The northern coastline of NSW is a popular destination for anglers as it is fairly quiet and holds a good mix of both southern and northern fish species. Popular fishing locations along this part of the coast include Brunswick Heads, Ballina, Yamba and Coffs Harbour. Customer Gary lives around Ballina and fishes the region a fair bit, and his latest beach session has seen him yield some massive tailor to 80cm. Gary has been fishing pilchard on ganged hook rigs early during the morning, with most of the fish coming while it's still dark.


Staff member Chris has just returned from a trip to Yamba, a tad south from Ballina. Chris did some fishing with his father but found the weather to hold them back a fair bit - with only 1 decent trip offshore. A good mixed bag of species were caught offshore with spotted mackerel, snapper, tuskfish, pearl perch, flathead and small whaler sharks making it to the boat. The humble pilchard did most of the damage with nearly all fish finding it heard to refuse.

 


Most anglers don't realize but the winter fishing for both pinkies and snapper can be excellent. While numbers of fish aren't as thick as say October, the rewards are certainly there for anglers braving the cold conditions. There have been fish scattered all over the bays bu the real hot spot for numbers of fish has been the top end of Port Phillip. The reefy areas from Black Rock further north right up into the Yarra and Maribyrnong rivers have been the better spots to focus on.  Most of the fish have been from 35 - 50cm but ththere have been much larger fish about.

Customer Maresi caught a ripper fish from Lagoon pier recently under the cover of darkness. Not much details are known about the capture but either way landing a big snapper sure beats staying at home!


The typical schooling size fish from the Docklands region have been on the chew lately, with both bait and lures getting bites. Productive baits have been pilchard and salmon fillets, fished on twin snelled 1/0 hooks. If you are able to cast baits like this unweighted you will be much more successful, as the fish will aggressively take the bait as it slowly wafts down. The same can be said with soft plastics - heavily weighted jigheads might gain extra casting distance but they all snag up much quicker and don't attract as many bites on 'the drop' like lighter weights do. Small 3 inch grub and paddletail style plastics are proving very effective at the moment, especially through the afternoon into night.


Customer Ryan has been catching plenty of fish in the 40cm size range from the Docklands and nearby piers, on both lure and bait. Ryan's more successful bait lately has been small strips and fillets of Australian salmon, which have also been plentiful.

Customer Jake has also been catching quite a few good sized pinkies while chasing bream in the metro rivers on lures. The lower sections of the Maribyrnong and Yarra have been holding good sized schools which have been responding well to worm style soft plastics. As these schools have been moving with the tide, having a depth sounder capable of locating them without too much fuss s the best way to maximize your fishing time.

 


Not that many people realize, but the snapper in the bay have been worth fishing for whether you're landbased or from the boat. Winter sees some snapper hang around, but many angler associate Spring with snapper fishing. At the moment there aren't as many fish about as in Spring, but they are generally good size and there to be caught in you're willing to target them. Many of the piers along the Eastern side of the bay have been worth a shot, with customer Kong claiming a nice 4kg fish for himself just a few nights ago from Mordi.


The piers with heavy reef nearby have been the go, as the fish will graze over the reef and onto the sand and mud nearby during rougher weather, especially during the night or low light periods. Piers worth a look at the moment have been; Mordialloc, Beaumaris, Black Rock, Brighton, Kerford Road and the multiple structures at Williamstown and right up into the Yarra itself. If boat fishing is more your thing, the extensive reef from Ricketts through to Brighton has been good, along with Victoria Harbour, or better known as 'Docklands'.


James from Unreel Fishing Charters has recently been having a ball on school sized snapper and pinkies from Black Rock all the way north to the docks. James has gotten stuck into the schools of fish that have been hanging about in the harbour, with fish to 4kg coming out. Baits of fresh squid or small pilchards have been excellent when fished on smaller 2/0 suicide style hooks and very little weight.

 


While the reports haven't been coming in thick and fast, the land based action at this time of year can be excellent. Depending what you want to catch and how far you wish to travel, there are normally plenty of options.

Down along the shores of Westernport customers Matt and Brendan have been having fun with some nice table sized gummies. The areas such as Stockyard point and Tenby point have been good as has the Somers region. Freshly caught salmon, pike, yakka or squid has been excellent, otherwise pillies and frozen squid or cuttlefish have also been doing well with fish averaging around 4kg. Tides will depend on location you choose, as you won't be able to access some areas on high tides, others you will want to fish as the tide reaches it's peak.


The surf beaches have started producing some numbers of salmon, with no huge schools present at the moment but as always the larger fish seem to come through before the smaller school fish do. Peninsula beaches such as Gunnamatta and St Andrews have had some solid fish to just shy of 2kg, with early morning or late afternoon high tides the hot times. Bluebait and squid have been the best baits, but there have been a good number of fish caught on unbaited 'flasher' style rigs and surf poppers. Remember whenever you fish the beaches these types of rigs will stand out to the fish much easier than a normal rig, and increase your chances of a bite.

Customers Mark and Darren fished the beach down towards Venus bay, which has been producing better numbers of smaller school fish. The guys fished beach no.5 where they caught salmon to just under a kilo, and a couple of flatties to around 35cm. The guys found that bluebait and pipi were the best baits, with a number of fish taking the red surf popper also.


The pinkies have been fishing very well from most of the shore based locations around Port Phillip bay recently. The many rock groynes and points, along with the piers have had schools of fish anywhere from 25cm through to around 3kg. Fishing first or last light is the prime time to catch a few, but right through the night they have also been fairly active. First light has seen some better sized fish come through, with customer Sergio catching some lovely fish to nearly 2kg during the morning.


Sergio has been fishing a few different locations around the top end of the bay, with nearly all of them producing fish. He has been finding pilchard or salted mackerel fillets to be the best baits lately, with pinkies, flathead and small gummies all taking the same baits.

 

 

 


The snapper have been going off in Port Phillip!

While there is normally a small run of fish during Autumn as they make their way out/move in to the bay, numbers of quality fish are excellent at the moment. Most of the hot fishing has been down along the peninsula from Mount Martha back to Frankston, but there are also patches of fish up the top end of the bay.


Bill from Mornington has been getting into some quality snapper around the area. Bill has been catching fish to 6kg from Mount Martha mussel farm back up to Mount Eliza, in water from 16m through to 20m. Fresh squid and pilchard have been the best baits, with early morning bite windows the best but not required as he has also been catching fish mid-late morning.


James from Unreel Fishing Charters has been making the most of these autumn snapper, with plenty of happy customers getting into some fish. The fish have been spread from around Mount Eliza up to Black Rock and Sandringham, in depths of 10m out to 16m. Midday bites and calm weather have been common this autumn.


You win some you lose some! James ended up losing a heap of line on a big snapper just this morning, with his Okuma Alaris looking worse for wear. Not long after a lovely snapper of 6.5kg was boated, with around some nice fish caught in 11m of water out from Brighton.


The numbers of school snapper or pinkies have been very good around the bay, especially up the top end from Brighton to Mordi. The reef complex along Black Rock has been holding large numbers of fish to 50cm, with the average size around 35cm. Customer Ange and mates fished in 7m of water straight out from 'The clock tower' to land a nice haul of table sized pinkies on fresh squid. Customer John also landed some nice pinkies to 45cm on pilchards in the same area in 7.5m of water recently.

 

Again this week there have been plenty of solid pinkies and larger snapper being caught out along the Mornington peninsula. The numbers of fish have been holding from Mornington down to Mt Martha spoil ground. Many of the fish have been 30 - 50cm with enough larger fish to 5kg in the mix to angler snapper angler happy. The more consistent producing baits have been pilchard and squid but enough fish have also taken fresh yakka, so it is worth having them on board also.


James Rogers from Unreel Fishing Charters has been putting customers onto number of pinkies and handfuls of larger fish, with the rougher southwest blows really bringing the larger fish onto the chew. The deeper water from 20 - 22m has been the area that most of the fish have been holding. James and his son have also been getting decent pinkies on soft plastics while at anchor, with 'nuclear chicken' and bright UV colours getting the fishes attention.


Customer Peter has also been experiencing good sessions on the pinkies down the bottom of the peninsula. Peter has been doing well on pinkies to 40cm in 10m of water along some of the southern channel drop offs. Pilchard has been the most effective bait for him, with some large squid coming up from the depths also. The squid have also turned into excellent bait for the pinkies when left to dangle enticingly from a small circle hook.

 


The snapper off Mornington and Mt Martha have still been around but there have not been many anglers targeting them. Good numbers of fish between 1 - 3kg have been schooled up in deeper water from 18m out to to 21m. First light has been the prime bite time for the larger fish to 5kg, with pilchard and squid rigged on twin 4/0's deadly. The smaller school pinkies have been suckers for half pilchards and small squid heads on single hooks.


James from Unreel Fishing Charters has been enjoying numbers of school sized fish with some happy customers. Plenty of good table sized pinkies for anglers to enjoy at the moment.

 


If you're a keen snapper angler and missed out a bit during the spring run, there has been a good bite from fish down south in the bay. Every year we see a fairly consistent bite during late summer through to mid autumn as our bay temperature starts to drop a bit. These fish are generally fairly concentrated out from Mornington through to Mt Martha spoil ground in 18 - 22m of water. While the fish aren't restricted to super early morning feeding patterns, the best bet is to get out before first light and sound fish and sit close to them.


James from Unreel Fishing Charters has been taking customers out on the snapper and pinkies over the last few weeks, and in his opinion the fishing has been better than back in November. James reports excellent numbers of fish from 35cm up to 2kg, and good amounts of fish in the 5kg range also. Gentleman's hours have been producing plenty of solid pinkies with squid, saury and pilchard all doing the job. The main consistent feature is that all of these fish have been out towards the spoil ground and channel, possibly looking to exit the bay once water temperatures drop low.


Plenty of happy anglers with abundant table sized pinkies out deep. This fishing should stay stable until about mid april.


 


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 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.