With COVID restrictions the fishing has been limited. I have fished in my kayak around Altona beach on several occasions. Those sessions can be seen on the FishingMad youtube channel. Launching from Millers road I have been heading to roughly 5 meters deep and moving around staring at the sounder looking for schools of pinkies. The water temp is still quite cool and finding the fish has been quite inconsistent. However, my 2 most recent sessions were very productive marking big schools of pinkies all over the place. Areas between 4 and 6 meters being very productive. I was just using a light Savage Gear 1DRF rod paired with a brand new SG6 reel which is yet to hit the market. Using 3-inch Zman slim swim in bad shad colour and 4-inch turtleback worms in camo accounted for many pinkies between 25 and 40cm. Working the plastic slow was key as the conditions are still sitting under 12 degrees and the bite is very timid
Well, it sure has been a challenging time for anglers around Melbourne and Victoria. The painful combination of COVID lockdowns and poor weather has made fishing extremely challenging. State Government rules in place as I write this article is that fishing is permitted as a form of exercise as long as it’s only for 2 hours, only with a maximum of one other person, within 5 kilometres of home and not at a busy facility like a pier or boat ramp. We also have curfews in place from 5 am to 9 pm daily. Regional Victoria is governed by the same rules that being said there are whispers that these rules will be lifted for regional next week. Let’s hope that’s the case as many of us are well and truly fed up with the state governments direction of simply locking up everyone.
The water temperature currently for Port Phillip Bay and Western Port are sitting around 11.5 degrees which means that this is usually one of the most challenging fishing calendar months of the year. You can still catch bread and butter species like pinkies, flathead and whiting but the catches are inconsistent and the bites are very timid. Patience is very much required right now but does stay positive as were mere months away from some warmer weather and the start of snapper season which should be very productive considering significantly less fishing pressure due to covid restrictions over the past 24 months.
I’ve already noticed that the outside temperature is already gradually rising and days getting longer, so it’s only a matter of time before the water temperature rises as well and we see fish in good numbers. We welcome Spring but in a short time, it’s still a good idea to focus some energies on targeting species like garfish, salmon, squid and gummy sharks.
This is a great time of year to target squid. They will come on strong particularly on days calm days with clear waters. You can still catch them in good numbers if you’re willing to put in some extra time on them. You will want to focus your energies on the start and end of tides.
Drifting has been the preferred technique and using the plotter to mark productive spots on your sounder when going over a patch is a technique that will help greatly. This allows you to continually re-drift over an area that’s productive, opposed to drifting in hope and luck. If your fishing high tidal areas that using an electric motor or even anchoring in a productive spot can help, but you will have the best results drifting if you can. This is also a time of year where you can catch good size squid in many areas around Port Phillip Bay and Western Port.
In Port Phillip Bay the usual areas are continuing to be very productive. This includes Point Cook outside of the marine park, Indented heads all the way through to St Leonard’s. The shallows between 2-5 meters deep have been very productive. Clifton spring directly out from the boat ramp and the right of the ramp in the shallow weedy areas are consistently producing squid. So is Sorrento and Rye from the shores all the way out to 6 meters deep. There are some great areas to drift around here from the markers near Blairgowrie all the way through to the south channel and mud island. Again, by drifting around these areas and using your sounder properly you can really hone in on spots that are producing. You can see some GPS suggestions on our GPS marks page for starting points.
“Did you know that squid, octopus, and cephalopods are colour blind? They only see shades of black and white, yet their pupils allow them to mimic different colours. Squid sure are fascinating creatures. This does pose the question thought is squid jigs in different colours are designed to lure the squid or lure the angler who is buying them. Let us know your thoughts here is an interesting topic”.
The garfish phenomenon this year gets better and better. In fact, I can’t remember a season where garfish have fished so well and so consistently. I have spent a lot of time targeting Gars around the greater Geelong area and had many bag out sessions using pencil floats, and maggots, silverfish, bread, dough and banana prawns as bait. St Helens continues to be one of the most productive spots as does areas near the Waterfront and the Grammar school. There are also masses of bay trout and mullet in these areas and I have seen several times in the last 2 months swarms of dolphins rounding them up and feasting.
The piers and jetties all around the Mornington peninsula area continue to fish very well garfish. Several members have reported regular bag out sessions at Frankston, Mordialloc, Beaumaris, Hampton Rocks, Blairgowrie Pier and Mornington Pier.
On the western side, we are also catching good volumes of garfish at Williamstown in the shallows opposite the footy ground and rock wall opposite the rotunda of the main beach.
There are some great how-to guides on how to catch garfish on our YouTube channel so do make sure you check those out.
This is prime time to be targeting gummy sharks in both Port Phillip Bay and Western Port. Gummies love the cold-water temperatures, and the volume of pest species tends to be lower during these times.
I have spent a lot of time in recent months running through gummy shark rigs and setups so do ensure you check out those videos on the YouTube channel or PM me if you have any questions. The most productive baits have included salmon chunks and mackerel. We haven’t had quite as much luck with squid and pilchards.
We also found areas with a good volume of tidal flow and gutters are consistently the most productive. This is where an Ezi rig setup, strong line and shock leaders can play a big role in catching consistency. It also allows you to quickly change sinkers depending on the strength of the current and the time of the tide.
Areas that will fish well include South Channel, Portarlington, Swan Island, St Leonards, West Channel and Mud island. Around Western Port, shark fishing is in its own and undoubtedly irresistible. Areas consistently producing a good volume of gummies include Grantville, Tooradin, Stoney Point and Somers.
Land-based anglers are also certainly catching their fair share of gumbos from Land Lang, Corinella, Tenby Point, Balnarring rocks and Stockyards.
You will also catch a few decent 7-gill sharks at this time of year which can also be a lot of fun to catch.
Whiting fishing has been very inconsistent that’s for sure, that is very typical of the winter period. I have historically fished areas around Wedge Spit, Corio Bay, Sy Leonards and Clifton Springs and always found the bite very slow and inconsistent during August.
The good news again is that things from here will slowly improve. We have found that the whiting sessions have been better on days with poor water clarity so days after high winds or high swells should produce the goods as the water temperature rises.
In terms of setup, it’s difficult to go past a light 2-4 kilo rod and 2500 size reel and light line. I generally make my own whiting rigs which will consist of either a paternoster rig, single hook rig or running sinker rig. They all work in their own right and sometimes using one or two baits has advantages over different days and conditions.
Areas locally around Werribee is fishing quite poor so we would recommend concentrating your time on whiting fishing around Corio Bay, St Leonards and Clifton Springs.
PINKIES / SNAPPER
It’s still a bit too early on in the season to be seeing snapper in our bays just yet. There are some early season reds being caught in Western Port around Eagle Rock and Bagge Harbour.
Plenty of pinkies are still being caught in the shallows all along the Mornington peninsula and around Williamstown opposite the footy ground in the shallow reefs. I have found the catches of pinkies in my kayak around Altona to be very hit and miss. One day they are schooling up in big numbers in the shallows between the 4 and 6-meter mark and eagerly taking soft plastics and the next day nowhere to be seen. This is expecting at this time of the year as water temperatures still hover under 12 degrees. Fishing for Pinkies will only get better and better as we head into spring so some patience is required for now.
Mulloway continues to fish well in stretches along the Yarra River. With catches from our members noted in Richmond opposite the botanic gardens, near the Richmond rowing club and opposite the warmies. Live mullet and bay trout as well as large strips of squid continue to be excellent choices. You can also target these elusive fish using 4 inch and 5-inch soft plastics but do be prepared to put in many hours as only the truly dedicated will be rewarded. We have also noted some decent Mulloway being caught along the Barwon river entrance and further upstream in Lake Connewarre.
Flathead will be caught all around the bay, but the numbers will be quite low to what we usually expect. Inshore many of the flathead have moved away from the shallow waters because of the cold-water temperature and will seek deeper water to reside. We have been catching our fair share in water depths between 8 and 12 meters deep. Drifting around with a paternoster rig and some chunks of pilchard or squid tentacles is usually our favourite method as well as flicking 2.5 to 4-inch soft plastics with a 1/6 jig head. The old Berkley turtleback worm continues to be a favourite choice of ours.
This is a great time of year to be targeting bream. Spawning periods are just starting, and this is when we see some decent size bream. With the colder temperatures, we will find that bream have moved off the edges and are seeking shelter in deeper waters. So, this is a great time for land-based exploring or fishing from a kayak, casting into open waters with soft plastics, hard body lures, cranks and blades. Also, don’t be afraid to give the trusty cranka crab a go, these are wonderful options that are extremely successful once you get the hang of the technique. Concentrating your time on structures such as bridge pylons and jetties should see you land a few bream, just remember to work the crabs very slowly.
We tend to resort to a slower retrieve during this time of year. All around the bream are fishing quite well. Close to Melbourne, the Maribyrnong river around Essendon and the Yarra River around Richmond are producing good volumes of bream and decent sized ones. Moving towards the east excellent options include Patterson lakes and if you are lucky enough there are so many good options around the greater East Gippsland area.
There have been some very cool new bream lures introduced onto the market this past month, so that will give me a great excuse to go down to some of the local waters and target some bream. Particularly looking forward to getting my hands on a few of the new smaller size double clutches and tournament spikes.
During Covid, we have seen a massive increase in local Carp fishing. Local anglers getting creative and staying within their 5-kilometre zones has seen a lot of urban lakes hardly fished now having some serious fishing pressure. I too have found myself doing this. Lakes that I have walked around for many years and never thought to fish have surprisingly produced a lot of carp and excitement during the lockdown. Areas that are fishing well for carp include Albert Park Lake, Werribee River, Barwon River and Lake Burumbeet.
Many of our family-friendly lakes received a top-up of stocked trout as part of the state government target of 10 million by 2022. Use this link to see the latest stocking locations See Waters Last Stocking Map – VFA. If you are new to fishing or have a few kids that you are keen to get onto some fish then these stocked trout locations are the perfect opportunity to catch a few rainbow trout.
Pyke’s creek has been fishing well for trout in recent times. Either by land casting shallow diving hard body lures or via a small boat trolling slow diving lures at a slow pace.
Until next time good fishing everyone. Please let us know if you would like any further details added to these reports. Also, make sure you share your catches with us by sending through some photos and details to email@example.com this will also put you into the run of going into our Catch of the Month honours board voted on by other members.