more southern areas. The average size of the fish this year certainly seems to be bigger, and the fish are in great condition, just like the run of whiting in Western Port.

I’m a sucker for a feed of fresh whiting fillets and they definitely seem to give you points for effort in the bait department. I’ve done my PB on fresh squid and mussels of late, but pipis, Bass yabbies and banana prawns have all done their fair share of damage.

Big numbers of hard-fighting fish have been moving up and down the eastern shoreline over the past month or so and this will continue for a while yet. Often they are right up along the beach gutter and can be seen easily. Otherwise, look for working birds, surface activity or even mahimahi will give their presence away.

Local piers have been getting regular afternoon visits from resident schools, particularly Frankston and Seaford during the windy late afternoon periods. Fishing metal slugs or soft plastics on light gear or even unweighted baits is very effective when the salmon are around, and lots of fun as well. They are a first class bait, and make pretty good tucker as well when eaten fresh.

Conversely on the calm, still and warmer days, the kingfish action has been best in our local waters. The kingfish season in the rip and along the East and West Coast has been off the scale this year, but there have been plenty of fish in our local waters as well. Primarily, most of the captures and reports are coming from reef areas, especially around Mornington and Frankston.

It’s well-known that yellowtails like whiting. I have had a few anglers report being destroyed on their whiting gear when fishing in close. Still, these elusive fish can be hit and miss. Stick to the calm, still warm days and you’ll be in the hunt. Live gars, squid and small salmon are prime baits, as well as squid strips and a variety of cast and trolled lures. Sometimes you need to throw the whole tackle box at them!

It’s no surprise the kingfish are around of late. There are big numbers of gars in close and also out wide. Get a good berley trail going and use some fresh bait. You’ll be in for some fun on light gear and a pretty good feed as well. Mornington Pier has been especially good, but they tend to go a little quiet when the predators are around. Early mornings are best. Further south Blairgowrie Marina has been very productive as well.

For the lure anglers, some very solid bream have been taken in the Patterson River canals over the past month, especially on surface lures. I’ve also seen photos of nice mulloway as well. Expect these reports to become more frequent over the next couple of months as the water cools down a bit. A few nice perch have been coming from this area as well, and also from Devilbend Reservoir, where the stocked EP are beginning to grow to a decent size.

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