Patto in great health
  |  First Published: May 2007

It sounds familiar I know, but there’s still no real sign of rain. The upside is some that great settled weather has offered some superb fishing. This Easter was one of the best for weather I can remember for years. Calm days and bright sunshine for the whole long weekend…I can take plenty more of that! I was down at Phillip Island with my family for the break and I must admit that casting my eye over the flat, calm ocean on Easter Monday gave me thoughts revolving around fishing not fairy penguins.

Our great bay continues to excite and delight and after some of the reports I have received this month, nothing would surprise me. I guess we are getting a taste of what the bay was like before population and pollution became a problem. Let’s hope the inevitable dredging doesn’t take us back ten years to when the bottom was ploughed for scallops and the bay looked a lot worse than it does now.

The great fishing we have experienced in the Patterson River estuary over the past few seasons is testament to the water quality of the bay and the resurgence of the natural food chain. It’s no secret to our readers that I like to chuck a few lures at bream, and on the right tide this system is one of my favourite lure fisheries, and one of the most productive. Expect to read in next month’s report of some more mighty mulloway caught. And who knows, maybe the squid will come up the river like they did last year?

Of more recent interest was a small scale netting survey conducted by Melbourne Water near the Coast Guard’s mooring jetty. The survey covered less than 50m of water and seven species of fish were recovered! These fish included whiting, flounder, garfish, toadfish, hardyheads, mullet and goby. Pretty impressive I thought, and I know that Trevor and Lynette Hogan from Launching Way were pretty amazed with the findings too. It’s little wonder that predatory fish like mulloway visit the system in search of food. Last year, anglers casting barra style lures from the bank early in the morning and at night captured most of the mulloway I know of.

Just to ice the cake, the guys at Launching Way were presented with a small kingfish taken at the mouth of the river. These fish are often found feeding with schools of salmon in the area. The surprise turned up for a couple of young anglers and weighed around 4kg. It was taken on a Lazer metal lure and was an awesome catch from the shaggy rocks that line the ‘Patto’ mouth. Well done boys!

Other land-based locations around the bay are also fishing very well for bread and butter species. Pinky snapper, salmon, squid, garfish and some ‘couta are being taken from Mornington Pier. Frankston Pier has turned up some jumbo salmon on the windier afternoons. Rye, Blairgowrie and Dromana piers have all been producing smaller salmon to about 500g on lures and bait, as well as a few pinkies early morning. Portsea and Sorrento piers are still fishing well for squid and there are enough whiting around to keep the land-based guys happy.

I spoke to a few anglers fishing the rocks at Mount Martha recently who had some lovely pinkies and whiting in their afternoon’s bag. Using freshly caught squid for bait, these anglers were fishing on a rising tide in fading light, a perfect combination for success in Port Phillip Bay from the bank.

Boat traffic has diminished over the past month, but the superb weather over the Easter holidays saw more than a few boats dragged out of the shed. The result was some nice snapper coming back to the ramps, mostly between 3-4kg in weight. Surprisingly, pilchards have been the standout bait. Snapper at this time of year are generally thinking about leaving the bay after their spawning activities and are keen to put on condition. Other baits worth considering are slimy mackerel, tuna fillets and flathead fillets.

Anglers fishing closer to shore south of Mornington have been targeting a late run of whiting. Once again, fresh bait is very important, with fresh mussels, pipis and squid the best. I tried circle hooks for whiting recently and was blown away with their success (Black Magic KL 1/0 is the best style). Fishing during the first and last light of the day will maximise your chances too.

Also cashing in on the whiting run was Jake and Dylan Ryan of Somerville. Fishing with a good mate of mine Scott Spark and their father Brett, the boys both caught their first ever whiting. A great effort, especially for Jake who took out heaviest fish for his age group on the Saturday of the Western Port Whiting Challenge with his 46cm fish.

Once again, a super month on the bay with some real quality and variety to the fishing. Every day I spend on the water is special, and I’ve met many anglers over the last few weeks that have similar thoughts. My advice is to get out there and get amongst ‘em before the cold weather arrives.

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