It’s fair to say the past month has been huge in the scheme of all things fishing. I have been astounded not just at the quantity of big fish caught, but also the quality.
This January has seen some classic catches, some as a by-catch and many as specific targets that rewarded anglers for enduring long hours on the water.
The snapper scene hit a brick wall after December, with many anglers switching to some of the Port’s other desirable species.
The snapper that have been caught have still been of substantial size. Andee Peters and his partner fished off Lysaughts in early January. They were fishing the run-in tide and managed a 6.5kg snapper. Following suit, Mick Sutton fished a similar area for two snapper of 4.2kg and 4.5kg. Mick caught his two fish on the change of tide.
Many anglers have also found success on gummy sharks, with some really good quality fish like the 17.5kg specimen Reece Cliff caught while fishing in 14m of water out from Lysaughts. This must have spurred on other anglers as plenty of gummies have been caught and released recently.
Ten-year-old Sean headed out with his dad off Cowes one evening. Fishing the top of the tide Sean fought and landed a magnificent 10kg gummy shark that took a tuna fillet.
A good friend of mine, Ilja, fished off Freemans Point near Corinella. He was in search of mulloway but had a gummy bait out just in case. A wise decision to put out an oily bait was rewarded with a 17kg fish while fishing in 10m of water. The gummy was released shortly afterwards.
I headed out with Gawaine, Troy, Fian and Mario. Troy managed a great fish of 14.7kg, while the rest of us caught King George whiting of 38-43cm.
A few nights later, Gawaine headed back out to the Western Entrance in search of more gummies. He did very well catching and releasing a gummy of 27kg.
During this time of year, with the higher water temperatures, the mulloway is not just highly-prized but also the most difficult species to catch. Many anglers put in ridiculous hours to try and get a glimpse of one, yet many go home empty-handed season after season.
For Ron Smith, his luck changed while fishing for school sharks around Corinella. Fishing in just 10m of water, Ron tossed out a variety of baits to entice a schoolie. All of a sudden one reel let fly with a high-pitched squeal. Soon after the 15 minute battle, Ron boated his first mulloway of 16.7kg. The fish took a yakka head on a Black Magic 8/0 KL circle hook.
Two weeks later after enduring some long hours, Gary Housley boated a magnificent mulloway of 20kg in the same area. His fish took a fresh calamari.
There were also a few unexpected catches such as a bronze whaler shark taken while whiting fishing in the Tooradin Channel. Mick kept getting bitten off while fishing in the shallows so tied on a wire trace, threaded on a squid strip and sent it down. After a long battle, he managed a 60kg bronzie.
Another rare catch was reported from Balnarring Beach where John Karakatsanis was targeting gummy shark s. John hooked up and managed to land a magnificent kingfish from the beach. The fish weighed 13kg and took a Snapper Snatcher laced with a salmon fillet bait.
There was a huge influx of big garfish this season. John Stuber spent quite a bit of time targeting them and always seemed to get a great bag. John and clients managed around 100 gars in one session, with many of the fish exceeding 40cm.
I also found garfish in good numbers along the Middle Spit, with the largest measuring 55cm from tip of beak to end of tail. At this size they are big enough to fillet.
Whiting have also been in abundance but spasmodic in their feeding patterns. One day you can catch them in numbers and then the next you can fish the entire Middle Spit for just two fish. The most prolific locations have been Quail and Tyabb banks, Tortoise Head, McHaffies Reef, Cat Bay and Flinders.
Just as I had predicted last month, the sharks have come on in a big way. Though they weren’t isolated to one location, you just had to have a good berley trail to be in with a chance.
Chris and Rob fished out from the Nobbies in 70m of water to catch a nice mako of 25kg.
In the same week, Glen Salter fished with his brother Brett. They were fishing in 40m of water off Kilcunda. After 10 minutes of setting the trail they had a shark on and successfully landed it. The fish was estimated at around 20kg.
Staff member of Tackle World Cranbourne, Aaron Sammut, fished with mate Gary Morgan out from Flinders. The boys began their drift in 70m of water before Aaron hooked into a mako on 10kg line. After the 30 minute battle Aaron boated his first mako of 53.9kg.
Many other anglers followed suit to get amongst the action, with Billy and Shane fishing out from Kilcunda in 57m of water. They landed a mako shark of 67.7kg on a Saltiga 6000 GT spin reel and matching rod.
Regular Tackle World Cranbourne customer, Colin Nickless, also fished the same area in 70m of water. Fishing alone, Colin managed a mako shark of an estimated 30kg.
It’s amazing just how good the fishery in the Port currently is. March should heat up even more, with more shark action, whiting, garfish, flathead, salmon, gummies and an old favourite, the elephant fish.
If you want to read about light tackle battles on these beauties, I suggest you grab a copy of the next edition the minute it hits the newsstand.Reads: 4053