Reports of mako sharks still dominate the offshore scene, while inside the port there are plenty of gummies being caught. Add some other great species like kingfish and whiting and March should bring some great all round angling great action.
The mako fishing has been very consistent offshore this season, with good numbers of small fish but very few weighing over the 50kg mark. Average fish have been 25-35kg with plenty of 15kg rockets thrown into the mix. Cranbourne Fishing Tackle staff member Scott Harper and friend Wayne landed one fish of 35kg using a slimy mackerel bait on their first outing for the season. The boys started in 70m of water at 4am before drifting back to the 50m line. They had the mako hooked and landed before sunrise.
Like many anglers, Scott found the arrow squid and barracouta in plague proportions, which sometimes made it impossible to keep a shark bait in the water.
The bottom fishing offshore has kept anglers busy while they wait for the toothies to bite. Some fantastic bags of tiger flathead, pinkies, and the odd gummy shark really make the journey offshore worthwhile. I was particularly impressed by the quality of the tiger flathead, with several anglers finding patches of these enormous, tasty critters.
It is not uncommon to find schools of yellowtail kingfish close to shore during March. Some anglers have already reported the odd “greenback” harassing hooked salmon while they are being retrieved. It is rare that we receive reports of quality kingfish catches as most anglers travelling offshore overlook them in favour of sharks.
I believe that many anglers underestimate the numbers of kings on shallow offshore reefs. If specifically targeted with small livebaits these brutes can show up in large schools and have a tendency to fight like Mike Tyson. Likely areas are the 15-30m reefs off Pyramid rock, Punchbowl and Kilcunda.
The channels of the top end of Western Port have been fishing extremely well for gummy sharks for a few months now. Channels including Boultons and Lyalls are producing plenty of gummies averaging around 6kg, with the biggest weighed in at Cranbourne Fishing Tackle going just over 12kg.
Bigger gummies have also been taken inside the port, particularly around Tortoise Head and Sandy Point. The larger gummies prefer this deeper water, often around 20m, where they feed freely in the strong currents. Trevally fillet, cured eel and squid heads have accounted for most fish. Try fishing your strip baits on large circle hooks, sizes 6/0–9/0, in these fast currents. These hooks take the guesswork out of deciding when to strike, which can be difficult in deep water.
Customer Danny Sharban and his mate Donny invited me for a fish recently. After heading out from the eastern entrance targeting makos, the wind blew up unexpectedly and forced us to change plans and retreat back inside the port. We rigged up a few gummy rods, hoping to get Donny his first gummy and salvage something of the night. After all of five minutes in the 35 knot winds, he nailed his first ever gummy shark of around 3kg.
Anglers have had mixed results chasing King George whiting along the spit. These fish can be patchy but some thumpers to 48cm have been caught. Pipis, squid strips and mussels have accounted for most bags.
Speaking of mussels, I showed some customers that the mussels we were selling were indeed alive. After shucking one of the molluscs I sucked the juicy flesh from the shell, much to the horror of Anthony New and Andrew Norton. I explained to the boys that we just had the mussels delivered from a mussel farmer and they were food grade, despite the fact that they were destined for use as bait. Although I discourage people from consuming fishing bait, it goes to show the confidence our suppliers have in their products.
Surf beaches have been fishing well lately with customer Jason Shields and his mates landing a gummy of 5kg from Gunnamatta on a squid strip. The guys also managed a few nice salmon.
Cowes pier has seen lots of small barracouta taken on metal lures. These fish make fantastic fresh bait that snapper and gummies absolutely adore. If planning to eat barracouta always check the fillets carefully for worms, which this species are prone to (they show as fine white lines in the flesh.)
Stony Point pier has proven an angling mecca for land-based fishermen recently. Squid and trevally have been caught by anglers fishing at night, particularly around the high-tide change. Try fishing baited jigs with silver whiting or garfish if chasing squid.
Warneet pier has also been productive. In three trips customer Anthony managed to land some mullet, trevally, a couple of stingrays and a small gummy shark on a live fresh water yabby. I saw him fishing the pier with a nice burley trail of pellets, pilchards and mulie oil. It was fitting that he was the only angler I witnessed catch any fish. Putting in a little time and effort to attract fish to your spot is well worth your trouble.Reads: 1429