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Western Port has it all
  |  First Published: March 2017



I was in conversation with a friend not so long ago and the question was asked, why would you want to travel to another state to go fishing? A fair question. I actually didn’t have an answer to it, considering the last month or so we’ve had barramundi, Murray cod, southern bluefin tuna, kingfish, snapper, whiting, calamari, flathead, garfish, bream, perch, Australian bass, mako sharks, gummy sharks and this month should see the first signs of billfish caught.

However, aside from the kingfish, many of the other pelagics have been caught to the east and west of the state, but Western Port is still producing some cracking fish.

Snapper are hard to come by at the moment, however there are still plagues of pinkies spread over the reefs. Most of these are coming from the Western Entrance by those drifting with the tide. Paternoster rigs have been the undoing of them with strips of calamari the top baits.

The Western Entrance has also seen some impressive gummy sharks caught. Anglers fishing the lead up and just after the full moon have been landing gummies to well over 15kg. Shaun Furtiere has been dominating the scene catching and releasing some of the best quality gummies the Port has to offer with his clients.

There has been no shortage of them either. Despite being well spread throughout the Port, the Western Entrance is where Shaun has seen most of the activity.

There have also been reports that the whiting fishery has been one of the best recently, with both the quantity and quality of fish a huge improvement on previous years. Could this be a continuation of the netting ban in the Port? I hope so, and with fish like this being caught, it seems that we as recreational anglers are now reaping the rewards.

The most consistent whiting fishing has been in the southern section of the North Arm and Middle Spit, with Tankerton and the bank that runs from Stony Point to Hanns Inlet the pick of locations.

Fish over 40cm have been extremely common in these areas, as well as some crackers in the high 40s coming from Balnarring, Somers, Flinders and Cat Bay. These areas can be tough to get to and they are a big run from Stony Point, but if you have a smaller craft or fish out of a kayak, these locations are easy to access.

Whiting have also been in abundance around the Dickies Bay area and in Cleeland Bight. These locations fish best during the run-out tide when the fish begin to move off the shallows and drop into the main channel. Try fishing the last three hours of the ebb tide for best results. Bait selection hasn’t been too crucial either, however, mussels and pipis have been widely used and have produced the goods.

OFFSHORE

Fishing offshore in previous years has let a lot of anglers down, so much so that many I have spoken with have questioned why they bother heading out. So far this season, things have been a lot different with mako sharks aplenty, kingfish, flathead, snapper and a host of other critters caught in close along the coastline.

While you can’t pinpoint a drift line to guarantee a mako, from the reports I have heard, many have come from the 40-50m line from Cape Schanck to Flinders. There’s been one fish reported to 100kg, with a lot in the 30-40kg range. This has been the best offshore fishing in years for makos, and should still continue on for the rest of March.

On the bottom, there have been more than enough sand and tiger flathead for everyone. Anglers catching these tasty critters have been doing so with paternoster rigs while drifting for makos. At least if you miss a shot at a shark, you’ll still be going home with a good feed.

Fishing for flathead in open water is one of the simplest methods of fishing you can do, however, due to the depth, striking to set the hook rarely works. In this case, it is good practice to change your hooks over to 3/0 circle hooks. These will benefit hugely by keeping a nice cut of squid on the hook without the pickers being able to get it off, as well as allowing the fish to hooks themselves with little input by you.

Of all the offshore species though, kingies have been the most talked about, with some stonkers caught around the Cape Schanck area. There’s been one fish reported that went over the 20kg mark, which took a live squid trolled amongst the wash. Other fish have been smaller, but most have been in the 5-10kg range, but I don’t think there would be too many people complaining!

Tolling live baits along this stretch of coast has been the most effective technique for kingies, with squid the top bait as they are readily available on the run down the Western Entrance. If you do have time to stop and catch a few calamari, the most consistent locations have been Hen and Chickens Reef, in and around Cat Bay and Flinders. Larger size jigs in the 3.0 and 3.5 sizes have been working the best.

This month will see a lot of these species continue to chew, but towards the end of the month, the makos might begin to dissipate. The kings will continue to be prevalent right up until the end of April, so there is still plenty of time to hit them up yet.

Another top kingy spot is along the coast at Kilcunda. In good conditions, this area supports a very healthy population, however they tend to respond best to trolled hardbody lures. The reef travels right down the coast in 15-20m of water and tends to be almost a highway for them.

This area also produces some nice thresher sharks for those keen on setting anchor and a berley trail for the day. Small baits such as three pilchards ballooned on a size 10/0 Mustad Big Game hook is an effective technique.

Photo courtesy of Shaun Furtiere.

Photo courtesy of Shaun Furtiere.

Photo courtesy of Shaun Furtiere.

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