With Jim’s Bait and Tackle

THERE was a consistent flow of positive reports this week with just as many negative ones.

It didn’t matter where you were, it was just a simple as those who had a bit more luck found the hungry fish.

We had reports from both boat and land with salmon, snapper, whiting, gummies and calamari amongst them.

Not that the weather is doing any favours this week, but when it does settle for those who fish offshore, I would be throwing in the gummy gear and heading out to your favourite offshore gummy spot.

There is an influx of spider crabs out there at the moment and while it will make the flathead and others hard to find, it will be a bit of a smorgasbord for gummies and they will just be having a feast. Normally the crabs head into or around the entrance to Port Phillip Bay but maybe with lockdown they have decided to travel a little further to the waters off the Island.

The number of people fishing is well down on what you would expect for this time of the season, and the start of the holidays but there is nothing wrong with the quality of the fish being caught.

Snapper is the main target of most boats this time of the year and we had a few days this week that the weather was perfect; problem was they were during the week and only the lucky few were able to head out for a fish.

We always see the bigger snapper early and they become smaller and more of them as the season goes on.

So far this year it’s not much different in that we are seeing bigger snapper, a couple of 90cm-plus and half a dozen in the 80s but we have also seen plenty around the 30 to 40cm mark. The most difficult thing is working out where to go and chase them.

Reports this week came from Spit Point, Freeman’s, the Fingers, Elizabeth Island, The Corals deep and shallow, the shallows of the mud, Cleeland Bight and the deeper channels off Rhyll/Cowes.

So, where you go is anybody’s guess but expect and be prepared to move around, use your sounder, be patient and berley will definitely help.

Whiting have been ok, just a little harder to find and good numbers even more difficult with the size of them – the only thing making it worth chasing them.

The reports we received came from Cleeland Bight and Dickies Bay with very few making it to double figures but most finding at least a couple into the 40cm.

With no pippies yet and seem to be only a chance in the distant future, unless you want to pay $30kg, everybody is using alternative baits and having some success as they adjust the way they fish to suit some of the different baits.

Mussels are always a good alternative and have been used much longer than pippies. They can just be a little difficult to get good fresh ones at times and are very soft baits.

Squid strips are the most popular alternative we are finding, small matchstick size baits, scraped clean of skin, slightly tenderised and just hooked once to dangle about in the current.

Squid is by far the cheapest alternative, especially if you can catch your own, as you get a lot of baits from one 30cm hood.

Prepare them before you head out so you have plenty ready to go in case the bite is a quick one.

After squid and often used in conjunction is pilchard fillet with the trick here to use pilchards in your berley pot. Save your frames after filleting the pilchards or the pilchards from last trip out and mash them up in your berley pot because it makes excellent berley for all of your fishing.

Calamari reports will almost fit on one line with the odd reports from both the boats and land-based customers. No real reason, they are just a little quiet and plenty are reporting seeing them follow up their whiting they are catching. Bit more time and as some of their predators head out of the bay, they will come out of the weed to feed a bit more.

Gummies were very good this week also from those chasing snapper, not a bad by-catch with the “where” as confusing as the snapper.

Nothing too huge but quality 4 to 6kg sizes and almost all that reported catching them caught a couple. There are some good schools of salmon in the bay, mostly the channels so spend an extra 10 minutes and troll on your way to your fishing spot.

Salmon also makes excellent fresh baits and the carcass is also great in the berley pot. Nothing much yet on the mackerel or yakkas and still plenty of cod, rays and seven gills out in the bay.