Mix it up, Buttercup
  |  First Published: May 2017

The weather transition has well and truly hit as the hot days are seemingly behind us and the cooler temperatures start to set in. This isn’t a bad thing for fishing, just for the fishers in some cases. Personally the cool, crisp mornings of autumn and spring are what I love and what set the scene for some really solid fishing.

Squid and Whiting

It’s not only these bread and butter species that are on offer, but why look past them when they are biting the way they are through the April and May periods?

Squid and whiting have been a mainstay since the start of 2017, but it’s this time of year when fishing for them can change slightly. Anglers have been enjoying more consistency on the whiting in slightly deeper water than over summer. Depths of 4-6m on gradual drop-offs near channels and sand banks out from Sorrento, Blairgowrie and even up further toward the heads seem to be holding good fish.

It’s all cocktail baits this month! Don’t be afraid to mix up your offering of baits and try the likes of squid, cuttlefish, pipi and mussel. Even a cheeky little bit of pilchard works a treat!

When you are setting yourself up, it’s handy to have a couple of running sinker rigs cast out the back corners of the boat about 5m+ with a single size 6 long shank hook. While they are out there doing their thing, dropping a couple of paternoster rigs straight down with a small bomb sinker is a good option. This covers most of the area you’re fishing, because as long as you’re using a berley pot, you’re fishing the direct area near it, and behind it where the flow is dragging that berley trail.

Squid have been almost ‘best on ground’ this year! Just when we thought they might back off and give us a bit of a lean period – nope! They haven’t gone anywhere and in fact, in a lot of areas, the bite has been better and the squid have been bigger than other parts of the year. Why? No idea, but let’s keep enjoying it!

In regard to what jigs are standing out, if you have taken notice of the majority of early morning conditions of late, there has been a lot of cloud cover and overcast mornings. This equates to simple jig selections; any dark foils like red, brown, black, blue and cloths ideally with greens and browns. In my experience, cloth colour and pattern isn’t as vital at this time of day in these conditions.

Another tip is don’t be afraid to fish bigger jigs than you’d normally be comfortable with. It’s all about your jig being a presence down there! Peninsula anglers have been finding size 3.0 jigs in 2-6m of waterr are doing some damage!

Pier Species

Another fantastic part of this season is the fact that what I call ‘pier species’, Australian salmon and silver trevally, really come out to play along the peninsula. I’d usually include garfish into this category, but I haven’t heard consistent reports of gars. I’m more than happy to be corrected on this and if you have some good reports please feel free to shoot them through!

Now is as good a time as any to hit any of the piers or land-based fishing areas along the Mornington Peninsula and set yourself up with light tackle and have some fun. In a nutshell, it can be as simple as a berley log, berley bag, size 6 or 8 circle hook and bait like pilchard, squid, or pipi cut up into small pieces. Late afternoons and early mornings are the time that many anglers have been enjoying this form of fishing. It’s only going to improve as we move away from the warmth into the chilly mid part of the year.

Setting up shop and lowering your berley bag into the calm water around the pier pylons is how you start and some anglers are reporting fish appearing in literally minutes! From here dropping small unweighted baits and letting them drift down with the berley will almost guarantee a bite.

So far I have received reports of tommy ruff (Australian herring) appearing with silver trevally, calamari and salmon and even in places like Blairgowrie Marina. Whiting are popping up too. This is a great mixed bag of fishing for land-based enthusiasts or even weekenders who want a no-fuss fishing session!

The standout Mornington Peninsula species at the moment are King George whiting, southern calamari, silver trevally and Australian salmon. An honourable mention goes to yellowtail kingfish for those willing to put in!

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