Well, winter has certainly arrived. The calm foggy mornings we were enjoying for the early part of last month have gone for now, and have been replaced with real winter days. Wind, rain and cold weather has been the order of the day. This has given the bay a good old stir up! The fishing is still productive though, for those who are willing to brave the conditions. Some great bags of quality table fish are still on offer for southern fishos.
The pier anglers have enjoyed the change in weather, as some of the predatory fish have come in close to feed. Some lovely Australian salmon to 1.5kg have been reported from Seaford, Frankston and Mornington piers. These fish are being taken on paternoster rigs with whole whitebait and bluebait, and 25-35g metal slugs retrieved fast across the surface. The prime time is dusk and dawn, especially during strong onshore winds.
The jetties further south are still thick with barracouta, some attaining a respectable size. Unweighted whole pilchard baits and lures are doing the damage, but don’t forget the wire. Small schools of jumbo-sized salmon have also been visiting Sorrento pier at the top of the tide, and have taken a liking to small surface poppers and soft plastics. These fish have been between 2kg and 3kg and have been quite a handful for some local lure chuckers!
Squid still remains high on the list for many of the bays anglers, and no wonder! Good bags are on offer from all of the usual spots, especially in water about 3-5m deep, and from the usual piers. Good quality Japanese jigs are the way to go, and will always catch more tasty calamari than cheap replicas. It always amazes me just how many squid get caught every year, and they still keep coming back to our southern reefs. This is no doubt an indication of the health of the bay. Let’s hope it stays that way. As always, it is vitally important that all anglers observe the squid bag limit of 10 per day, so that we can enjoy the fruits of the bay for many years to come.
Sportfishing action is usually pretty hard to come by at this time of year, but luckily some local schools of small Australian salmon are still willing to take plastics and lures around Frankston and Mornington. They can be a little hard to find, but trolling likely areas is a good place to start. Use a spread of lures that dive to different depths, and once the school is located, stop and cast into it. This prevents you from spooking the school with the boat and keeps the fish feeding for longer. Minnow lures in the 5-12cm size range are best for trolling. Cast lures should be 2-3” soft plastics or 20-30g metal lures.
For the soft plastic nuts, there are still plenty of pinkies on the shallow reefs, although most are very small. First and last light should turn up some better fish, especially on the right tides. 2 and 3inch Berkley Gulps have been a real winner lately, especially the 3-inch Minnow variety. I am constantly amazed with what eats a soft plastic in the bay, but on my last trip out off Mornington recently, the bay really turned it on. In a hectic 2-hour session using 3-inch Gulps in chartreuse/pearl, my companion and I landed at least 40 small pinkies and flathead. As well as this was a dozen large red mullet, two squid, a southern cardinal fish and about 5kg of banjo shark! A pretty frantic session indeed!
As the cold weather sets in, don’t pack up the gear. Plenty of options are still available for us southern fishos, if you can brave the weather. If you live in the Mornington Peninsula Shire, don’t forget to support the mandate against dredging the bay. The proposal cannot go ahead. It will have irreversible effects on our reefs and beaches. You’ll find it at various local businesses. Good fishing!
Josh with his ‘Gulp munching’ banjo shark.Reads: 542