The cooler temperatures may have set in for another cold winter, but that hasn’t stopped the enthusiasm of some anglers in their search for quality fish.
The winter surf fishery is very successful and can be a lot of fun if you are willing to rug up and head to the nearest firing beach. The reports of late have been quite consistent.
Williamsons Beach has been the most popular with anglers catching plenty of fish in the 600g to 2kg bracket.
Other beaches like Kilcunda also proved to be worthy. Fish averaging 600g are also common but a few fish around 1.5kg are still taken. The surf fishing scene will continue on well into next month and if you haven’t hit the sand yet go now and as this is the prime time for thumping surf salmon.
Even with cooler air, those who braved the conditions locked horns with some pretty sensational fish.
I recently received a report from Daz, who was in search of a mulloway but instead was rewarded with a few gummies to 1.2m, a few elephants and a magnificent 4.5kg snapper. He also managed a seven-gill shark of 1.5m.
Corinella isn’t known for big gummies but is very consistent with table quality fish. Ashley Pratt realised this while searching for seven-gill sharks in the Mosquito Channel.
With baits down, Ashley managed two gummy sharks, one of which pulled the scales down to 6kg.
During the cooler months the whiting fishery usually begins to slow down, however this year it has continued on strongly. While the likes of Tortoise Head, The Middle Spit, Tankerton and Cowes have all been the pick of locations to fish, now is the time to look a little deeper for those larger fish.
Cat Bay and Flinders are well known for big winter whiting and it is these fish anglers should be searching for. The same techniques will apply to any whiting fishing but for winter whiting, look in the deeper water around 10m or so.
Winter whiting will still like pipis, but also prefer meatier baits like mussel, pilchard fillets and calamari strips; at this time of the year, fresh calamari stirps are dynamite.
Considering calamari are rife at the moment, catching one or two to use as fresh bait could be the difference between going home with a few whiting and not.
Anglers have found calamari in abundance, including Brendan Wing, who took his young son, Fi,n out. Fin and Brendan managed some great calamari more than 1.5kg while fishing along the Middle Spit.
Tyabb and Quail Banks are also popular locations for anglers searching for calamari. The trick up here is to set anchor, berley from the surface and fish silver whiting on squid prongs under floats. While the baits are waiting in the current, flicking artificial jigs about is also a very effective method.
Often calamari will mill around a bait before devouring it. A jig worked vigorously nearby will often entice a calamari before a bait does.
Though it was the well-known calamari locations that were heavily fished, others not so well known also produced some great size fish. The Eastern Entrance below the San Remo Bridge had a good run as Brant Kennedy and Ray Boulter found out.
The boys fished baits into a berley trail and managed their bag with the majority of calamari over 1.5kg. Other locations that were productive were Reef Island, Tankerton, Ventnor Beach and of course just outside the Stony Point Boat Ramp on a high tide.
This month surf fishing will dominate most of the action. Williamsons Beach near Wonthaggi is one of the deepest beaches along this stretch of coast and is known for harbouring larger fish. In saying that, don’t underestimate Cape Woolamai on Phillip Island. Both beaches fish very well on the high tide and first light is often when the larger fish are encountered.
Aside from surf fishing, inside Western Port, gummy sharks are a good option. At this time of year you have two options, one is to fish the run out tide in the upper channels of the Port while the other is in the Western Entrance.
Fishing the top end is very productive for table quality fish. Bouchier and Boultin channels fish very well during the run-out especially when using berley. During this time, the gummies are swimming off the banks and into the main arms of the channel.
When using berley, they will smell the trail and search out your baits. The only downfall to berleying in these locations is you will hook seven-gill sharks, swell or draft board sharks and plenty of stingrays. If you can deal with them then you have a good chance at hooks a gummy.
The Western Entrance however is known for bigger gummies. Breeding females up to 30kg enter to pup and it is these that many anglers catch and release. If you do fish for these bigger fish I strongly urge catch and release as these females sustain the fishery.
Known locations are Buoy 13, 16, 11 and 5 all having close steep banks in which gummies follow as they head up the Port. Fresh baits are the key and while there is an abundance of calamari around, you’d be mad not to spend an hour or so catching these before embarking on a gummy session for the day.
Winter on Western Port is a great time of year; sure it is cold but if you can brave the elements there is plenty of fishing opportunities that will keep you entertained.
And just remember, snapper season is only two months away.Reads: 2201