Mornington and Mount Martha are popular with anglers. Whiting, Squid, Flathead and Pike are caught all year round. Snapper, Sharks, Garfish and Salmon are abundant in the warmer months. Land based anglers are well catered for in this area with Mornington Pier and many rocky platforms providing consistent catches of Squid, Whiting, Snapper, Salmon, Flathead and Barracouta.
Off Safety Beach there is an extensive system of grass beds and reef that is home to Squid and Whiting. This area is easily located by launching your boat at Safety Beach and motoring out to the local mussel farm. Both inside and outside the Mussel Farm are productive.
The deep water off Portsea is home to Flathead, Snapper and sharks.
The Grass beds and reefs of Sorrento and Blairgowrie are famous for their whiting and squid. Out in the shipping channel Snapper and Sharks are also caught. The most popular location is known as the Shark Hole and is found just north of Sorrento. For the land based angler the Sorrento Pier produces Squid, Whiting and Leatherjackets.
The region of Point Nepean is an excellent fishing location producing, Squid, Whiting, Snapper, Sharks, Kingfish and Flathead. Before fishing this region check with the local authorities to find out witch areas are marine parks.
King George Whiting.
Pound for pound a king George whiting pulls as hard as anything, yet as far as a sports fish go their size limits them. King George Whiting are arguably one of Southern Australia’s best eating fish, their delicate flavour and firm white flesh make most anglers drool at just the thought of landing a couple. Whiting can be found through out the bay. Places to concentrate your efforts should be over grass beds, patchy reef or any area of broken ground. It is rare for whiting to be found in water depths exceeding ten meters. Port Phillip Bay whiting rarely exceed eight hundred grams, yet for those anglers fishing the months between December and April a fish in the one kilo range is always a chance. The Whiting’s preference of habitat makes them an ideal target for both land based and boat anglers alike. When a school of whiting is located it’s not uncommon for angler to catch their bag limit  in less than one hour. Tackle for whiting should be kept simple. A light spinning rod and reel will suffice in most situations. Line should not be over four kilograms and number four long shank hooks are the choice of most anglers. A running sinker rig is the most popular coupled with a sinker to suite the condition. Best baits for whiting are mussels, squid, pippies and sand worms.
Bream are not exactly caught in the bay yet a number of the rivers flowing into Port Phillip Bay hold quite healthy populations. The Werribee, Marybinong, Yarra, Patterson and Balcombe rivers all produce at various times of the year. Normal bream fishing techniques are employed very successfully.
Squid are caught throughout the bay over most grass beds and reefs. I deal squid locations are flat reef with good weed cover in about three to four meters of water. The squid in the bay vary in size depending on the location that you’re fishing. Anglers in the southern end of the bay catch squid up to and over three kilos. Squid throughout the rest of the bay tend to range around the two to four hundred gram mark. The most popular method of catching squid in Port Phillip Bay is by the use of Prawn or Yo-Zuri squid jigs. These jigs cast and retrieved in a slow jerking and sinking method are quite productive. Bait Jigs are also used by anglers especially those fishing the southern end of the bay, this style of offering is very effective on larger Squid. Once a school of squid is located it can be quite easy to catch your limit of 10. Squid are not just fantastic to eat they are also one of the best baits for fishing Port Phillip Bay. Snapper, Whiting, Flathead and Gummy shark are just a few of the species that find a feed of squid irresistible.
Salmon are one of the Bay’s true sports fish, their power and stamina provide great sport on light tackle. They are a schooling fish that move around the bay freely. Salmon tend to stay relatively close to shore and prefer a bottom with patchy reef. This being said they are liable to turn up at any time. Salmon range in size from two hundred grams to over four kilos. The smaller salmon in the bay are locally referred to as Bay Trout. A school of Salmon are usually located quite easily as diving birds indicate the presence of bait that the salmon have herded up.
Garfish are found throughout Port Phillip Bay during the warmer months. They can be caught in close over the same sorts of seabeds as whiting or out deep in the channels while fishing for Snapper. The key to getting a few garfish around your boat is a good Burley. Tuna Oil, bread, fish scraps and pellets make the perfect burley. When attracted their schools can be quite large. With the aid of a float, a number 12 or 13 hook baited with silver fish, maggots, Pippies or fish pieces they are great fun to catch for the whole family. Garfish are not only good to eat they also make fantastic Snapper bait
Yellowtail Kingfish reach over twenty-five kilos and are the only real game fish the bay as to offer other than Sharks. The place to chase Kingfish is in the Rip and along the Lonsdale wall. Many locals’ fish for them using a technique of slowly trawling with strong handlines baited with squid. If the conditions are favourable trawling with medium sport fishing outfits is also productive. Lures such as Konaheads, rubber squid and minnow styles are all productive. Kingfish are also encountered when fishing for Salmon as the occasionally mix into the salmon school.
Snapper are caught in Port Phillip Bay all year round. Yet the majority of the larger fish are caught between October and April. It’s during this period each year that large numbers of ocean going Snapper enter Port Phillip Bay. This migration is believed to be due to the fishes’ urge to breed. Snapper are in Port Phillip Bay when food is plentiful; summer migrations of Whiting, Squid, Salmon and Pilchards make this a time of plenty. Large resident Snapper can be caught all year round if your willing to put in the time and effort required. One such location known for its winter Snapper is Corio Bay. While not growing to the same sizes as their South Australian cousins there are enough fish between three and seven kilograms to keep everybody happy. The occasional fish in excess of ten kilograms is landed each year by a few lucky anglers. Snapper are a schooling fish, once located large catches can be common but remember size and bag limits.
While large snapper are normally caught in deep waters smaller juvenile fish known locally as Pinkies are quite often caught over the same shallow broken grounds that Whiting haunt. Pinkies are ferocious feeders and move about in large schools. They provide great entertainment on light spinning outfits. While Pinkies are caught all year round the peak time to chase them is the months of December till April.
Snapper are fished for with lines ranging from four to ten kilograms depending on the type of bottom your fishing over.
Best baits for Snapper are Squid, Silver Whiting, Cuttlefish, Octopus, Pilchards, Barracouta and Salmon
The most regularly caught edible shark in Port Philip Bay is the Gummy Shark. They are generally a bi-catch of Snapper fishing. Sharks are most common in the bay during the warmer months as the follow the migrations of fish into the warm water of the bay. Seven Gill, Whaler, Thrasher, Gummy, School and even Moko and Blue sharks are caught. Not many anglers in Port Phillip Bay primarily chase sharks, yet those that do have exceptional results. Many sharks over one hundred kilograms are encountered. Of the larger species Seven Gill and Whaler Sharks are the most common.
The best baits are oily bloody fish flesh baits like Tuna, Trevally, Salmon and Pilchards.
Port Phillip Bay is serviced by many quality boat ramps, yet car parking can be a problem and launching fees are charged at most ramps. Those wishing to fish Port Phillip Bay require a fishing licence and also a boating licence for those venturing out in boats. Fishing licences are obtained from most bait and tackle stores and a one-year licence is reasonable priced at twenty dollars. Boat Licence test are written multiple answer exams conducted at Vic Roads offices.
Port Phillip Bay is a fantastic fishing destination. Due to the shape of the Bay there is always a location where the wind is blowing offshore. With Port Phillip Bay covering over two thousand square kilometres and being Australia’s largest tidal lagoon there is plenty of room for everybody to catch a brace.
A Big thankyou to Paul Pingiaro for suppling this article to us from Mornington Boat Hire, Bait and Tackle.Check them out at the link below.
Mornington Boat Hire, Bait and Tackle