Squid, Salmon and some Snapper
  |  First Published: May 2009

Very diverse and varied weather conditions have treated the anglers in the south of the bay over the past month. Perfect boating conditions and calm, clear days have often back-flipped into howling winds and some much needed rain. Still, as winter takes a hold in Victoria once again, there’s plenty on offer for anglers.

One weekend recently, I was driving down the esplanade in Mornington, not far from my house and witnessed some very hardcore surfers running down the road and down the track to the beach at Snapper Point! A quick u-turn for a closer look revealed some ripper waves pounding the shore below. Probably a dozen or so surfers were enjoying the waves in a location that was flat calm and littered with boats only 24 hours earlier. I suppose this is yet another example of how lucky we are to have such a great recreational resource on our doorstep and a reminder of nasty the conditions can be.

The rough weather that continued for a week or so provided some great fishing for land based anglers at various locations who were willing to brave the conditions. Big schools of Australian salmon and some decent sized snapper turned it on for the brave anglers in their search for food close to shore. Rugged up fisherman at Seaford, Frankston and Mornington Piers enjoyed some frantic sessions on hard fighting salmon, and I also had some reports of more salmon taken further south, although these fish were slightly smaller. Metal lures cast and retrieved and traditional surf fishing rigs and baits were most productive. Sport minded anglers also enjoyed some good action casting soft plastics in the mix.

The deeper marks out from Mornington down to Mount Martha are still producing the odd snapper for those who are putting in the time, but this action has slowed to a crawl. There’s no doubt that you can still catch quality snapper throughout the cooler months, but it is a very hit and miss affair. Bets bet for the hardcore snapper heads is to target the smaller schools of pinkie snapper along the inshore reefs, which is a great way to hone your lure fishing skills for next season.

The best option for anglers targeting the deeper marks, particularly further south in the bay, is the excellent gummy shark and whiting fishing that should continue right through winter. Both these species will respond to quality bait and good presentation, as well as time and preparation spent around your fishing trip and targeting the right locations. Deep channel edges and bottom contours are the target areas for gummies and whiting will respond well in shallower areas on the incoming tide. These areas are also very worthy of a few lobs with your favourite squid jig too; so don’t forget to pack the squid jigs.

At this point it is worth noting that it was brought to my attention after last months column that the Rye area is a known nursery area for female gummy sharks. If you encounter a pregnant shark, or you are at all unsure about the sex of your capture please take care to release these fish unharmed. These breeding females are the future of our great fishery and should be treated with great respect. And as always, stick to the bag limit and better still, only keep what you need.

The reports and captures of mulloway have slowed in the bay itself, but I have had a few reports of smaller school sized fish being taken in the Patterson River. I could rabbit on for hours about moon phases, bait selection and what coloured jocks to wear, but the bottom line for these predators is food. Schools of small salmon, mullet and other baitfish are all prime targets for mulloway when they are on the job. Obviously most anglers prefer live baits, but mulloway will also take fresh squid and pilchard baits, especially in deeper reefy areas where they are most commonly encountered in the bay. Anglers targeting them with hardbodied lures and soft plastics can also be effective at time, particularly on calm, clear nights.

The calmer days and nights are also a great time to target one of my favourite creatures in the bay, the southern calamari. I know I’ve said it before, but it astounds me just how many of these critters are in our bay. I’ve been doing very well lately using green, purple and brown jigs fished on light line in the clear water. I have also noticed that many of the land-based anglers are doing the same, changing from the sometimes more common ‘drop shotting’ technique using a paternoster rig.

As winter sets in, there are still plenty of options for the bays anglers. And with some healthy signs already on the surf beaches, we should be in for some ripper fishing ahead.

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