Port Phillip has really been providing a variety of fish for anglers recently. Pretty much every fish that one would want to catch in the bay can be caught right now. From pinkies, snapper, gars, salmon, kingfish, flathead and whiting the species choices are pretty widespread, it's just a matter of picking a fish and targeting it.

James from Unreel Fishing Charters reports of insane pinkie snapper action, with plenty of fish up to 2kg around the inshore reefs. During low light conditions these fish are going nuts, with multiple rods getting smashed on every bait that hits the water. The plastic fishing for these fish has been very good too, with all of the same areas like Black rock, Williamstown and Mornington all producing heaps of fish if you're fishing plastics.


Soft plastics in the 2 - 4'' size range have been the best of the pinkies, with 'stretchier' and tougher style plastics proving to be excellent value for money, with more than a dozen fish landed on a single plastic and no signs of damage. 'Bungee baits', Zman's and Squidgy 'Biotough' are all excellent options, just pick a natural and a bright colour to suit most conditions.


While fishing baits or scented plastics around the inshore reefs, fish like red mullet can be a common bycatch. Customers Ryan and Nick have been a heap amongst the pinkies, flathead and salmon along the eastern seaboard of the bay. Normally if you are over shallower heavy reef you will start catching the red mullet, and as you push deeper to where the reef steps down you will find less of these and more pinkie snapper.


There have also been some serious salmon in the bay for a while, with big schools spotted anywhere from Black Rock through to The Rip. Most of the fish have been around 1kg in size which makes them great fun on light spinning gear, or not bad on the table if they are looked after. Small metal lures up to 15g have been working well, along with tiny, whitebait imitation soft plastics. If you manage to get one of these lures to the bottom without a salmon intercepting it, there have been sand flathead to around 40cm keen on eating it.


Further north in the bay, there have been some decent bream mixed in with the schools of pinkies. While the pinkies have been much faster to get to the baits, the numbers of open water bream have been a surprise to a few anglers. The shallow sandflats around the top end of the bay have seen bream feeding around low light conditions where they have been taking baits and lures meant for flathead. This 43cm fish was caught by customer Michael, on a 4'' soft plastic aimed at a shallow water flathead at first light.

 


While most anglers would not assume that Autumn is 'snapper time' - from late February through to April the snapper fishing in Port Phillip bay can be very good. The best part about this 'late' season fishing is that normally there is not as much boat traffic, and the average size of the fish can be good. The area to be looking is 18 - 20m of water anywhere from around Mt Eliza through to the Mt Martha spoil grounds. First light seems to coincide with a consistent bite, and pilchard and squid the top baits.


James from Unreel Fishing Charters has been doing some hard work in looking around for these fish lately, and he has been putting customers on to some lovely fish. James said that the snapper fishing at the moment may be better than what it was back in November. The fish have averaged around 2 - 4kg and have been favouring pilchard at the moment.

 


There has been some good fishing for garfish this week, with most of the shallow inshore areas holding good numbers of fish. Many of the shallow sandy bays from the top end around St Kilda all the way down to Portsea have been producing fish, with fish varying from pencil sized right the way through to over 40cm. Most of the piers have been producing these tasty fish but the more popular areas have been Seaford, Frankston and Rye. Generally these piers over sandier ground seem to fish better, especially once you have gotten them berleyed up. The daylight hours have seen the gars biting best, but they can still be caught after dark if you have them berleyed up and hanging around as the sun goes down.


Customer Tas has been fishing in close out the front of Mordialloc to land some nice fish. Silverfish has been the best bait for him with some of the bigger gars eating full silverfish on size 10 hooks. 

 


While the squid reports haven't been out of this world, there have been enough anglers for anglers out fishing for them. There have been scores of small bait sized squid being caught around the harbour at Mornington, with the odd larger one caught from the wall at the start of the main pier around last light. Size 1.5 and 1.8 jigs are the go if you are fishing for the small squid, and a slower sinking size 3.0 like one from the 'clicks' range for the bigger squid off the main pier.

Customer Daniel fished out around Rye over the weekend to collect his bag of nice sized squid in the shallows. Daniel found that size 2.5 Yamashita jigs were the better performers on the day.


Customer Jinsu fished from the rocks around Mornington during the week to land a couple of nice squid on size 2.5 Shimano 'Keimura' jigs with the UV white/red head getting the job done just after first light. The squid continued to tick along until about 8:30am then slowed right off.


Staff member Dylan has been doing some land based squidding during the week around both the top and southern ends of Port Phillip, with mixed results. There have been enough squid around to catch a few, but they haven't been red hot. As always persistence and constantly trying different jig colours and sink speeds has been the key to cluing in to the bite. Around the southern end of the bay, the new Yamashita 'trick prawn' colour has been a day time standout, while the brighter colours like the 490 glow 'KRI' have been better from Black Rock through to Brighton.

 


The warm weather over the last week has seen plenty of anglers out fishing after dark, making the most of the mild nights. The squid fishing has been good around the many piers and rocks around both bays although no real monsters have been caught. Customers Jim and Harry fished with staff member George down at Flinders earlier this week where a few nice specimens were caught. They weren't monsters by Flinders standards but quality none the less. The boys also noticed lots of anglers targeting the horse mackerel around the pier with small baits under a float.


The best jig for the night was the slow-sinking Yamashita Q Live Search in pink. The tide was low at Flinders so the slow sink rate of this particular jig helped in staying in the 'hit zone' for longer, while also keeping above the leather-like weed and kelp that claims many jigs every day. These 'slow sink' jigs in 3.5 size are recommended for any shallow. heavily weeded bays like around the pier.


Over at Queenscliff customer Scott has been getting some nice squid. Scott came in store to top up his jig supplies, after losing some to the weed. Scott and mates have been getting most of their squid on a mixture of baited jigs and artificial jigs along the right hand side of the pier.


Small garfish suspended under a 'flasher' style float have been getting results, while the Yamashita Q Live 490 search jigs have also been working around the this area. The slow sinking models (blue eyes) have been good as the ground around Queenscliff is similar to Flinders and lacks the amount of tidal flow compared to places like Portsea or Sorrento.


Further back up Port Phillip, the small pier at Mornington has been producing loads of 'typical' sized squid. While there have been a few better sized squid coming from the cobblestone wall section of the main pier, they have been patchy in numbers. The small pier in front of the restaurants has been holding large numbers of these small squid, which have been a bit picky on jigs. Being so small, the most effective jig size on these are tiny little 1.5 - 2.0's, with natural baitfish patterns working when most others aren't. Start with a brighter colour to test the mood of the squid, as some nights they will hammer the brighter colours over the naturals. Staff members Dylan and Don have been at the pier catching these bait sized squid with the above mentioned jig sizes working best, and the odd one like this grabbing a size 2.5.

 


The last few weeks have seen some good garfish activity locally, with the piers producing a few for the anglers chasing them. There have been numbers to catch if you're fishing inshore in a boat or kayak, but most of the reports have been coming from the piers and rock groynes around the eastern side of the bay. Berley is a must when targeting these fish as without it you may only get 1 or 2, whereas the use of a fine mix berley trail can result in good bags of these tasty fish.

Customer Dragon fished Frankston pier earlier this week where he got a great bag of fish. Both silverfish and maggots worked equally well when fished on size 14 hooks.


Staff member Don has also been out on the gars as well with his family. Fishing from Frankston pier over the weekend, Don managed a nice feed of gars, with silverfish being the more productive bait. A fine grit berley mixture keep going helped keep the fish biting while there were people jumping off the pier and swimming around it.

 

 

While most people assume that shore based fishing isn't any good around the bays, there's been a lot of variety caught at the moment. There are many piers, rockwalls and beaches around both bays where you can catch some fish - the trick is to try and target a particular species. While this can sometimes be fruitless (that's why it's called fishing and not catching) you will generally do better if you set yourself up in search of a particular fish, instead of setting up for everything and most likely not catching much.


Around most of the piers in southern Port Phillip and Westernport there have been good numbers of yakkas. While they turn up and disappear pretty quickly, they should hang around for a while now as the reports have only recently hotted up. Portsea, Blairgowrie, Sorrento and Flinders are all worth a shot. Customer Angelo fished from Flinders pier during the week and while the squid were quiet for him, the mackerel made up for it. Small pieces of prawn fished on light gauge hooks off a paternoster rig were the go for him. Many anglers have also been catching good numbers of mackerel fishing under a float, as they tend to move about mid-water a lot. A fine grit, coarse-like berley mix is deadly when these fish are around, as it will keep the school actively feeding in your area. They can also be caught using small soft plastics fished on light weight and fine gauge jigheads.


While not normally known for whiting, fished from the shores of Port Phillip can produce some nice fish. Staff member Dylan has seen some good sized fish around Brighton and Black Rock during the week while swimming - with no one fishing for them. Fishing after dark around the top of the tide can be the most productive time, especially after a warm day. Customer Ange fished from the shore around Sandringham during the week where he caught some nice fish. Ange also found a patch of smaller pinkies, which came from a nearby reef to hammer his baits.

If you are chasing the whiting, try and target areas of sand with small patches of eelgrass or light reef nearby, and cast your baits around the edge of this structure, as the whiting will frequently patrol the edges looking for food. If it's pinkies your after, areas of heavier reef with broken sand patches are more productive, especially around last light. There are plenty of areas like around Brighton, Black Rock, Frankston and Mornington.


On the squid scene, things have been good. The warm afternoons have been good for squidding from the beaches and rocks, with Blairgowrie, Mornington and Mt Martha all producing. Customer Harry got out and fished from the beaches around Mt Martha and Mt Eliza, where he caught 8 nice squid using the Yakamito 'fluoro lemon' jig.


Around the same sort of ground off Mt Martha, customer Daniels and Jake fished in close to the shore in their kayak. A nice calm 5:30am start meant they caught prospect around the shallows without much chop and boat wake. The guys ended up with 9 squid in a few hours, on a variety of jigs in both size 2.5 and 3.0. Orange, green and purple colours worked on the day. Staff member Dylan fished in a similar area during the week to land 9 squid on size 2.5 Yamashita and Shimano jigs, with UV based blacks and pinks the standouts.

 


While normally slipping under the radar amongst all the other fishing to be done over the summer months, there have been some ripper gars about. While a lot of anglers overlook them as a target, the beauty of them is they can be caught land based or boat. Most of the shallow inshore areas of both bays and all of our other estuaries will hold gars, it's just a matter of getting numbers of them to hang around. A bit of berley normally gets them going and they are a brilliant eating fish to add to the day's bag.

Pier fishing for gars in the bay has been good around Brighton, Sandringham, Beaumaris, Frankston and Dromana, along with Stony point pier in Westernport. Gawaine Blake has been catching some real gars around Stony Point while out near the whiting grounds.


Don't be fooled, gars CAN be very tricky to catch consistently and the correct tackle and technique will soon separate the full buckets from the empty ones. Delicately balanced and weighted floats with mid length shank hooks are some of the tackle 'must-haves' but matching hook to bait selection and the correct consistency berley mixture is also vital. 


Customer Tim has been getting some good gars from Frankston pier recently. Tim used both maggots and silverfish in conjunction with his berley mix to secure a bag.


 

Amongst the holiday crowds, the piers dotted along the Mornington Peninsula have been producing squid for anglers fishing the correct methods. Depending on which pier you are fishing, this could be a size 3.0 fast sinking jig or a tiny slow sinking 1.8 in a natural baitfish pattern. Customer Dario has been catching some good numbers of squid from Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron, with sunset being the prime time. The most effective jigs for Dario lately have been size 2.5 Yamashita Live in natural pilchard and mackerel patterns (colours NAJK and NUMG).


Customer Rolly fished from Mornington pier during the week to land a few 'Mornington' sized squid. While the squid here and generally on the smaller side, there are good numbers that hang around the piers all night, to get your bag it's just a matter of changing jig colour and fall speed to see what pricks their interest. Adding specialized squid scents like 'Egimax' and 'Glowmax' can also change a timid look into much more interest.

 

The bay has gotten a fair bit quieter over the last month with many anglers turning their attention towards whiting and gummies over in the other bay, but there still have been some nice snapper caught by anglers putting in the hard yards. Traditionally the main run of fish quieten off around Christmas, as water temperatures push up towards their optimal spawning temp range. As almost a direct opposite of what happens early season, the top end of the bay slows off, and the fish that are still actively feeding can be found further south around Mornington and Mt Martha. Customer Mick got a ripper fish just recently fishing down south.


For the guys out there still wanting to tangle with a few - the ideal locations to be looking at the moment are from Mt Eliza through to the Mt Martha spoil ground, and deep. Most of the fish being caught are in 18 - 22m, as this screenshot from earlier this week shows. The area was deep off Mornington, with good congregations of fish still keen to take baits like silver whiting and squid.