Bay Buzzing Despite Cold
  |  First Published: June 2006

In a strange way it’s good to see a traditional Melbourne winter with freezing southerly winds and rain followed by crisp, cold and still mornings.

But with the fishing as good as it is, where else would you want to be? At this time of the year a lot of people head north to our warmer states for the holidays and on fishing trips. But this year, more anglers are taking advantage of the great fishing in their own backyards, however cold they might be. Maybe it’s high petrol prices or maybe it’s that more anglers are realising how good the fishing has been in the top end of the bay lately.


While our summer run of pinkies over the inshore reefs was fairly average, the late run into winter has been awesome. There have been pinkies from all parts of the bay: Black Rock, Sandringham, Brighton, St Kilda, Port Melbourne, Williamstown, Altona, Point Cook and even the Yarra and Maribyrnong rivers.

Put all these spots together with fish in the 40cm plus range and it makes for top fishing. Traditional baits are accounting for lots of fish, but it’s the soft plastics that are starting to dominate reports. This method is really booming in Port Phillip Bay.

Black Rock to Brighton

Robert from the Compleat Angler’s Melbourne store reports that customers have been catching pinkies in the Black Rock area on Berkley Bass Minnows and Gulp Minnows rigged on 1/8oz jigheads. He says that the most consistent times have been early morning and dusk in water depths of between 3 and 8m, over reef or broken reef. Anglers fishing baits such as squid and pilchards have also caught good fish.

Between Black Rock and Sandringham, calamari are also making an appearance with good catches made while drifting over reef patches with smaller size squid jigs.

Shore-based anglers have done well from Beaumaris Pier by suspending small squid jigs a few feet below a float. Fishing at dusk has been the most productive time.

There are still salmon between Ricketts Point and Half Moon Bay. There seems to be a few schools of different year classes, with fish from 600g right through to 2kg. Casting small metal lures and soft plastics to feeding fish has accounted for most of these great sportfish.

Andre, from Melbourne Fishing Charters, tells me that all is not lost for whiting fishermen either. He’s been picking up whiting to 35cm for clients, fishing off Sandringham using baits of fresh squid and pipis. He’s also had consistent pinkie fishing off Sandringham in 8 to 9m using squid strips and pilchards for bait, although small fish have been a problem at times.

St Kilda to Port Melbourne

There have been pinkies between 30 and 48cm caught on the inshore reefs between Elwood and St Kilda lately. Soft plastics have been most productive. Mixed in with these have been salmon, pike and red mullet.

Calamari have also been consistent in this area, with small natural coloured squid jigs the standout performers. The size has also been great with calamari of 1kg common.

In St Kilda Harbour, bream and pinkies to 40cm have been caught on soft plastics fished around the moored boats early in the morning, as well as some bigger flathead to 50cm.

The piers around Port Melbourne are still producing some pinkies and mullet in the evenings and soft plastic anglers are still catching good bream around the pylons and rock walls.

The channel edges towards the mouth of the Yarra River have been producing good pinkies to 2kg on pilchards early in the morning and on dusk.

Andre, from Melbourne Fishing Charters, also reports that there have been massive schools of whitebait around Port Melbourne and every trip he’s seeing dolphins feeding, and sometimes seals.

Williamstown to Point Cook

Nelson, from the JV Marine Laverton store, tells me that the pinkie fishing around Williamstown and Altona has been great. They’re having a late run of fish too with some up to 2.5kg from the shallow reefs. Soft plastics have dominated – his customers have really liked Berkley’s Gulp 3” Minnows in Ginger Beer.

As well as good pinkies, Nelson tells me that anglers fishing around Altona have been doing well on calamari to 1kg lately, using Yo Zuri squid jigs in the ‘Tiger’ colour. He adds that anglers have been catching salmon between 900g and 1.5kg around Point Cook. Casting soft plastics, such as Squidgy Flickbaits, to feeding pods of fish has been great.

In close off Williamstown has been good for pinkies to 2kg with anglers doing well out from the football oval. Fresh squid strips fished in a berley trail on dusk has been very productive.

The Rivers

It’s not only the bay that’s firing – the Yarra and Maribyrnong rivers have also been fishing well. The lower section of the Yarra around the Westgate Bridge has been good for pinkies along with the odd snapper to over 3kg. Fish around 40cm are more the norm and pilchards have been the top bait with fresh squid strips a close second.

Fishermen using soft plastics have had great success targeting pinkies, fishing around drop offs and bait schools. Pinkies have also been caught in the lower Maribyrnong River, Docklands and under the Bolte Bridge, on the top of the incoming tide.

The bream fishing recently has been fantastic. Both rivers have consistently produced bream from 30 to 40cm on soft plastics and hard-bodied lures. Soft plastics with strong scents have been excellent with the Berkley Gulp Worm range leading the charge. Sinking hard-bodied lures, some of which anglers are tweaking with weighted putty to get them to sink, are also getting great results around bridges, pylons in the Docklands and deep rocky banks.

The Werribee River has also started to fish well for bream. Anglers fishing with bass yabbies on the early run-out tide have done well for fish to 43cm.

Mulloway were still being caught by dedicated anglers in the Yarra River in May. Live mullet fished below a float has been the most successful method, accounting for fish to 12kg. This time of the year should also see some jewies over 20kg come into the equation. Just make sure your tackle is up to scratch.

Well, it may be winter and it may be cold, but the fishing in the northern parts of the bay has been pretty hot and looks like staying that way. Get out there, and email me a report if you have success.

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