February is a fantastic time to fish in the area. The crowds of the January holiday period begin to thin out and the weather starts to become more settled and predictable.
Good weather and flat seas will help the crays crawl, the inshore kingfish and the deeper water piscatorial targets to become accessible and even allow for offshore pelagic sharks to be targeted. At the time of writing, though, the early summer period is throwing up its typical mixed bag of weather. The odd magnificent day is being punctuated by longer periods of high winds and temperatures that seem more like early spring than summer. There have, however, been plenty of good captures when conditions suit.
Not all the state’s snapper have travelled to Port Phillip Bay and good captures have extended right along the Shipwreck Coast. Portland Breakwall continues to produce larger specimens while for those seeking more action at a reduced size, Lady Bay at Warrnambool, offshore from Killarney and Port Fairy and the North Shore at Portland are all producing good numbers of pinkies to around 50cm.
Fresh squid and cut fish baits are the reliable producers of snapper, but they can be taken on all manner of techniques. From ones that have hit trolled kingfish lures at North Shore, to soft plastic eating inshore pinkies, to larger snapper off Cape Nelson taking plastic lures on the second dropper of a standard bottom fishing rig, you never know when a snapper may turn up. Some larger snapper to 3kg are being taken further offshore along with some quality gummy sharks.
Make sure you check the conditions and thoroughly prepare for any extended journey offshore, particularly with our generous state government not having the funds to support the push for a rescue helicopter in the region. Mr Bracks is quite happy to take our angling and boat licence fees but he sure isn’t going to spend the money to come looking for us if trouble arises!
December/January also produced a number of mulloway captures in the Hopkins River with quality fish ranging 4-9kg being taken. A variety of methods produced the fish from traditional cut and livebait techniques, to soft plastics, as well as an 8kg mulloway that really thought it was a bream and ate a black river crab.
Plenty of quality bream over the 40cm mark have also been taken with most techniques producing fish. The estuaries along the coast will continue to be an option during February if offshore fishing is impossible. Very early starts or fishing into the evening are definitely important factors in not only estuary fishing, but close inshore fishing, at this time of year.
A 48cm pinky snapper taken on a 4” Fin-S Fish soft plastic and standard bream tackle.Reads: 550