Over the past few weeks, we’ve been treated to some genuine winter weather. Cold, wet and windy days have served as a preview for what we should expect this season. Like every other year, the numbers of anglers hitting the water has decreased, but believe me, they don’t know what they’re missing. Rug up, pack the thermos and get ready for some quality table fish from the south of the bay.
Pinkies between 0.5 and 1.5kg have come from many of the southern reefs and should continue right through winter. They’re being taken from drifting and anchored boats, using a variety of methods. Anglers with unweighted strip baits of tuna fillet and pilchards, fished down their berley trail, are doing exceptionally well, especially during early morning missions. This technique works best in water depths of between 3 and 6m over patches of broken reef. Popular areas are Wooleys Reef, Canadian Bay, Fishermans Beach and Bird Rock.
These and other areas are also perfect for drifting and casting soft plastics. The best approach is to set up your drift upwind, and work patches of reef in a grid pattern. You will find that pinkies especially hammer your lure as it falls down onto the reef, so keep a tight line to your lure as it sinks. Plastics of choice are 3 and 4-inch Berkley Gulp Minnows and 3 and 5.5-inch Ecogear Minnows, rigged on 1/8oz to 1/4oz jigheads. A 3/0 hook size is perfect. Be prepared for a variety of bycatch when fishing this way over these shallow reefs. Expect to tangle with pike, flathead, salmon, red mullet and barracouta.
Reports of some jumbo Australian salmon patrolling the many bays between Mornington and Frankston have been coming in thick and fast over the last couple of weeks, many being taken by anglers trying their luck from the land. Cast and retrieved metal slugs and soft plastics are very effective, as well as baits suspended under a float. The use of berley can keep the hungry schools in the area for longer, and keep them biting.
And while we’re discussing all things jumbo, the squid fishing at the moment is first class. Some ripper squid are being taken from all of the popular southern reefs, including some real corkers over the 2kg mark! During a recent mission off Frankston, two of us got our bag of 10 each in less than an hour and the majority of them were over a kilo! Better still, most of them were sighted fished caught on Ecogear 2.5” Dartmaxs.
Brett Torrossi from Billfisher Tackle in Frankston reports similar results off Frankston recently, including a monster of nearly 5lb he landed from Canadian Bay, again on a Dartmax jig.
If you’re after some snapper baits for next season, now’s the time to stock up. Sounding reef off Seaford, I found several massive schools of fish, and not knowing what they were, sent a 4-inch soft plastic into the mix to find out. After the first lost lure, and then a second, it was pretty clear that Mr. Barracouta was in town, and in huge numbers.
One school was more than 200m around and nearly 5m deep! Not only are they one of the best snapper baits going around, but they’re also great fun for kids and inexperienced fishermen because they take almost anything you throw at them. 20 to 50g metal lures are best, as well as 3 to 5-inch soft plastics, especially in fluoro colours. Don’t forget the wire though, or you’ll be kept tying knots rather than dropping fish into your bin!
Land-based anglers have enjoyed some variety lately, especially from Mornington Pier. Quality garfish are keeping float anglers busy. A few small resident kingfish have been interested in the gars too. A live gar under a float wouldn’t last long at the moment!
Plenty of squid are still being taken, especially on small jigs.
Barracouta have been in plague proportions, and are a pest if you’re not targeting them.
Plenty of pinkies are also about, especially in the morning, although most are small.Reads: 2017