Darren is a local angler who lives, eats, works and breaths fishing in the Mornington area. Darren has a wealth of fishing knowledge with over 25 years of fishing knowledge and is often found fishing in his Stabicraft 1850 Supercab in Sothern Port Phillip Bay and Western Port. Chasing squid, gummy sharks, whiting and everything in between. Darren also works for PGF Tackle in Rye so make sure you drop in and say hello. 

Last Update 19/07/2022

The reports from the port have been dominated by squid. There are some monsters being caught, particularly from the piers at Flinders and Stony Point. Of course, the boaters have also been getting their fair share.

The usual haunts up the top end on Quail and Tyabb banks have seen good numbers being boated, with some very decent-sized ones amongst them. The tide changes have been the best times to target them, and there are a couple of ways to do it. The accepted method to get the bigger ones in Western Port, is the old school way of using a steel prong under a big polystyrene float, with a silver whiting, grass whiting, tommy ruff or even a King George whiting as bait. Anchoring up on a dropoff, and putting burley in the water is a really good method to catch these oversize squids, and is an alternative to what most people would do in Port Phillip bay, which is drifting with artificial jigs. Of course, your squid jigs will catch the calamari too, but it is an accepted method in Western Port and works well. Other areas that have, and will continue to produce good squid are all located along the western shoreline of the port. The dropoffs from the mudbanks at Crib Point, Hastings, Stony Point and Tankerton are all well-known and productive spots, as well down south, out from Balnarring, Merricks and Shoreham. And for your really big Western Port squid, a drift around West Head at Flinders, will more often than not produce that big plus 40cm hood. Directly opposite there, in Cat Bay, just before The Nobbies on Phillip Island, is another area that produces giant squid. Both drifting with jigs and using baited prongs work equally as well in this area.

The whiting are still around, but the closer you fish to the entrances of Western Port, the more likely you are to get a feed. You’ll notice that a few of the areas I talk about for squid and also areas to target whiting. And that’s because both the squid and whiting inhabit the same sort of terrain. Reefy, weedy bottom is what to look for, and Flinders, Cat Bay and McHaffie’s reef are all areas with that sort of terrain. To get onto the whiting in numbers, you’ll need to brave the cold dark mornings and nights. They can be very hard to get during the daylight hours in July.

The gummy shark reports have been non-existant, probably because not many people are out after them. They are most certainly still around, but you will need to head down towards the western entrance to seriously target them. Once again, Flinders is the place to look. Between West Head and Seal Rocks has acres of good ground to sit and target gummy’s on a tide change. Just check your weather and swell forecasts. You are basically fishing in the Bass Strait there, so it is ocean water you will be fishing.

Flinders pier dominates land-based reports in winter. It is wall-to-wall squid fisherman, all chasing those big old calamari. Once again, the prongs under the big foam floats are a common sight. The really serious fishos brave the cold nights, attaching chemical lights to their floats. There are also plenty of grass whiting, wrasse, leatherjackets and Red Mullet to catch on the bottom there, along with a few very large King George whiting. So, Flinders pier is most definitely worth a trip.

Stony Point pier is also a good winter fishing spot. Once again, big squid is the main target, along with salmon, trevally, snook and barracouta. Tide changes are the optimum time, with a high tide at sunrise or sunset being your #1 option.

For those lovers of Western Port’s fast-running, icy-cold water, here are my recommendations for the coming weeks:

SQUID – Quail Bank, Crib Point, Stony Point, Flinders, Cat Bay

  • 38 15 433 STH   145 16 583 EAST
  • 38 20 763 STH   145 13 271 EAST
  • 38 22 602 STH   145 13 678 EAST
  • 38 28 444 STH   145 01 946 EAST
  • 38 30 151 STH   145 08 015 EAST

 

WHITING – Stony point, McHaffies reef, Flinders.

  • 38 22 127 STH   145 13 388 EAST
  • 38 27 671 STH   145 09 810 EAST
  • 38 28 346 STH   145 02 028 EAST

 

LAND BASED

  • Flinders pier for squid, whiting, grass whiting.
  • Stony Point pier for squid, salmon and trevally.

 

 

Previous Report

The boat ramps have been much, much quieter down on Western Port, now that Winter has arrived in a big way. I fished it four times in the last two weeks of May, getting a nice fish three out of four trips. The day I didn’t get a fish was the day I fished daylight hours only, whilst the three times I got a fish, which were gummy’s and snapper, I fished tide changes right on sunset, which was when I got my fish. I had that one chance on each occasion, and nothing else the rest of the time. Luckily I knew it was prime time, so I was ready and made the most of my one chance.

Gummy sharks will be most people’s target species, along with squid, for the next couple of months on Western Port. They can still be caught in good numbers throughout the entire Port, but up the top end, and around Lang Lang, Corinella and Coronet Bay will see lots of smallish ones caught, whilst the bigger models will be caught down south, from Cowes, across to Point Leo, and down to the Western Entrance. So if you’re happy getting a good eating size gummy, say from 5 to 8kg, then fish those areas with numbers. But if you want that big girl of 15kg and above, then that Western channel and Western Entrance will be the go. I would encourage everyone to release the big females, whether they are carrying pups or not. These are the fish that will provide the gummy’s for the future. It’s so important to release those big female gummy sharks that are 16, 17, 18kg and above. They aren’t as good to eat anyway, so if you really want to catch a gummy to eat, head up the top end and get yourself a metre long gummy, which isn’t hard to do. Time your fishing so that you have a tide change on sunrise, sunset or just before or just after. Have fresh baits, and don’t expect the fish to scream off. Like most things in Winter, gummy’s can be a lot more finnicky and less aggressive than they are in summer.

Snapper are another fish that can be caught in June and July in Western Port. And they also can be very cautious with how they attack baits in Winter. They often bite like a flathead, and even a bit like a squid, with small pulsing bites. It is quite amazing to see this. Even more amazing is the size of the reds that bite like that. You are most unlikely to get one under 4kg. And most fish will be from 5 to 7kg. But, like gummy’s, you might get just one chance for the day. You need everything to be lined up. A rising, or steady high barometer reading is important, and fresh bait is much more important in Winter, than in October and November. And even then, you may still not get a hit for the day. I was talking to a staff member at a tackle shop recently, talking about winter snapper. His view was that if you get one fish every two trips on average, then you are having a good winter! So don’t expect fish to be committing suicide like they do in November. But it is a great challenge, and much more of an achievement to catch one in Winter. I had my one chance for the night when I was fishing the top northwest corner of Western Port a couple of weeks ago. I hadn’t had a touch for two hours, but with a high tide just after sunset, I thought I might be a sneaky chance of a gummy or snapper. And I did get that one chance, and a 4.5kg snapper came aboard. It was a very subtle hit on a fresh squid head. Once it was hooked, however, it took off and it was the same fight from a snapper I would catch at any other time of year. So I had my one chance and made it count. The same area also produced nice eating size gummy’s, again right on the tide change, or during the last hour of the tide. Again, both are right on sunset. Winter fishing for snapper, and gummy’s for that matter, is all about maximising your fishing potential by fishing when everything lines up.

Yours truly, with a 4.5kg Winter Western Port snapper

The big squid of Western Port are always fun, and there are good numbers of them in Western Port in Winter. Once again, the tide changes are the peak times, and fishing baits on steel prongs, under a big polystyrene float is a method used to catch them. Of course, you can still use jigs, but when I’m targeting big winter squid on Western Port, I’m anchoring on the dropoff from a bank, burleying….(yes, burleying for squid!)…….and putting a bait out like silver whiting, grass whiting, salmon, tommy ruff, mullet and even King George whiting. Squid love to prey on all of these fish, and it’s a bit of a thrill to see the big float suddenly vanish under the water, as a monster squid latches onto its prey and tries to get away. It’s a really fun way to catch squid.

The whiting in Western Port in winter are generally a bit of a challenge. However, down south is the place to target them, between Cowes and Seal Rocks on the Phillip Island side, and from Sandy Point to Flinders on the Mornington Peninsula side. I was walking on Merricks beach this morning, and a local had his 10 foot rods out, kicking back, relaxing. But he was relaxing because he’d already got a few nice fish that morning. There were half a dozen lovely whiting in his bucket, with the biggest going 45cm! And that was off the beach! So there most certainly are good whiting in Western Port in Winter. But stay south, and get yourself some fresh squid for bait, and you might get some monsters.

Another thing I like to do in Winter on the Port, is go out and specifically target bait fish like yakka’s, trevally, mullet, barracouta and salmon. These fish are around in good numbers in the winter months, and with the aid of a burley pot, can be brought in to the boat and caught easily. Salmon, trevally and yakka’s freeze really well too, and frozen baits will catch plenty of snapper and gummy’s later on in Spring, when having fresh baits isn’t as important as it is now. So I will be certainly be doing this over the next few weeks.

And apart from Merricks Beach for whiting, there are plenty of good fish to be caught land based in Western Port aswell. Big squid will be prize catches from the piers at Flinders and Stony Point, whilst salmon, ‘couta and trevally can be caught from the piers at Warneet and Hastings. The beaches at Balnarring and Somers will also be good for whiting and gummy sharks after dark, as will be the rock platform at Point Leo.

Recommendations for the coming weeks.

  • GUMMY SHARKS – Western Entrance, Pt. Leo, Balnarring, Eagle Rock, Joes Island, Lang Lang, Grantville.
  • WHITING – Cat Bay, Flinders, Shoreham. Merricks, Balnarring.
  • SQUID – Flinders, Cat Bay, Stony Point, Quail Bank
  • SNAPPER – Eagle Rock, East of Joes Island, Boultons channel
  • LAND BASED – Flinders pier for squid and whiting. Merricks Beach for whiting. Balnarring Beach for whiting and gummy’s after dark. Stony Point pier for big squid, salmon, mullet and trevally

That’s it for this month. Let’s hope we see the wind drop and see the sun come out. We always get a run of calm, sunny days in June and July, so hopefully, that’s soon. And we can go and thaw out on the water!

 

 

 

Previous Report

WESTERN PORT

Western Port has still been a very busy waterway, with plenty of anglers out chasing the late Autumn gummy’s, elephants, whiting and squid.

Big gummy sharks will be the focus of many anglers on Western Port now. May and June are times when serious gummy fisho rug up and head out just in the dark, in search of that big 15kg+ gumbo. Fresh bait is the key, with squid, pilchards, trevally, salmon, snook and barracouta all great choices. The western entrance is about the best place, but that’s not to say you won’t get them elsewhere in the port. The top of the North Arm around Crawfish and Eagle Rocks is one such area where big gummy’s can be caught at night, at this time of year, fishing the drop-offs from Tyabb and Quail banks. There are also plenty of smaller ones up the top end in the channels that empty into the main body of water. Boultons, Bouchiers, Lyalls, Cockayne’s and Tooradin channels all hold plenty of gummys in that 5 to 10kg range, with after-dark being the best time to chase them. Down further south, inside the middle bank fishing out from Balnarring, Point Leo and Shoreham is another great area to chase them, using your sounder to find the sand gutters between the weed beds. These gutters are where the gummy shark cruises along, looking for tasty morsels.

The Autumn snapper has been a little bit quiet the last few weeks, but with winter upon us, the winter snapper fishery will now take over. The top end of Western Port is the place to look for them. Joes Island, and the Bouchiers and Boulton’s channels are all good places to look for them. However, if you have never fished for winter snapper before, then be prepared to be very patient, and don’t expect the snapper to be screaming off with your bait. You might only get one chance all day, and the snapper in winter will most likely bite like a flathead, or even look like a pulse from a squid. As there is next to no competition from pinkies or other fish, the snapper doesn’t have to grab your bait and get out of dodge to make sure no other fish can steal his prey. He can take his time and really suss it out. So winter snapper fishing is very different to spring and early summer. Be patient, and stick it out for the whole tide. Don’t go traipsing all over Western Port. Sit it out and wait for your chance. Because if you do get a winter snapper, chances are it will be 5kg and above. Once again, fresh squid, ‘couta and salmon will be great baits, but the humble old pilchard is a great bait in the colder months. Always take some of those out with you.

Big squid is another winter attraction on Western Port. The whole western seaboard is squid city, with Quail bank, Tyabb bank, the tug channel behind Stony point pier, Stony point bank, Tankerton bank, and further south to Cat Bay and Flinders, all great areas to target big winter Western Port squid. The tide changes are the prime times, with the dead low the preferred tide. Fishing with floats, with a metal prong skewed through a silver whiting, grass whiting, King George whiting or tommy ruff is a great, fun way to target them too. And this method seems to account for a lot more of those famous giant Western Port squid than using jigs. Having said that, don’t hesitate to throw out jigs at the same time.

Winter whiting is much harder to come by, and during the daylight hours, can be very scarce. However, places like McHaffies reef, Hen and Chickens reef, Red Rocks, Cat Bay and Flinders are all places to target them. These are all close inshore reefs and bays that stretch from Cowes to the seal rocks at the western entrance, on the western shoreline of Phillip Island. Early morning starts are the go, but on strong tide days, it is possible to get a few during the hours of light. Burleying is essential, and when the tide slows down towards a change, make sure you drop back into the deeper water where the big channel whiting will be waiting.

The land-based fisho’s have been less numerous the last few weeks, but there are still a few getting out and trying their luck on the piers at Flinders, Stony point, Warneet and Corinella. And anglers willing to make the walkout to Stockyard point have been doing very well too. Nice gummy and elephant sharks have been caught from the beach there in the hours of darkness, and whilst the elephants will be harder to come by now, the gummy’s will still be there in numbers throughout the next few weeks.

Recommendations for the coming weeks.

  • GUMMY SHARKS – Western Entrance, Pt.Leo, Shoreham, Cowes, Eagle Rock, Crawfish rock.
  • WHITING – Flinders, Cat Bay, McHaffies reef, Red rocks, Dickies Bay San Remo.
  • SQUID – Quail Bank, Tyabb bank, Stony point bank, Cat Bay, Flinders
  • SNAPPER – Joes Island, Boultons and Bouchiers channels
  • LAND BASED – Stockyard point for gummys. Corinella pier for salmon, mullet and trevally. Warneet pier for squid, mullet and salmon. Stony point pier for squid, trevally and salmon and the barracouta should be in soon. Flinders pier for big squid and King George and Grass whiting

That’s all she wrote for this month. Get away from the heater and the tv and get out and chase the fish. Southern Port Phillip and Western Port can be winter wonderlands if you brave the cold mornings and nights, and put in the effort. Get your own bait, use it fresh, and you’ll be amazed what you’ll catch, whilst almost everyone else has put their boats, rods and tackle boxes away for the winter.

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