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.

 


The top end of Westernport has been getting fished a bit over the last week by anglers in search of whiting, and the whiting fishing has been a bit sporadic in the shallows - but there have been some nice flathead caught as bycatch. Most of the flathead caught around the whiting grounds tend to be sand flathead, but sometimes you will find a patch of tasty rock flathead as well. Staff member Chris fished with mate Jay out near Yaringa where they did catch both King George whiting and rock flathead. The rock flathead were good size and took baits intended for the whiting over thick weed beds in 4m of water. The same ground also produced school sized whiting.


Just over at Warneet, customer Sam caught a nice bag of whiting earlier in the week. Sam fished in 7m of water and found the start of the incoming tide the most productive time. Fish to 44cm took a mixture of baits including pipi, squid and cuttlefish. The 6 - 12m area seems to have been the more productive depth for the whiting at the moment, with most anglers concentrating in this zone. 

 


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.

 

Whiting reports from Westernport this week have been a bit patchy, with quite a few anglers talking of hard fishing and sparse action. Many anglers who have been going out and 'staying put' in known areas have been struggling a bit, but the guys constantly moving about and trying different things are getting some nice fish. Fishing deep has been productive for anglers recently, with less fish coming aboard but much better quality in the fish that are. Just make sure you have suitable 'deep water' whiting rods, as many standard 'bank' whiting rods will be overloaded with the extra weight needed in the deeper water.

Customer Steve fished out from Warneet earlier this week and while the reports were grim, Steve and his mate managed 10 whiting between them - with only 2 fish measuring under 40cm. The boys worked hard and found the better fish a bit deeper in the 10m area, with the run out tide providing the action, and baits of pipi and mussel fishing the best for them.


Staff member Don fished around the top end as well over the weekend where him and mate Sam caught 17 fish. Fishing in around 5m of water, the bite started going as the run out tide started gaining momentum and the fish wouldn't look past a small pipi fished on a size 6 'worm. hook.

 


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.

 


There has been some quality fishing out around the entrances to both bays and in Bass Strait over the last week or so. Reports of acres of Bluefin tuna hanging around, kingfish in good numbers off the headlands and reasonable shark fishing as well. While the tuna have been getting caught, most anglers aren't keeping their eyes peeled for signs that these fish are about. Water temperature and colour changes, seabirds hovering or shimmering 'slicks' of baitfish can be enough of an indication that the larger predators are around, so it's not just a matter of throwing a lure out and driving around until you hook up. Smaller lures have been working better than larger offerings lately as well, as most of the baitfish in the area are small pilchards and whitebait.


Customer Justin got outside over the weekend and went around towards Cape Schank where he managed 2 nice kingies. Justin caught one of the fish on a fresh squid head near the bottom and the other on a 'Slither' jig in 165g.

Customer Marty has been catching both tuna and kings down at King Island recently. Marty has found casting to be the most productive method on both fish, with soft plastics like 'sluggos' working well rigged on a jighead, and small surface stickbaits like the nomad 'madscad' also doing the job. Natural, baitfish colours are tricking the fish when conidtions are calm.


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The natives have been fishing well over recent weeks, with many holidaying anglers getting amongst the Murray cod and yellowbelly, from Nagambie on the Goulburn right up to the Murray around Barmah. Young guns Jayden and Lester fished with their dad up at Bonnie Doon recently where they landed 5 nice chunky yellowbelly. The most productive method was fishing a small freshwater yabby on a paternoster rig, with 2/0 'shiner' style hook the best choice.


Customer Steve was fishing up around Eildon just recently where he landed this ripper Murray cod on an Icon spinnerbait. The cod measured 84cm and was in excellent condition.


Customer Andy has been up on Lake Mulwala again recently where he loves to target the cod. Andy has found the fishing a bit slower of late, with water traffic probably a bit factor. Andy has still been getting a few smaller cod like this one later during the day and into the evening on surface lures, with this purple 'cod cracker' one of his favourites.


Customer Steve has been fishing further along the Murray near Barmah, where the fishing has been patchy. Steve recently caught a few nice silver perch like this by bobbing live shrimp around the snags. Steve has been catching the shrimp in bait traps along the edges of the river, with gum leaves or aniseed scent attracting the shrimp in.


Customer Chris has recently come back from holidaying along the Goulburn River at Nagambie. Chris sent us these photos of his sons Flynn and Atticus both with their first ever Murray cod caught just downstream of Nagambie. Both the boys are well and truly hooked on fishing and are well aware of catch and 'live to fight another day' fishing.

 

Some of you may or may not have been to Hazelwood Pondage in South Gippsland over the last 12 months to try your luck on our very own 'Victorian Barra Fishery'. Things started of with a bang at the pondage and anglers were rapped on being able to successfully catch barramundi just over an hour from the city, but as we entered the cooler months of the year things started looking grim. Well fast forward to today, Victorian Fisheries have opened up an extended section of the pondage for land based fishing to all. Fisheries have confirmed that there still are barra in the pondage with fish OVER a metre in length, and that they have been somewhat confined to an area that was, until today off limits to any for of fishing.


This map from the Victorian Fisheries Authority shows the lake with restricted zones and permitted 'land based fishing zones' - with the newly opened zone in green at the top right of the map. While the access is still somewhat limited for anglers, this new section could be described as a bit of a 'hot spot' as testing has shown that the fish have been congregated in this area for some time.


If you are interested in having another shot at these fish pop into the store as the guys have been down and caught these 'vic barra' on both lure and fly and can pass on any handy tips and hot lures for the pondage, to give you a good shot at getting a fish for yourself.