Chill out with great fishing
  |  First Published: May 2010

The steady winter pattern has set in over the past month, making fishing opportunities limited for many anglers.

Even though weather and fishing conditions are less than desirable, the fishing reports I have received over the past month have been very encouraging, especially from those anglers trying their luck from various land based and inshore locations.

Like me, many anglers enjoy fishing at this time of year as the bay undergoes a transition and the water temperature drops. For the most part, the water is clean and clear, and the food chain is in full swing. Many target species are in prime condition through the winter months too, so they are better on the table, and provide some great sport for us anglers.

Pinkie Snapper

Although snapper can be caught throughout most of the year, the spawning migration has long gone, and the most predictable sized fish are now pinkies on the inshore reefs. Local charter boats have had plenty of success recently, particularly wider out from Mornington and Mount Martha around the mussel farms out from Fishermans Beach. Prime baits are soft shell offerings like mussels and pipis, squid and fillet baits of tuna, pilchard and mackerel.

Pinkies are also great fun on light spin gear and will readily take soft plastic stick baits bounced over the shallow reefs. Over the past month, all the inshore reefs south from Frankston have been producing some great pinkies up to 2kg.

Another method that is well worth a try is to slow-troll bibbed lures over similar areas. This can be a very effective method, and is also a great way to locate other predatory fish as you cover the water.

Pinkies will strike oven quite large lures with surprising aggression; so don’t be afraid to try a few larger offerings to tempt a larger specimen. Areas to try are the Hospital Reef of Mount Eliza, Bird Rock at Mount Martha and the wreck areas out from Rosebud and Blairgowrie.

Sensational Squid

The sensational squid fishing over the past few months shows no sign of slowing down. If anything it has gotten even better as the water temperature has dropped in the south of the bay. Both boat and land-based anglers are getting amongst the ‘squid-mania’, and the size and quality of calamari this year has been very encouraging to say the least. Personally, I can’t recall such consistent squid fishing in recent years, and it is a real testament to the health and vitality of our great bay.

As always, natural colours are best, especially in clear water, with 2.5 sized jigs preferred by most anglers. Walk into any good tackle shop on the bay now, and you are likely to be greeted with a serious selection of quality jigs, and this is for a good reason – they work.

Japanese jigs have a much better finish, and more importantly perform much better under the water, so it pays to spend a little more on your jigs.

Boat-based anglers should concentrate their efforts between Frankston and Safety Beach. From the bank, give Mornington or Sorrento Pier’s a try.

Land-based Bonanza

If you don’t have a boat, now is the time to cash in on the bay, because land-based anglers will have the pick of the fishing opportunities over the next couple of months or so.

I have had several recent reports of some quality garfish being taken from Seaford and Mornington piers, especially during the cool and calm mornings. Berley is essential to keep these little scrappers around for longer, and fresh baits of silverfish, peeled prawn and flathead fillet is best.

Patterson River

The Patterson River mouth has also turned on some great salmon action recently, as the huge schools currently in the bay move up and down the eastern seaboard. These fish have also been visiting Mornington, Rosebud and Seaford piers, with some terrific bust ups and surface action.

At the moment, they seem to be hunting in shallow water, which is also making them a great target for kayak and small boat anglers. If you are chasing them from a larger boat, try to stay as far away from the school as possible to avoid sending them into deeper water.

Small metal profile lures and jig head weighted plastics are the best offerings to match the bait, and be prepared to pull some kinks out of your line, as these fish are great sport. Typically, most salmon have been around 1-1.5kg, but some 2-3kg fish are also about.

Recent rain has also improved the opportunities in the bay’s tributaries, especially the Patterson River which is producing mullet, salmon and bream. A great method after recent rain is to fish right at the top of the system where the fresh water flows under the freeway into the river. Baits of scrub worm, mussels and prawn are good, as well as vibe style lures and worm style soft plastics.

With such an array of fishing opportunities on offer, don’t hang up the boots just yet and wait for summer to roll back around. You just might be missing out on the best fishing of the year.

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