Clear Bay Water Worth Seeing
  |  First Published: August 2006

The relatively calm conditions from last month have prevailed and some great days have treated us throughout the last month. I didn’t say it hasn’t been cold though. Some of the early morning starts have required some serious commitment.

We went for an early session out of Frankston the other day. When we left at dawn, we looked like Eskimos, but on the way back home, several layers had been tossed to the bottom of the boat as temperatures steadily rose through the morning.

Boat and land-based anglers have been treated to some really good winter fishing lately for some of Victoria’s bread and butter species. The action hasn’t been frantic, and the fish haven’t been big and red with bumps on their heads, but there have been plenty around. At the very least, it’s worth getting out on the Bay just to see how clean and clear the water is.

Salmon sportfishing fun!

For those anglers really wanting to bend a rod this winter, I recommend a session on the Bay’s hard pulling Australian salmon. In July there were several schools hunting the shallows between Seaford and Mornington. There have also been other schools in the vicinity of Rosebud, Dromana and Blairgowrie. They’re not all that easy to locate at first, and can be spooky at times, but spend some time trolling and they should turn up.

Myself, Adam Royter and Shaun Clancy had a ripper session recently casting unweighted soft plastics into a massive school of salmon that weren’t actively feeding. These fish were patrolling the shallows out from Canadian Bay, and could not resist our offerings as we twitched them over their heads. I just love catching salmon, and in clear, shallow water, this was hard to beat. The surface strikes were mind-blowing!

From the boat

Most of the usual winter species are in good numbers at the moment, with some great shallow-water fishing for pinkies and flathead to be had. Bait fishers have been doing very well drifting for flathead with baits of bluebait, bottley squid and pilchards, especially out from Mt Eliza, Fishermans Beach and McRae.

Anglers targeting pinkies have been doing very well also, especially those fishing with the aid of a berley trail and fresh bait. The best bet is to anchor up-current from a prominent reef and let your bait and berley drift onto the structure.

Early morning starts seem to be best as the fish move into deeper water as the sun rises, especially now that the water is so clear. I prefer to use fillet baits like stripey tuna and salmon, but fresh squid and pilchards also work well.


Some great gummy sharks have been taken way down south over the past month, which is a good sign for what remains of winter. I was at the Mornington boat ramp in July and saw two very happy anglers with a quality 11kg fish.

It was taken on a fresh squid, and was one of several caught by these two over the previous couple of weeks. They had been fishing some deep marks out from Sorrento. Some of their gummies have fallen to eel fillets. Hopefully, the land-based gummy action we had last winter repeats itself. The signs look good so far.


The squid fishing has continued to be very good, but the clear water is making them hard to tempt at times. Try to find a reef that has squid in large numbers, which will create competition between the fish.

Also, it pays to use a jig in a neutral colour like brown, green or blue. Alternatively, try small baited skewers or a bit of bait wired to your jig. Schnapper Point, Bird Rock, Mt Martha cliffs, Wooleys Reef and the boat moorings around Sorrento are all worth a try.

From the bank

Some great fishing is still to be had for those trying their luck from their favourite land-based spot. Mornington Pier has been very popular amongst anglers. There have been big schools of small barracouta keeping them busy.

Those enjoying most successful have been using unweighted baits of whitebait and bluebait in conjunction with a steady berley trail. Alternatively, small metal lures and soft plastics have also been effective, but don’t forget a little bit of heavy line or wire at the business end. These small ‘couta can be a pest, but are prime snapper bait, so now is a good time to stock up. Other locations worth a try are Seaford and Frankston piers.

I saw two anglers trying their luck at ‘surf’ fishing from Frankston Beach recently, near the pier during a strong westerly blow. After a little chuckle driving past them from the warmth of my car, I decided to take a closer look. I was very impressed with the brace of 2kg salmon they had landed on surf poppers and whitebait. They informed me that it was just too windy on the pier!

The Patto

Bait anglers in the Patterson River have been finding the bream hard going, especially for legal size fish. Baits of fresh shrimp and mussels have been catching the occasional nice fish, but most bream have other things on their mind at the moment.

Luckily, there are some small mullet in the system willing to take baits of dough, pipis and prawns. Big numbers of juvenile Australian salmon or ‘bay trout’ have also been about. These little guys are not terribly fussy, and are a great fish for the kids to catch. Just remember to adhere to the size and bag limits.

It might be cold and the sun may not be shining, but there are still plenty of fish to be caught in our Bay during winter. Just make sure you rug up and pack the thermos!

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