The cold and dull days of winter that seemed so far away for so long, especially over the past few months, have well and truly set in on the bay.
While many anglers are more focused on football and other local activities, and also other species farther afield at this time of year, there are still plenty of bread and butter fish to sink your teeth into. It may be cold, but we get some ripper conditions for fishing and boating at this time of year, so rug up and get out on the bay to have a crack.
While the winter months aren’t the traditional time for snapper in the bay, there are still plenty of resident fish to target for the dedicated few. At the risk of banging on about it again, good quality snapper can be caught right through the winter months if you know where to look.
It’s well known that good numbers of snapper move up into the Yarra River during the winter months to feed on the mud banks. In our part of PPB they tend to congregate around the southern shipping channel and the wide mud banks nearby. The western side of the shipping channel south of Safety Beach and Dorman seems to be a very productive area as well.
One of the other big draw cards of devoting time to the deeper mud banks and channels down south is the great fishing for gummy sharks in the same areas. Often snapper and gummies will be taken in these areas at the same stage of the tide, and they will also respond to the same baits.
Oily flesh and fillet baits are preferred by most anglers, especially fresh Australian salmon, slimy mackerel and yakkas. I reckon the snapper taste a whole lot better during the winter months – nearly as good as a fresh feed of flake! Be prepared to spend a bit of time on your sounder to locate the right areas. Be patient while fishing, as bite windows are often short and normally around a change of tide or light.
The shallower bays and inshore areas have been producing plenty of bread and butter action of late. Even though it probably won’t excite some anglers, some great flathead have been reported by anglers drifting through these areas with baits and lures, and also trolling small bibbed minnows as well.
Typically the size range is 30-50cm. While they might not be the world’s greatest sportsfish, they are fun to catch and make top class tucker. Nice garfish have also been reported in similar areas lately; they seem to be here one day and gone the next. They’re not in very big numbers.
Big schools of salmon are moving up and down the eastern shoreline at the moment and will continue to do so right through the winter months, especially with all the food on offer in the bay. Frankston, Mornington and Seaford piers, as well as the mouth of the Patterson River and Martha Cove are all great land-based spots, especially during rougher weather.
During the calmer days they can be effectively targeted from a drifting boat and they’re also fair game from the bays, beaches and shorelines, especially at first and last light. Canadian Bay and Daveys Bay have been producing some of the bigger salmon, while most of the schooling fish seem to be hanging around Mornington at the moment.
The squid fishing has been sensational over the past few months and doesn’t seem to be slowing down as the water temperature drops. Squid will often be less active during the cooler months and sit closer to the bottom. During a recent session we found them sitting in mid-water over a 5m reef and they were spread out like rabbits, so be prepared for anything and keep your eyes open!
Reports of whiting in the local areas have been very patchy of late. This also seems to be the trend further south at the moment as well. Traditionally the southern shallows are the place to go over the winter months, so expect this to change in the coming months, if last year’s winter whiting fishing is anything to go by.
Lastly the fishing in the Patterson Lakes system has been pretty good, especially after a good flush of recent rain, which always gives the food chain a good shot in the arm. Well presented plastics and hardbodied lures around boat hulls, pontoons and jetties are the choice of the boat and kayak anglers, and the bait fishers have been doing well using scrub worms, yabbies and local shrimp. There haven’t been many mulloway reports in recent weeks or estuary perch, but I reckon we’ll hear more in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for next month’s report for more.Reads: 3211