Bass Strait has been the hit with anglers recently as the run of Winter weather we've had has been excellent, with conditions too good to not make the most if them. The variety and quality of fish caught offshore during Winter can be excellent with the real mainstay being the large gummy sharks. Anglers fishing right out wide from areas such as Lakes Entrance have been tangling with fish like swordfish, trumpeter and pink ling. Customer Filip fished out wide chasing swordfish last week and landed some nice ling as tasty by-catch.

A bit closer to home the offshore gummy fishing has been nothing short of excellent. Young gun Fisherman Mike went out on an offshore tuition chasing big gummies and nailed a ripper gummy at 22kg, fishing out from Flinders. Chunk baits of wrasse and pike are super effective on the offshore gummies, and are readily available on the reefy areas. 


Mike's gummy was bigger than him! Customer Andrew also got in to the offshore gummies during the recent spell of quality weather. Andrew managed a couple of nice fish around the 20kg mark fishing fresh baits alongside the reefy points and and sand drops just outside of the western entrance.  


There has also been a few quality snapper caught offshore while targeting gummies. Customer Zac fished with his dad outside the western entrance recently and they also landed a few nice gummies around the 14kg mark, along with a nice 4kg snapper. Fishing fresh baits of mackerel, pike and squid give you an excellent chance of the snapper as well as gummies. Young Jacob and dad Gavin fished around the western entrance recently and also came across a nice snapper. Jacob was lucky enough to land the fish that weighed 6.6kg and took a strip of freshly caught couta. 

 


Westernport has been providing plenty of options during some of our nice Winter days, with the cartilaginous fish one of them. If conditions allow, the offshore fishing for gummy and school sharks has been excellent, while the gummy fishing inside the port has been also. On top of that, there have still been quite a few elephants about if you're fishing between Lang Lang and Rhyll. 

Customer Thao got outside during the week and fished an area behind Phillip Island in search of a solid gummy and he wasn't disappointed, landing a nice fish upward of 15kg. Thao found a small patch of reef and berleyed just off it, and had the gummy take a chunk of silver trevally. Baits of wrasse and parrotfish are also excellent if caught from the area you're fishing. 


Inside the port customers Morgan and Trent had a day of ripper weather, but small boat issues so their fishing time was shortened. In that time they managed to load up on yakkas and salmon for bait out from Rhyll and once they got sorted it wasn't long before they had a couple of eating size gummies on deck. Fishing the run off drains nearby to Rhyll they managed gummies to around 7kg, which were perfect for a feed. 


Fishing a touch north around Corinella, customer Scott caught a few smaller sharks in one session. Scott was fishing one of the potholes in the main channel where he landed 3 small sevengill sharks which were released, and 7 elephant shark also. Baits of squid and pilchard worked well. The elephant fish took a bit to turn up this year in the port, but they are still about in reasonable numbers - especially over the mudflats south of Elizabeth Island. 

 

 


While the focus hasn't been on the gummies or snapper in particular in both bays - there have been a few caught, especially pinkies and snapper. The small pinkies from 20cm to 1.5kg or so are thick especially in Port Phillip, no matter which area you're fishing. While they can be frustrating - there have been plenty of better size fish amongst them. Staff member Dylan got out for a quick arvo fish recently and was kept busy on fish from 20cm to around 45cm on lures. 4'' jerkbait style plastics caught their share but 100 - 120mm hardbodies were the most effective once the wind got up. Trolling these lures around the isolated reef patches around Brighton resulted in more than 50 fish landed, and a handful of 500g kept for the pan.


The larger fish have also been found in the same areas in the top of the bay - but the real hot spot for the next little while is the Mt Eliza - Mt Martha region. Fish like these held by customer Sam from around Mt Eliza will be worth targeting the deeper we get into Autumn. Early morning bites from dawn to around 9am are the norm, with KGW heads deadly when fished on 'dangle' rigs over the boat's side.


Out in Western port there have been some nice snapper caught amongst the smaller pinkies. While the pinkies have been thick through the whiting grounds and grass beds, fishing the 'barren' mud and rubble beds has seen red to over 4kg landed. The main region producing the quality fish has been between Rhyll and Corinella. Customers Tony and Allan have caught fish in the area to nearly 6kg. There have also been quality fish on the reef just outside both entrances, with some super solid gummies providing some quality bycatch at the same time.


While most of the larger gummies have been coming from outside the port, there have been some big fish caught throughout the Western Entrance along the deeper ledges and channel scours. Fishing these areas during the latter part of the ebb tide or start of the flood is generally the more productive time. Customer Izzy has been landing gummies to around 15kg once the sun goes down, with baits of freshly caught yakka, slimey or trevally among the best.

For the land based anglers the weekend's calmer weather should make shore-bashing a bit more enjoyable. Customer Pete has just started chasing gummies from the shore and landed his first fish during the week. Pete was fishing from the shore at Grantville and after missing and losing a few fish he changed rigs and tactics and landed this one on a circle hook baited with fresh mackerel. Fishing water no more than 1m deep in this area is very effective - but it's all very tide dependent!

 


The summertime gummy fishing has been excellent in Westernport Bay. Many anglers have been making the most of the good fishing, with large gummies on offer around most parts of the port. Customer Zoran has caught a couple of nice sharks in the 12kg mark fishing the western entrance of the port. Chunk baits of freshly caught slimey mackerel and salmon have been the most productive.


Customer Justin has also been catching some solid gummies while out on the port. Justin had a session on the whiting lately and managed to collect some fresh bait in the form of trevally, so he sat for a gummy in the western channel. He landed a nice fish around the 13kg mark on fresh trevally. The last hour of the run out tide was the productive time for the gummy, with the fish coming from a secondary channel ledge.


Further back up the port customer George had a successful session out for gummies. George fished out from Rhyll and sat along a 10m ledge, and landed a nice gummy around 8kg. The successful bait was fresh squid head, fished on a circle hook paternoster rig. Customer Izzy has also been successfully landing some nice gummies fishing similar style 'reedy's rigs'. 6/0 circle hooks on these rigs have made for easy jaw hookups and easy to remove on smaller fish.


Up along the eastern side of the port there have been plenty of gummies between 65 - 90cm roaming around the feeder channels, and these have been plenty eager enough to scoff baits of banana prawn, squid or flesh baits. These fish are best targeted around the top of the tide, as they race up the channels and feed over the mudflats. As they race back off the flats they can be intersected along these same channel ledges. There have also been reports of some bronze whalers in the same area, with the hot 'zone' between Reef Island, Elizabeth Island and Spit Point. Customer Brendan fished from Tenby Point last week chasing gummies, and landed a small bronzie of a couple kilos.

 


The fishing in Westernport and it's offshore surrounds has been where many anglers are concentrating their efforts at the moment, with plenty of good fishing for bread and butter species like the humble gummy. If you can get offshore or towards the port's entrances the fish have been larger, with gummies under the 12kg mark usually uncommon. There have been some solid school shark floating about also, as customer Steve reports. Steve caught a nice schoolie recently while anchored up just outside the eastern entrance of the port. Fresh chunks of salmon and slimey were the most effective baits for him.


If you're after a table sized shark the port has been holding loads of gummies from small pups through to around 10kg. The top of the port around it's many feeder channels along with the Corinella mudflats has been producing many of these smaller sharks. Staff member Dylan fished some of the shallow mudflats recently in search of some table flake and in a short few hour session 4 were landed up to around 7kg. The last 90 minutes of the run in produced the results, with the fish coming from a small channel ledge in 2m of water. Banana prawn was the most effective bait when fished on the edge of the flats.


The rest of the port and especially the region pushing towards the waters of Bass Strait has been worth fishing for larger gummies. Amongst the large females a few smaller sharks normally make their presence felt. Customers Vito and Simon have both done well on lovely eating size gummies over the past weeks. Baits of fresh squid, trevally and wrasse have gotten the job done when pinned as hangbaits on single oversized circle hooks. The last bit of the run out tide or fish hour of the flood has been the best time to snare one of these fish pushing in.

 


The by catch  while fishing for both whiting and snapper in the port is enough in itself to keep many anglers content, with some being better eating that the main target themselves! Changing tactic slightly to target the fish like garfish or trevally while in the shallows can provide some fun, great bait and good fare on the table.


Customer Sam has been fishing with staff member Don out on the whiting and the silver trevally have been plentiful in between whiting bites. The trevally normally make their presence known during the slackest stage of the tides and respond very well to oily berley that has some sort of pilchard or baitfish in the mix. They are best caught using softer whiting rods and fine gauge hooks, as their soft mouths can have hooks easily torn out. Don and Sam have been finding plenty along the channel edges up the top end of the port.

The same areas have also been holding good sized garfish, and they have been coming up the berley trail and can be caught on small pieces of pipi under finely weighted floats. Some of the gars have been between 40 and 50cm.


The gummy fishing has been keeping anglers happy as many are caught as snapper by catch as much a target species. Fishing the run off channel edges especially over the mudbeds has been the best way of finding one for a feed. Some of the anglers from the Keysborough Angling Club have been catching gummies along the main channel edge out from Hastings, along with whiting salmon and mackerel.

Customers Graeme and Mick have also been catching some nice table sized sharks over on the Corals. The corals area is good foraging ground for both snapper and medium sized gummies, but also gets some solid school shark and bronze whalers over the warmer months of the year. Fresh chunk or strip baits are excellent ways to connect to one.


Some large female gummies have also been making their way into the port in preparation to pup. Customers Izzy and Bruno fished the western entrance and landed 2 big female gummies. Fishing 4/0 Reedy's Rigs with californian squid got the job done, and both were caught in around 30m of water on the tide change.


Not too far away the squid fishing has been good for the land based anglers. The extensive weed and reef from Balnarring to Flinders hold some large calamari and can be fished from the shore - you just need to select your jig sink rates accordingly. Customer Travis fished from the beach at Somers and landed a couple of nice big squid on size 3.5 jigs, with gold foils doing the best. Down at Flinders pier there have been a good number of squid caught during the day, with customer Angelo getting amongst them. Angelo caught 4 nice squid in his recent session, with a mixture of UV white, lumo glow and red foil jigs doing the damage.

 

 


Reports from Westernport have showed that all species are well and truly on offer at the moment. The next lull in weather should see plenty of anglers tangling with both snapper and whiting, with a few gummies thrown in to the mix also. The shallows of the top end have been producing plenty of small male gummies recently, with the average fish hovering around the 5kg mark. Customer Manny fished out from Warneet last week and landed a couple of nice table sized fish on 'reddy's rigz' with fresh chunk baits. Fishing run out tides along gutter and channel edge drops has been effective, while the top edge of the banks has been a good time to target these fish on a run in tide.


The snapper reports from the top end of the port have still been quite consistent, especially through the 'Lysaughts' area. The reefy bottom through this area has been holding good numbers of pinkies and school fish to around 4kg, with some larger fish coming from the shallower areas adjacent. Fishing depths of 12 - 16m has been a good way to maximise your chances for a red or two, with the larger fish frequenting the shallower 8 - 12m zones. Customer Mick was out on the port in the Tyabb region last week and landed a few nice snapper to 4kg in the area.


The whiting fishing is not to be missed in the port at the moment however.  While some of the whiting catches are holding school sized fish, there are excellent numbers around. The lower half of the port has been producing some solid fish for anglers persisting over reef and sand holes around Shoreham, with fish to nearly 50cm floating around. Squid strips and pilchard fillets have been working well on the larger fish. Up towards the top end of the port the fish have been more plentiful but slightly lacking in size - with plenty of small schooling fish around. Customer Tony and mate Shar fished the port last weekend and put together a nice bag of fish up to 42cm on a mixture of baits including pipi, mussel and squid. Fishing the bank edges in 4m of water was the hot zone for them.

 


While many anglers have had their sights set on snapper out in Westernport, there has been plenty of by-catch to actively target. The gummies have been fishing well whether you're out along the offshore ledges or fishing some of the deep channels or contours well inside the port. Customer Ben fished out along the western entrance in search of a big gummy and landed a monster female in the 30kg range. This fish had been offshore for some time as it's colouration is well suited for clear oceanic waters. Fresh cutlets of mackerel and salmon were excellent on the gummies for Ben.


Customer Bart has also been landing a few gummies, in amongst some other bycatch fishing out near Rhyll. Fishing were the eastern channels drop into some deeper water, most of Bart's gummies have been in the 5 - 8kg mark. Super pilchards and whiting heads have been very effective when fished on Reedy's rigs paternoster rigs. Fishing the shallower edges along where the channels drop Bart has landed a heap of pinkies and quality baits like salmon, yakkas, mackerel, pike and trevally. A bit of berley consisting of pellets and pilchard oil logs has really helped ramped up the bite with these species around the slacker stages of the tide.


While targeting snapper customers Daniel and Vito landed some nice table sized gummies. Fishing fresh squid and yakka chunks the gummies came along and provided some quality by-catch in between snapper bites along the north arm. Customer Edly also found some tasty bycatch while whiting fishing around the middle spit in the form of quality garfish. Edly found them hard to tempt and hook at first, but ramping up the berley mix and changing to smaller, narrow gaped hooks the bites were soon converted. A fine grain berley trail set up over the shallow banks is normally a good method of finding some of these tasty fish.


On the whiting front the fish have been fairly good for a few weeks. While many are sidetracked by the snapper the whiting fishing has been worth the effort. The top end of the port around the many channels has been producing whiting up to the low 40cm mark. The abundance of smaller school fish hasn't quite infiltrated the estuary as yet, but as the water warms these fish will fill the catches. Staff member Don and mate Sam fished out from Warneet over the weekend and found a good bag of fish to 41cm. Small strips of fresh squid and pipi made for the best baits when fished on smaller hooks than usual - as the bites were quite timid. Changing hook pattern to suit baits and fish activity is paramount to keeping on top of the bite at times.

 


If you're looking for a good quality gummy shark for the table and the weather plays ball - head offshore from the bays. The offshore gummy fishing has been excellent all winter and continues on, with the wind and swell the only real factors to consider. Heading out from either entrance in Westernport or from The Rip there is acres and acres of quality shark ground to drift or anchor near. If you're heading out from the eastern entrance like customer Steve did, you can head halfway towards Cape Paterson on the right conditions, and catch your bait and gummies out there. Steve fished a bit closer in around Cape Woolamai just recently, where he a couple of gummies to 12kg on baits of freshly caught wrasse and red mullet. Steve managed the fish in about 35m of water.


Out from the western entrance customers Benny and Damien have also been getting into the gummies. The boys fished out from the Seal Rock area in 40m of water and landed 3 nice fish between them. All 3 of the fish were around the 10kg mark and took baits of wrasse and pike caught from the area. There have also been a few snapper floating around these same reef areas as they make their migration into the bays.

 


While not everyone's game, there has been some excellent offshore fishing when a break in the weather opens up. There are numbers of snapper starting to move just offshore from the entrance to both bays, some excellent gummies on offer and still decent numbers of tuna along the West coast. James from Unreel Fishing Charters had a purple patch on the tuna along the West coast earlier this week, with 2 massive fish over the 100kg mark. James and his son both managed a 'barrel' each - with the monsters weighing 110kg and 140kg. There are still some serious inshore tuna out there to had when the wind and swell decide to calm down...


A little bit closer to home around the offshore reef the gummies have still been quality. Customers Johnny and Thao have been outside when conditions allow and have seen some serious gummies punching well above 15kg. There haven't been any 'hotspots' as the boys tried a new area recently and had results. Finding and plotting isolated patches of reef has been the key, with locally sourced baits also a key step. Catching wrasse and parrotfish from the reef is an excellent step in catching a solid sea-going gummy. Baits of squid are excellent for catching fresh bait, as are artificial offerings.


Small flutter-style jigs and soft plastics get eaten within metres of the reef by the wrasse species, but keeping them as  close to the bottom is key. Multi-coloured depth marked braid is excellent for doing this. Generally speaking, the most successful reef zones are outside the main entrance shelves, in the 25 - 30m depth or wider around 40 - 45m. At this depth there is plenty of bait and food for cruising gummies.