Despite the wintery blast we have been blanketed with these past few weeks, there has been no chance of the fishing slowing up. The surf fishing scene has well and truly kicked into high gear now with salmon invading the surf beaches right along the coast from Phillip Island to the Ninety Mile Beach.
Some of the most consistent fishing has been at Anzacs Beach, Cape Woolamai and Kilcunda. Don’t disregard those more secluded beaches in between, such as Kitty Miller Bay, Berrys Beach and, of course, Cemetery Beach just past Kilcunda. Often the main beaches become overcrowded, especially during the weekends. These secluded beaches tend to see less fishing pressure.
Berley is an essential key in surf fishing success. While there are plenty of salmon about, you still need to attract them to your fishing location. An onion bag filled with chook pellets and some pilchards will send enough fishy stench into the water to bring them to your fishing location, given you have the berley bag laying on the sand just out of the shore break.
Most of the fish so far have been in the 1-1.2kg range with the odd bigger fish being caught. While there have been fish as large as 3.3kg caught from the Mornington Peninsula beaches, it’s humbling to see fish of this size in our waters. That’s not to say that the Phillip Island beaches don’t harbour such monsters – it all comes down to picking a beach, casting out a bait and waiting to see what takes it.
Inside the Port, things are continuing to fire. With the sudden drop in water temperature, the winter species have come on the bite in a big way. Calamari have been in abundance in the shallow weed beds scattered throughout the Port. The larger ones have been holding around Flinders and Cat Bay. Flinders has been a little inconsistent, mainly due to the rain stirring up the bottom and causing the water to turn a milky colour. Although it only takes a few days to clear up, waiting for this is vital if you want to catch sizeable calamari.
The most consistent fishing for calamari has been during the night hours and on an incoming tide. There has also been a substantial amount of small baitfish in the area, which is undoubtedly the reason why the calamari are also about. Artificial jigs in the 3.0 size have been working well.
The run of calamari isn’t just confined to the bottom end of the Western Entrance either. Boaties can work the inshore reefs along the Phillip Island coastline in the Western Entrance, especially around Flynn Reef, Tyro Reef and Hen and Chickens reefs. In calm weather McHaffies Reef also yields good numbers of calamari.
Land-based anglers can also reap the benefits of the healthy calamari population and often underestimate many land-based locations. Even though it’s common to just head to a pier and try your luck, fishing from the beach at Ventnor and Cleeland Bight using a baited jig suspended under a float.
Both the aforementioned beaches are quite shallow with extensive weed beds within an easy cast from the shore. You need to keep the distance between the float and the squid jig at 1m or less, otherwise it’ll constantly become snagged on the bottom. Thinking outside the square can also lead you to some productive grounds. If you don’t mind a walk, walking the rocky shoreline from McHaffies Reef to Tyro Reef will produce some nice models. Be careful – the rocks can be slippery.
It’s not just about calamari at the moment, but it is nearly all about land-based fishing. Fishing from the shore at Settlement Point, Lang Lang and Stockyard Point has been producing nice gummy sharks for those with the patience to stick it out. The lead up to the full moon has been the most productive fishing time for the month and while the gummies have been good table fair, larger models are possible. These tend to be caught from the southern end of the Port.
Justin Blythe seems to be spending more time on the sand than on the couch and has certainly nutted out the prime times to catch a good feed of Western Port gummy sharks. Fishing the stretch of beaches from Somers to Point Leo, Justin has caught and released some very nice gummies on a variety of baits. If you are up for a land-based gummy mission, keep a close eye on the moon phases and tides and head out to try your luck. Nothing is easy when it comes to land-based gummies. Putting the time in will bring rewards.
Boat anglers have also seen good gummies caught with the larger models coming from the Western Entrance. Areas such as Buoy 5, 11, 12, 13 and 15 are good locations to sit out a tide and try for a big gummy. These areas are light highways and if you look on a GPS Map of the contour lines, you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. Set anchor, pitch out a bunch of baits and wait during the run out tides, as this is when the action will occur.
Despite many anglers hibernating during the dead cold of winter, the fish know no different. When the sun is shining or you’re just desperate to get out to wet a line, do a little research, rug up and enjoy what Western Port has on offer throughout the winter months.Reads: 2005