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Possible new spawning ground for whiting
  |  First Published: April 2017



As our days shorten, the long weekend of Easter sees many anglers plan a serious fishing assault and it can be a great time to target a wide variation of species in the bay area.

While you are out on the bay, keep an eye on your King George whiting for a little extra hanging off them! The University of Melbourne is undertaking a project that has been funded by the Victorian Recreational Fishing Licence Grant Scheme. The project is investigating the likelihood of a new unknown area where Victorian King George whiting go to spawn.

The whiting that we catch in the bay are juveniles and less than four years of age. Existing research shows that these fish may not be spawning in the known areas and may be in a new area. Researchers have paired up with recreational anglers to undertake a tagging program that will investigate the movement of King George whiting in our bays.

The project has recently gotten underway in the past couple of months and in the first year up to 2000 whiting will be tagged in Port Phillip Bay and Western Port. More fish will be tagged over the following two years as well to provide further information for the study.

Keep an eye out for whiting with a yellow T bar tag under their dorsal fin. These tags have a unique number printed on them. If you do manage to catch a tagged whiting, you can provide assistance to the research team with valuable information.

Researchers ask that you report the tag number, along with the re-capture date and location, as well as the fish length, preferably nose to the fork of the tail, or total length as a second option. Researchers would also appreciate if anglers were willing to donate the frozen frame of the recaptured fish and contact the team (along with the tag) to be collected so that project scientists can assess the age and reproductive condition of re-captured fish. A great help is to also keep the stomach of the fish. Early results are great, with some fish already being recaptured!

Anglers can also release the tagged whiting, but researchers ask that you record the details of tag number, the location caught (GPS preferred), fish length and as much detail as possible, even photos will be of assistance. To report any recapture information, a dedicated project email address has been set up: --e-mail address hidden-- You can also phone (03) 5258 3686 or mail (G. Jenkins, VMSC, PO Box 114, Queenscliff Vic 3225).

Bellarine Peninsula to Werribee

Anglers on the hunt for whiting have seen some solid catches with the addition of ever-reliable berley. The pick of locations in the last few weeks has been Clifton Springs to Point Richards at Portarlington. Some great fish up to 40cm in length have been taking a liking to pipi baits. Since the water has started to cool, the pipi has been far and away the best option. As the bay keeps getting colder in the upcoming months, it is well worth searching further south, as St Leonards and surrounding areas come into their own.

Moving back towards Werribee, the areas from Kirks Point to the Werribee South Marina have still produced whiting. The bite windows are becoming very short, mainly around the last light of the day. The fishing is a little patchy and hard work, but still well worth the time. Great by-catches of flathead and calamari are always on offer.

Glenn Greene headed out recently with Daniel Riosa and Cam Beazley, with the boys having a ball landing a great bag of whiting up to 40cm. Pipis were the standout bait. Daniel mentioned how crucial it was to berley hard with Zealcol Whiting Snack and it really fired the fish up. The guys also managed a great feed of calamari to top off the trip.

Altona to Williamstown

A great area to target decent flathead during autumn is around the Apex Park and Altona area. Drift and cover ground across the shallow muddy or sandy areas for a great way to work up a feed. This method proves very versatile. Drifting blue bait or pilchard fillets on a long shank or baitholder 1/0 is an all round great option.

You can also really maximise your chances with soft plastics cast around the boat. Grab yourself the ever-reliable paddle-tail or grub style plastics for plenty of action and vibration. Rhythmically hop them off the bottom and stay in contact and you should have a feed of flatties in quick time.

The Williamstown Cricket Ground reefs really fish well from now on. Numbers of pinkies will reside through the area all winter and the usual size is up to 40cm. Sounding and targeting areas with some bait and structure in 6-10m is successful. This is also a great kayak location to have a blast!

Lure anglers have been doing well with Berkley Gulp jerk shads in 5” size. Camo colour is probably one of the best to use during the cooler months, as it just keeps on catching. Don’t be afraid at this time of year to upsize your plastics and limit the number of smaller fish that attack your lures.

Metropolitan
Rivers

Autumn in the rivers really steps things up. The warm summer waters subside and we get some great fishing all the way from Williamstown to the upper reaches of the rivers. Williamstown Anchorage area is a great spot for variety. Bream, salmon, mullet, trevally, pinkies and mulloway begin to regularly appear. Moving up in the rivers, the Maribyrnong proves always reliable, especially if you focus on the mid reaches around Flemington along the edges, as they usually hold good fish. Use the tides to your advantage and fish the high tides around first and last light.

Bait anglers do well with a subtle berley trail and baits such as scrub worms, shrimp and maggots. Small suspending hardbodies are always a great option, like Imakatsu Wasps. The Cranka Crab has earned its place in folklore. A new larger size has just been released and it will be interesting to see the success in the metro rivers with some solid bream, pinkies and no doubt mulloway ready to tackle it. Further upstream can be a great chance at a varied bag. Estuary perch and the deeper bridges and holes throughout the system will soon see mulloway making an appearance.

BEEN FISHING?

I’d love to see and hear fishing experiences in the local area! Send through fishing reports and high-resolution photos of your great catches to --e-mail address hidden-- with as much detail as you are happy to share.

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