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Elephants, whiting and tuna
  |  First Published: February 2010



You often hear stories about global warming and its impact on fish and fishing.

I haven’t thought too much about it but when weird fishing reports come in, it really makes you take a back step and wonder: are things in our southern oceans changing?

I’m not one to really dwell on these theories but one thing’s for sure, when you have cobia caught in Western Port in 2007, a striped marlin washing onto the beach at Woodside in February 2008 and now striped tuna in massive schools in Bass Strait, you really have to wonder.

This first reports I received were from the Port Phillip side around Barwon Heads. The tuna have been thick and it wasn’t until the following day after my initial reports that Simon Rinaldi from Red Hot Fishing Charters called me in excitement as tuna were busting up around his boat while mako shark fishing.

The following week and Gawaine Blake from Think Big Fishing Charters headed offshore on his day off to go in search of sharks with a few mates. The sharks didn’t turn up but Gawaine said the striped tuna were sensational.

Although I d love to say the tuna will hang around for a little while, this is just one fish you can’t predict. However, If I had to put money on it, I’d be saying their next showing this month should be somewhere around the bottom of Wilsons Promontory or Lakes Entrance.

Whiting

There has been plenty happening in the Port of late with most anglers concentrating on the huge schools of whiting found on the usual haunts. The middle spit has been one of the most fished locations and has been delivering the goods. Most anglers have had to work hard, especially on the lead up to the full moon.

Since its passing the whiting have come on thicker and stronger. John headed out managing a nice bag of fish ranging 30-38cm during the high tide. On this occasion both pipi and mussels worked well.

When working the spit, it will pay to move when you notice the fishing is slowing. Although this could be due to a number of factors, pulling the anchor and moving 20m or so can bring the fish back on. Most of the time, you have either spooked the fish or they have just moved off, so moving yourself is a good way to find the school again.

Most of the fishing along the middle spit is undertaken in 2-3m of water along the edge of the weed beds, a top location is on the Eastern Channel side where the fish tend to be in larger numbers.

The whiting will continue on for quite some time, so don’t think about packing up on them just yet, as we have the winter whiting to look forward to as well.

Mulloway

One of the biggest and hottest topics inside Western Port has been mulloway. Although these elusive fish keep the keenest keen, they are very frustrating. Cranbourne Tackle World staff member Mark Keaveny had spent countless hours of the past seven years to catch one. Finally he boated a magnificent 9kg mulloway at Corinella.

Still more mulloway have been caught. Gawaine Blake from Think Big Charters did very well with his clients. Altogether Gawaine and clients boated an 11kg and 9kg mulloway amongst plenty of gummy shark up to 12kg.

Gummy sharks

Although the gummies haven’t been thick like previous years, they are still about if you’re willing to put in the time. Most success has been coming from the top of the Port if you’re after run of the mill fish. Most of the gummies caught in the top end range from legal size to 8kg. These are perfect for the table and are in abundance in the channels.

A good technique is to anchor on the edge of a channel during the slack water on the top of the high tide, set a berley trail and fish the run-out tide with a selection of good baits, such as cured eel, calamari strips and heads and salmon fillet.

It wouldn’t surprise me if you caught a good size snapper at this time of year also. We are expecting another run of reds, and doing this may well bring one to your offerings.

If it is the larger model gummies you’re after, the western entrance is the place to be. With the large schools of salmon busting the surface from Cowes Pier right down to Buoy 5, a quick tolling session will give you ample bait for a six hour gummy session.

As with fishing in the top end, anchor on the edge of the channel and fish your baits back. As we begin to change over to some cooler water you will notice a few more banjo sharks coming onboard and more seven-gill sharks, which some don’t mind. At the end of the day, if you not catching these, you’re no chance at a gummy shark.

Elephants

Elephants have arrived. For some it’s a blessing, while for others they are silver carp. I am a fan of elephants, not for the table but for ultra light tackle sport.

The best locations are definitely the entrance in Gardners Channel adjacent to the Tortoise Head Bank and the elephant triangle.

The best technique is to set anchor, use a berley pot loaded with pellets and tuna oil. A running sinker rig with size 3/0 KL Black Magic hook is my recommendation. The KL 3/0 hook is an ideal size to fit in an elephant’s mouth without having the ability to gut hook the fish. Considering the bag limit is one per person, there will be a lot of fish caught and released. Using a circle hook like the KL 3/0 will allow a mouth hook- up rather than a throat hook-up requiring unnecessary surgery.

For the rest of the month, elephants will be sure to snaffle any baits found. Elephants should continue right up until the end of May, which is when they exit the Port for another year.

Salmon

The hoards of Australian salmon that are around busting baitfish will be a lot of fun. These guys will provide plenty of light tackle excitement for the next few weeks before heading into the offshore water taking refuge under the white foam of the surf beaches for land-based anglers to enjoy.

For those land-based fishos keen on catching something decent from the sand, the next few weeks will be the perfect opportunity to catch an elephant. Stockyard Point will be the most consistent location. You will require a surf rod with a running sinker rig preferred. Use a 3/0 KL hook and thread on a half pilchard then wrap it with Bait Mate elastic to keep it on the hook.

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