Piers of the Peninsula
August 3, 2012
Written by Dan Lee.
Appears courtesy of Victorian Fishing Monthly (VFM) Magazine.
The southern Mornington Peninsula is unique in offering an abundance of pier based fishing alternatives. With nine or so significant piers and a number of smaller and private structures it boasts more fishable piers than anywhere in the state. And with the influx of the Christmas holiday crowds, many of whom do not have access to boats, we thought it a great opportunity to do the rounds and examine what is on offer at each!
Pier fishing is a great way to introduce the family to fishing but can also yield some serious bags of fish for the more experienced angler. Personally what I love about it is its simplicity. Armed with a 7 foot 2-4kg light graphite spin stick and a matching 2500 size reel, you are ready to tackle 90% of what you will encounter on the pier. Take a bag of plastics, a few squid jigs, a couple of paternoster style rigs and you are set for a day treading the boards, getting amongst some fantastic land based action and all without the hassle of a boat to clean at the end of the experience! So let’s check out the variety of locations on the peninsula.
Milla Lee on Flinders Pier. A trip to the pier is a great way to introduce your kids to fishing.
What it lacks for in size it makes up for in quality. This little pier at the heart of the Dromana township, is an absolute staple for the late afternoon gar crowd. For whatever reason, the Dromana pier is probably the most consistent provider of gar fish on the peninsula. Also famous for swirling schools of good size bream, which are sure to leave you frustrated as they are notoriously hard to temp, this little pier is certainly worth a visit with the kids although it gets very busy due to its size.
Joe Farr explores one of the smaller peninsula piers.
Rosebud Pier is probably one of the longest on the peninsula which probably contributes to it’s one claim to fame – shark fishing. Beneath the pier is quite sandy and although it does see a mixed bag of fish produced, it doesn’t offer the same reefy bottom available at some of the other peninsula piers. Having said that, armed with a southerly wind, a packet of balloons and a game outfit, the Rosebud Pier has developed a bit of a reputation for being the place to catch Bronze Whaler sharks. Each year we see a seriously large shark in the local paper caught from the Rosebud Pier. Be aware that angry bronze whalers should not be taken lightly and I would urge anyone targeting them to do the right thing and release them.
High on the target list! The southern calamari is caught from many of the peninsula piers.
Rye Pier is the first of the truly mixed bag piers. Here it is possible to catch salmon, squid, wrasse, flathead, whiting, leather jacket and a host of other species. As one might expect from a pier producing such variety it has areas of sand, as well as weed reef and shell bottom. Keep an eye out for divers, they tend to be everywhere at Rye pier and don’t appreciate a fish hook lodged in their wet suit!
The Rye Pier seen from the sky. During peak summer this pier will see literally hundreds of anglers daily.
Tommy Rough like this are often caught right through late spring and into summer from many of the peninsula's piers.
Blairgowrie is famed for its monumental catches of salmon that are produced in late winter and early spring. At this time of year , periodically throughout the day, hugs schools will appear, clearly attracted by the cover offered by the armada of boats moored at the marina, and the relative safe haven of the deeper water called the ‘Shark Hole’ which sits in front of the Marina.
Be warned that you are only supposed to fish off the eastern side of the Marina. While the western side is not a Marine Park, as some of the signs suggest, it is understandable that the yachties and boating enthusiasts are not too keen on sinkers and lures being cast around their precious vessels.
If you have time to grab a snorkel and mask over summer it is also a great place to go for a swim. Check out the outer wall, which when viewed from the surface seems to be a solid barricade which runs right to the sea floor. When viewed underwater however, it is actually a suspended wall and it is possible to dive right down and under it and come up on the other side.
Jules Frank with a lovely silver trevally taken on plastic at the Sorrento Pier.
Sorrento Pier is home to the famous Sorrento-Queenscliff boat ferry. There are good patches of reef and weed here, which means that like Rye and Portsea you will see a mixed bag of fish caught. Personally, I love Sorrento for the quality schools of Silver Trevally that are seen and caught from August through summer. These little power packs are best targeted using extremely light jig heads with small nymph and worm style plastics. Drifting the plastic down into the oncoming school of trevs is a sure fire way to get hooked up to one of these little balls of muscle. Sorrento, in it’s own right, is also noted for the high quality squid it produces. While fishing at night has also been known to yield a Seven Gill Shark or two.
There are often times when you are almost sight fishing on the pier. Keeping an eye out for a lone calamari or school of fish can improve your catch rate.
Three words: Big Squid Country. Portsea Pier and Flinders Pier are the hands down winners if you aspire to catching yourself a monster calamari. There is something about the combination of tidal water and heavy reef and weed bottom which sees big squid day after day, year after year, drawn to this fantastic fishing platform. When fishing Portsea Pier it pays to take some bigger jigs like size 3.0. Alternively, take some small sinkers and think about rigging your jigs on a Paternoster style rig. Go too light and due to the tidal flow, you may find it hard to ensure that your jigs are getting down deep enough to where the big squid lurk!
Flathead are a popular target from most of the piers along the peninsula.
This lovely Flathead fell to a soft plastic at the Portsea Pier.
As noted above, this is the other prime destination if it is big squid you seek. Flinders Pier is very weedy, with a thick layer of sea grass running almost the entire length of the pier. Consequently, it is very easy to lose a handful of very expensive squid jigs, so make sure you also pack a baited jag, where you can set the depth of the bait under the float and ensure you’re not left cursing you lost jigs and without anything left to throw at the monster cala often visible from the pier! Due to the enormous amount of weed, it is also the perfect habitat for Grass Whiting, which are in good numbers should you want to catch them. Worm baits such as sand or tube worms seem to be the best enticement for these pretty little fish.
Jules Frank with a typical aussie salmon taken at Blairgowrie Marina.
Finally, while we have only scratched the surface of the land based fishing options on the peninsula, the variation in species available at the locations mentioned above hopefully goes some way to opening up the possibilities in your mind of what might be available on your door step if living or staying on the peninsula. This is truly one of the best land based fishing areas available to Melburnians and well worth a day trip – but pack a bag, you might find yourself wanting to stay for a while!