Inshore reefs firing
  |  First Published: March 2005

An unusually wet early February slowed the fishing down for a little while, but it’s back to normal now in the south of the bay, as we’ve come to expect. Inshore reef areas continue to produce a variety of species, but there is still some good fishing to be had in deeper water for those who put in the hours.

Port Phillip’s whiting fishing is still red hot, as plenty of anglers will agree. Solid bags of 32-38cm fish are making up anglers’ bags, and rewarding early starts and the use of good, fresh bait. Consistent areas have been Wooley’s Reef, Sunnyside, Fisherman’s Beach and Bird Rock. As summer draws to an end the whiting will move further south, but should still be regularly taken through winter. Fresh pipis and mussels have been the most popular baits, as well as squid strips and bass yabbies. When fishing over areas of broken reef, a one or two hook paternoster rig is preferred, keeping baits off the bottom. Over less heavy ground try a running sinker rig and in both cases, use very little weight. Circle hook styles have been very successful, especially Owner #6 and Gamakatsu shiner #6.

Inshore reef areas in 3-6m of water are seeing a lot of action at the moment, and there is great variety in the fishing. Anglers drifting these areas, particularly with soft plastic lures, are picking up pinkies, red mullet, flathead and good numbers of pike. There’s always plenty of squid in these areas as well, so don’t forget the squid jigs. Trailing one of these behind the drifting boat is often successful. At present, these waters are littered with very small pinkies in the 10-15cm range. They can be a nuisance, especially for the bait fisherman, but they are a real indication of the health of the bay and the future of our snapper fishery. Take care to return these fish to the water and please observe the size and bag limits.

The wonderful Australian salmon continues to thrill the sports anglers around the bay, and have been popping up in the usual areas. We have not had as much surface feeding activity as yet, but keep your eyes peeled. Fish sizes are typically 1-2kg but some larger specimens have been reported, especially around Mornington. If I had to pick one lure for the job, it would be a 3” Berkley Power Bait, but metal lures in 20-30g sizes and small diving minnows will also catch fish. The kingfish will never be far away, so try live baits and big lures around the schools.

For those chasing bream, the Patterson River has been turning up some lovely fish, especially before the recent heavy rains. Bait fisherman are taking fish from 30-35cm and over, especially those using fresh or live baits. For the lure tossers, fishing from a boat through the maze of canals will produce a larger average fish, especially around piers, pylons and boat hulls, but they’re rarely easy to catch. 2” grubs, and 3” stick bait soft plastics are the winners; my favourites are 3” Berkley Gulp minnows in pumpkinseed colour and 2” Berkley bulky hawgs in camo colour.

Our great bay continues to turn it on as the seasons start to shift. For any further fishing information contact Billfisher Tackle on (03) 9783 9774.

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