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It’s shark season, no sharkasm!
  |  First Published: May 2017



It must be gummy shark month. Those fishing the port have been inundated with the opportunistic critters. Although gummy sharks are available to catch throughout the year, during the summer months it’s mainly smaller gummies that are caught. Sure, the odd larger model is caught here and there, but it’s now that you’ll catch fish in excess of 12kg if you’re fishing in the right location.

Larger gummy sharks caught at this time of year tend to be females that enter the port to have their pups before heading offshore again. In general, the fishery for larger gummies is from February until May and right now they are still about. In recent weeks, gummies over 20kg have been caught on a regular basis with the Western Entrance being the top area to find them.

The Western Entrance is not an easy location to fish either, due to the force of the current. If you’re planning on a trip to this area, be prepared with the right boating equipment such as the right amount of anchor rope, anchor chain and a good anchor such as a Sarca.

The Western Entrance is full of honey holes that the gummies frequently pass by and it pays to do your research first. Areas like buoys 12, 14, 11, 7 and 5 are great areas to set anchor and try your luck. If you do drop the pick, don’t up and move after an hour or so, just sit and wait. Gummies continually move throughout the entrance, so when the pick is dropped, expect to sit out a good five or so hours.

Gummy sharks will eat practically anything you offer them. Results show that fresh fillets of salmon, trevally and yakka are best. In saying that, you can’t go past a fresh calamari ring either.

Local angler Matt Catterson took his boys, Liam (4yo) and Taj (7yo) out in search of gummy sharks and the fish didn’t disappoint. In fact, Taj managed a beautiful hammerhead shark. The fish were caught off Elizabeth Island in about 12m on fresh slimy mackerel.

There’s always a mixed bag to be caught in the Western Entrance. On one trip, a group of anglers managed some nice gummy sharks followed up by a cracking sevengill shark. It’s important not to lose focus on the whiting yet either. The Middle Spit and surrounding areas can produce excellent results. Most of the whiting have been holding a little deeper, but despite it taking a little longer to find them, their size and numbers have been sensational.

On most whiting trips catching your bag is common. Pipi and mussel baits work best. The Western Entrance has also been producing some sensational calamari fishing, but at this time of the year, few anglers take advantage of this fishery. While the calamari are quite scattered throughout the Western Entrance, Ventnor Beach, Flynns Reef, Cat Bay, Flinders and Balnarring are producing plenty. For this time of the year, larger size jigs in the 3.0 and 3.5 sizes are recommended.

Drifting is the preferred method. Don’t discount setting anchor and bait fishing for them, as often this is the technique that catches the larger ones. If you are going to bait fish for calamari, head close to a weed bed, set anchor and start a berley trail of mashed pilchards. Then, with a silver whiting on a squid jig suspended a metre under a weighted float, let it sit in the berley trail. Then cast an artificial jig about and you’ll be surprised at what you’ll catch.

ELEPHANTS

It’s fair to say that the elephants are now on and while you might be out fishing for gummy sharks, whiting or snapper, the elephants won’t be too far away. If you’re after a solid ‘ellie sess’, head to the ‘Corals’ or at least into the Coronet Bay and Rhyll area. This is the habitat they love. With an established berley trial, they’ll sniff it out in no time.

Matt Cini recently headed to the area with Fisheries to conduct some scientific research. In a short amount of time they had enough fish caught and released to satisfy their needs and were reduced down to one rod with the amount that were about.

The coming weeks are really going to ramp up even more and while it is early in the season, it’s set to be a cracker.

The one thing that anglers tend to do when fishing for elephants is they use too big baits. Elephants have a small mouth so reduce the size of your baits down to just one pipi, a small strip of squid or a half pilchard rigged on a 3/0 circle hook for best results.

LAND-BASED OPTIONS

During this time of year, the land-based fishing hots up in a big way, especially from Flinders to Somers. Many of the beaches along this stretch fish differently, so prior research is required. Local land-based angler Justin Blythe has been out again doing what he does best and that is catching gummies. Justin recently fished through the night with his mate Heng. Together the boys managed a few cracking gummies from the sand.

Stockyard Point is also another popular land-based location and at this time of year it is all about catching elephants. This point is a low tide fishery only, but it’s currently producing plenty of elephants and the odd gummy shark. Fishing for elephants from Stockyard requires the use of a surf rod. For best results, use a running sinker rig to keep the bait close to the bottom.

This really is a top time of the year to be on Western Port. Whether you’re land-based or in a boat, there are plenty of opportunities to off anglers of all levels of experience.

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