With Jim’s Bait and Tackle
FISHING Westernport Bay can be a very different experience to where you would normally fish and those coming from Port Phillip bay or those who normally fish in the rivers soon learn a few adjustments are needed.
The biggest challenge everybody faces when coming to Westernport is the current which throws up a whole other challenge for boaters, wind on tide!
It can be a very safe place to take a boat, despite the fear of running into the mud banks, but don’t underestimate what a change in wind or tide can do and how quickly it can go all wrong, offshore especially.
It’s a very simple process to stay safe. Ask a local – they can give you advice on where and when is the safest for the day’s weather. You will also need to learn wind and tide direction and once you master that, there aren’t too many days you can’t fish somewhere.
Offshore is a totally different situation and the experts that come in from outside the area telling us that they have fished along the east coast in big swell and strong wind very quickly come unstuck in nothing more than a slight breeze from the wrong direction. You would fit 10 of our swells into one of that from up the east coast where the swell is tall but equally as wide, our swell is very short and sharp. It’s a simple case of respect.
While talking respect we would like to thank all those going to the effort of wearing a mask while in the shop. Remember, it’s not our rules but current government regulations that you must wear a mask while indoors. We still have a few that have no respect for anybody but themselves and I guess you can’t and will never change that. As I explained to one person who, when asked about a mask said if he has to get a mask we will miss out on a sale, I would rather miss out on one sale than miss many over 14 days while I was closed and quarantining. To his credit he came back later with a mask on and spent his $9.50. Hopefully, this will all be over very soon, and we can get back to some normality but for now the local businesses are very much enjoying the influx of visitors this season.
There have been plenty of fish caught this week from all areas and from people with all levels of experience. We had some quality reports from the more experienced but then we had some reports equally as good from those who were just starting out and had caught their first ever fish.
Offshore is starting to fire up now the conditions have allowed all boats to be able to get out. Naturally with more people fishing there are more reports, especially from those fishing land based. There are a lot more reports from the boats as well but that is expected and the reports from the boats have been reasonably good all year.
Gummies this season have been excellent and there are going to be plenty of freezers with meals of flake in them. The reports have come from in the bay and offshore with as many being put back as being caught. The sizes have been good both in the bay and offshore with 10kg nothing too surprising this year.
There are lots of the usual pups around and it’s amazing how big a bait they are able to get their mouth around. Baits have varied and nothing is standing out or not working it would seem – if they are hungry and you are in the right spot, you have a good chance.
Offshore, we have had reports from the windmills and the western entrance while in the bay it has been the channel along French Island, Gardner’s to Elizabeth Island, smaller ones across the corals.
Whiting have played the usual “let’s go hide” when the boat traffic gets busy but come out to feed when it’s quiet. During the middle of the day, we did have a few whiting reports but almost all of them came from the deep water, and shallow water reports were more in the very early morning, late evening, or those days where it was a bit windy and the more experienced know where to fish. Anywhere you would expect to catch whiting in the shallows was the place to go with reports from all the usual spots.
Deep water whiting reports mostly came from around Rhyll in about 12m, if coming from Newhaven round the top light and head for the end of Tortoise Head until you are almost level with the Rhyll channel in about 12m. You will need to change up your rig and use a heavier sinker, also a slight bait change with a cocktail of squid, pilchard or pippies.
Not too many snapper in the bay but as many pinkies as you want – problem is 99 per cent of them are undersized. If you persevere you will come across some take-home fish but will go through plenty of bait on the way. If you wanted to chase a bigger snapper you will need to head offshore to some of the reefs where several were caught this week.
Offshore and I could fill the page with the reports this week, flathead, snapper, schoolies, gummies, tuna, kingfish and more. Flathead, and there are plenty there if you look around, but the size has been a little on the smaller side for the most part. We did see some very big ones, but they were few and far between with the average closer to mid-30cm. The reports came from almost all along that strip between 30m and 40m from Pyramid to the Windmills, short drifts until you find them then work that area. Plenty of other fish in the same areas, sand whiting, couta, salmon and mackerel, all bait for your next fishing trip.
We haven’t heard of many arrow squid as yet. If you want to try your hand at a 15kg plus gummy, head west towards the windmills, 30m of water and find the wrasse, gummies won’t be far away. We have seen several over the 15kg, some kept, some put back, both ways are within the rules and your choice. There will always be the argument of should you keep them at that size and if you purely look at it on keeping the best breeding stock in the water, then the answer is yes, keep the bigger ones over 15kg and put the 6kg to 10kg back.
Tuna and kingfish, it’s amazing how one or two fish become 100s and the fish are everywhere. Are they there – most definitely. Are 100s chasing them – it’s busier than Bourke Street. Is one in 20 boats catching them – close to, right? The problem is, of course, will you be the one in 20 next time? The other problem is everybody trying to work out why some are catching them and not others. The answer is relatively simple, they were luckier than you. We hear all the stories, you must have this lure, you must have a daisy chain or teaser and so on but for every must we have a story of the complete opposite. The fish are there, Cape Schanck to Cape Paterson, 20m to 50m seems to be the place and what you really need is time on the water.
Don’t expect that you are going to drive out and just scoop them up in a net, you need plenty of fuel and everything else to go your way. There is plenty that you can do to help your chances, correct lures in the correct places in the set, correct speed for the lures you are using and start with a mixture of colours. Keep an eye on your sounder, make sure it is tuned in correctly, track your runs on the GPS. It all looks the same when you are out there and put some time into bait balls when you find them, even if they may be on the way to your destination, never drive over fish heading to a spot because they may be the only ones you see for the day. had 14 tuna and eight kingfish reported for the week.