Like hundreds of other Westernport aficionados, I look forward to September each year. Quite simply, it’s the month of change. The water warms after a long, cold winter and many of our favourite species enter the shallow waters we love to fish. The days grow longer, the sun warmer and anglers across the state prepare the fishing gear for another fantastic season. Personally, I can’t wait to wet a line!
Let’s start the report with a fairly controversial topic: professional fishing in Western Port. For some time the Victorian Government has been buying back professional fishing licenses in order to reduce the number of pro fishermen working in the port. Several times now I’ve heard anglers remark “it won’t be long until the pros are out” – but until recently the progress seems to have been slow. Details are still sketchy, but I now have it on good authority that all professional fishing operations within Western Port will end by November 1, 2007.
Most recreational fishermen feel that this will greatly improve fish stocks, though I have also noted that very few people are genuinely well informed about the current catch statistics of recreational fishermen versus professional quotas. I hope to speak with the relevant authorities shortly, including Fisheries and a professional fisherman who has been working on Western Port for some time, and will cover this topic in greater detail in the October issue.
Anzacs Beach at Woolamai on Phillip Island has been the real standout in the local surf fishing stakes. Salmon to 1.9kg have been taken there on large salted pilchards and fluoro surf poppers. The last half of the flood tide usually brings the ‘sambos’ into the near shore gutters, and a little berley will help get things going if the action starts slowly.
The Keysborough Angling Club held a surf competition in early August that was very successful. A total of 19 anglers caught 62 salmon and a couple of yellow-eye mullet. Bluebait, whitebait, pilchards and poppers all caught fish, and its good to hear that many salmon were released.
Warneet Pier is one of those locations that never cease to amaze me. At Cranbourne Tackle World we received yet another peculiar report from this iconic fishing platform. Apparently some of our regular customers caught some crabs in a drop net that were not dissimilar to blue swimmer crabs. It was only a few issues ago that I wrote about unusual captures and mis-identified fish species, and here we are again.
Unfortunately there is no photo of the critters so I checked my favourite fish ID book, Australian Seafood, Domestic Species from CSIRO. It seems that Portunus pelagicus, the blue swimmer crab, resides in every state on the mainland except Victoria. That’s not to say it wasn’t a blue swimmer, in fact I swear I’ve seen several small blue swimmers in the shallows near Mud Island in Port Phillip during January 2006. It’s not unreasonable to think that a few small crabs may have hitched a ride on the occasional warm currents that sweep past South Australia towards Victoria. We may never know.
Flinders Pier has also received its fair share of attention recently. Several large calamari squid have begun to enter the surrounding shallow weed beds. September and October are great months for chasing big squid, so the action is likely to improve even more. Stony Point Pier can also be worth trying, particularly at night an hour either side of high tide.
Customer Peter Berkhout fished with his father last month from San Remo Pier, to land 13 mullet and a silver trevally. This location would have to be one of the most reliable places for trevally. Often huge schools will take a temporary residence here during the strongest part of the tide. The key is to drop some fish pellets soaked in oil into a berley pot and suspend it 50cm below the surface. This will draw the fish to within a few metres of the angler, so don’t cast too far away.
Staff members Dylan and Mark landed a very early season snapper of 4kg on a salmon fillet in early August. The boys were fishing for gummies in the Corinella Hole, the deepest part of Western Port at nearly 40m. The fish was a very bright silvery red, with iridescent spots typical of a new season fish rather than a resident, which can tend to be much darker. They also managed a gummy shark and some flathead, which was a great effort considering the weather at the time.Reads: 1939