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Winter Coming But Don’t Be Put Off
  |  First Published: May 2006



Winter is fast approaching and while the weather really cools off about this time of year the fishing certainly doesn’t. Just be prepared to rug up!

Falling water temperatures bring about a change in active fish species in the top of the bay. Summer targets taper off and winter ones take over.

Already we’ve seen the summer snapper disappear and the whiting quietening off. But all is not lost. Simply change your focus and pursue what’s seasonally available rather than persisting for ‘poor-return’ species.

With water temperatures in the shallows warmer than the deep, a lot of anglers are starting to pay more attention to areas of the bay in less than 10m of water. Fewer fish tend to be caught at this time of year in the shallows but what they luck in numbers, they make up for in size.

May is one of my favourite times to fish the top end of the bay. The boat ramp crowds disappear, the wind tends to ease and the fishing can be surprisingly productive.

Snapper

The pinkies over the shallow reefs tend to be bigger with fish over 2kg not uncommon. The calamari start to show up in better numbers and for those who like to chase mulloway, May heralds the start of the big fish season. Add to this the bream opportunities in the rivers that fire up after some rain, along with the chance of tangling with a big winter Port Melbourne snapper, and fishing around the top end is worth the effort.

Down Black Rock way, pinkies are keeping anglers happy with fish to 48cm being taken quite regularly. Small fish are becoming less of a nuisance than in previous months. The size of fish seems to be around the 35cm mark. The best areas in April were Ricketts Point, the Aquarium mark, Half Moon Bay, Anonyma Reef and Yorkies Reef.

I’ve had lots of reports from anglers using soft plastics for pinkies with the standouts being Berkley Gulp minnows, Lunker City Fin-S fish and Snapback jerk baits. These plastics, rigged on a jighead of 1/8oz to 1/4oz depending on depth, fished with small hops across the bottom, have accounted for some great catches of late.

Anglers chasing pinkies on bait have done well on half and full pilchards as well as strips of fresh squid. Early morning and late afternoon have been the most productive times by far, regardless of the tide.

Salmon

Salmon have been caught between Ricketts Point and Brighton. Sizes have varied with pods of fish around 1.5kg being most common but fish of up to 3kg have made the odd appearance.

Casting soft plastic stickbaits and small metal slugs to feeding fish (if you can find them) has been the most reliable method but trolling bibbed minnows has also accounted for quite a few fish, along with a few big pike.

Gars & Squid

The area from Brighton to St Kilda is still producing garfish in the shallows as well as a few calamari.

Pinkies have started to make an appearance over the reef patches off St Kilda, with soft plastics accounting for most fish. The evenings, just before dark, have fished best.

The Piers

Port Melbourne, around the piers, has been fishing very well for a range of species.

Soft plastic anglers fishing around the pylons of Princess Pier have been catching plenty of bream. Some anglers are reporting seeing huge schools of bream moving around the piers. This is providing some great sight fishing for those with small soft plastics rigged on very light jigheads or resin heads.

Most fish have been around the 32cm mark but fish of over 40cm have been consistently hooked. A lot have gained their freedom care of the many barnacle encrusted pylons.

Mixed in with these bream are pinkies to 48cm, silver trevally to 39cm and some great flathead over the 50cm mark.

Mulloway

Rob from the Compleat Angler in the CBD reports that some of his regular mulloway enthusiasts have started to catch fish to 10kg around the piers in Port Melbourne. Live mullet, rigged about 8ft below a float, have been the bait of choice. Fished around a change of tide after dark will put you in with a shot.

There have been some reports of anglers hooking unstoppable fish so make sure your tackle is top quality. Rob also reports that some younger mulloway enthusiasts, fishing in the Docklands, took quite a few mulloway in late March and early April. These fish have ranged from 4 to 18kg and, once again, live mullet has been the gun bait.

Altona

Dave from the JV Laverton store tells me that customers have been catching some great pinkies to 48cm off the Cardinal mark. Soft plastics have again dominated with the standout plastic being the pumpkinseed Berkley Gulp shads.

Dave also reports that anglers fishing for pinkies have encountered some bigger snapper that have been too large for the light tackle that most plastics anglers have been using. If you do intend chasing these fish he highly recommends using stronger hooks on your jigheads.

Dave also tells me that large pike are still being caught around Altona by anglers trolling bibbed minnows. One of Dave’s mates was trolling for pike recently when he hooked and landed a 4.5kg salmon.

Anglers drifting around the four sticks off Altona have managed some great flathead of late. Fish over 50cm have been quite common. Drifting with whitebait and pilchards has been productive. Soft plastics are also yielding flathead.

Rivers

Both the Yarra and Maribyrnong have been fishing very well of late for bream. Soft plastics seem to be accounting for most fish.

Fishing around bridges and rockwalls, using soft plastics from the Berkley Gulp range or other scented plastics has helped when the water is a bit coloured after rain. Bream over 40cm were caught in early April although most were in the low 30cm bracket.

Quite a few anglers have also reported landing snapper to 3kg in the Yarra while targeting bream on soft plastics. I have a feeling these fish might be responsible for a few ‘dropped mulloway’ stories that anglers have been telling.

With The Hotties not far from firing up it shouldn’t be too long until the tailor run starts in full swing. A few small tailor have been caught already so let’s hope this year’s run is better than last year’s.

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