Cray days at Blanket Bay
  |  First Published: November 2007

I love the southwest Victorian coast at this time of year. There are longer daylight hours, warmer weather and water and heaps of fish. If you haven’t had the boat out of the shed since last summer, then make sure it gets a run this month.

Some big snapper to 4kg have been taken off Blanket Bay in 40m of water, although most fish have been less than 1kg. The occasional gummy shark has be caught down this way as well, so be prepared for a tug of war to start at anytime. Some of the gummies have been in excess of 12kg. A gaff or big landing net is essential to get them into the boat, but make sure it is strong and in good working order – I have seen plenty of fish lost to nets that give way under the strain of a big shark.

There are plenty of flathead around on the sandy grounds off Skenes Creek and Marengo, and they will bite on just about any bait or lure that hits the bottom. Concentrate your efforts between 35–40m of water, and use a two-hook paternoster rig so you don’t have to keep checking your bait every time you miss a strike. Drifting is the best way to find the fish, but if the wind is up you may need a sea anchor to slow you down.

Crayfish season opens on November 16 and plenty of seasoned snorkel and scuba divers will be out taking the opportunity to catch few crays before the masses arrive in December for their annual holidays. Crayfish can be caught just about anywhere there is reef, but some locations such as Blanket Bay and the aptly named Crayfish Bay have proven to be big cray locations year after year. You need a dead flat sea to dive these locations so let’s pray for some calm weather in November.

If diving the cold waters around Cape Otway is a bit out of your league, you can still target crays by using hoop nets from the shore or boat. This works best after dark. Bait the nets with fish frames and drop them around rocky drop-offs, checking them every 15 minutes or so. Make sure you check all the rules and regulations before heading out, and be extra careful when diving or fishing from the rocks. If it’s too rough then give it a miss until conditions improve. Don’t risk your life!

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