Tucked away on the southwestern shore of Western Port, Flinders Pier is one of the best land-based locations in the port for catching a variety of species, especially calamari and whiting. In this profile, Jarrod Day gives us a run down of how and when to fish this pier.
The Flinders Pier is a large pier made from wood. At the end of the pier the water is about 6m deep with sand and seaweed patches surrounding the area. It is the weed that provides shelter for calamari, while whiting feed in the sand patches. Soft plastic anglers can also fish from this pier as the water is usually crystal clear and the tide doesn’t run too hard in this area.
The most productive way to fish for calamari from the pier is to use a float set up with a squid prong (see diagram). Silver whiting is the best bait but don’t underestimate the humble pilchard. This oily fish also works very well. Leader lines need to be strong, around 10-15kg for lifting your catch up onto the pier. Surf style rods are adequate to enable long casts to where the squid are lurking. If you’re into flicking prawn imitation jigs around, use a light 2-4kg spin rod and 2500 series reel. You will still require a strong leader unless fishing from the lower landings where the squid can be easily netted or lifted onto the platform.
To catch pike or snook, anglers are best to cast and retrieve either lazer lures or soft plastics. Mainlines of 2-3kg are adequate on a 2500 series reel. Rods can be 2-4kg for that light tackle approach. Minnow imitations like Berkley Pearl Watermelon 3” Bass minnows work well. Otherwise, the River2Sea Sea Rock 40g lazer in white gets great distance to cover more area around the pier. If you want to bait fish for these toothy fish you are best to berley and cast unweighted pilchard fillets into the trail on size 8 long-shanked hooks. If you’re still getting bitten off, upsize your leader to 15kg fluorocarbon.
The sand patches that can be seen on sunny days are where anglers can find good numbers of King George whiting. A paternoster rig tied using 6kg fluorocarbon works well with size 8 long-shanked hooks. Best baits are pipis, mussel or fresh squid strips. It is best to pick a sand patch and fish it for a little while, then if nothing bites wind in and cast to the next one until you find the fish. Alternatively, along the main path of the pier in the shallower water is also a good location to try for whiting. This area is mainly sand and casting towards the moored boats is often a successful tactic.
Leatherjackets hide out amongst the weed patches, Using the same rig and hooks as you would for whiting can also be successful on leatherjackets. Small pilchard strips or pipis are the best baits. Dropping a paternoster rig with similar baits next to the pylons of the pier is another good location for ‘leatheries’. The only downfall is you will loose a few from busting your line against the barnacle-encrusted pylons.
By nightfall, gummy fishing is at its best. Long casts into deeper water during a high tide are necessary. Surf rods of 10 to 12ft are adequate. Reels should be spooled with 10kg mainlines. The best rig is a running sinker rig made from 30kg leader and 5/0 hooks in either a suicide or circle pattern. Best baits are cured eel fillet, salmon fillet, and fresh calamari or tuna fillets.
The distance between the water level and the top of the pier is quite a long way. Anglers wishing to land their catch are recommended to use a net. An extendable net is ideal but it must have a strong handle of 2-3m. Otherwise a gaff can be used.
If you catch a pike, snook or even a whiting, rig them up as a livebait and balloon them out into deeper water. There are plenty of sharks that pass by this pier as it opens into Bass Strait. Although the water around the pier isn’t that deep, there is water of up to 10m within casting distance. If you have a livebait in the water and a shark passes by it is sure to pick up on its distress signals, so you could soon find yourself toe to toe with a toothy. Heavy game gear is required with 15kg rods being ideal. Mainlines should be 15-24kg, with your chosen live bait rigged on a strong wire trace.
A high tide provides the best fishing at this location. Anglers fishing a high tide at night do well fishing for calamari, but gummy sharks can also be taken. An early morning high tide is also a productive time to fish for calamari, whiting and other species.
From Hastings follow the Frankston–Flinders Road until you reach Flinders. Go through the round about and follow Bass Street down to the car park. The pier is directly in front of the car park. Melway Reference: Map 262, B 9.
NEAREST TACKLE AND BAIT
Cranbourne Tackle World, 270 South Gippsland Highway, Cranbourne (03) 5996 6500.
United Service Station, 219 Marine Parade, Hastings (03) 5979 2438.
Calamari (squid), pike, snook, King George whiting, leatherjacket, gummy sharks.