Corinella is about 115 km south- east of Melbourne on the eastern side of Western Port. There is a jetty, slipway and a 24-hour all-tide boat ramp. Anglers who launch their boats here regard these waters as something special. After launching at Corinella you are within 5 mins motoring of some of the most productive grounds in Western Port. The quality fish include elephant fish, gummy shark, King George whiting, mulloway, sand flathead and snapper.
It was about 5am and the ebb tide was flowing strongly when I ventured out with Brendan ‘Winga’ Wing in his 4.75 m boat. We headed along the Mosquito Channel opposite Corinella along French Island. The water was calm with only a zephyr of a breeze. Our bait consisted of fresh squid that Winga caught the day before on the weed beds near Tortoise Head. It was quiet and we had five rods in the water, reels set in gear on a drag setting of about 1.5 kg.
Winga knows these waters well. He has caught mulloway to 18 kg off Corinella, and done it consistently; an enviable record. This success rate doesn’t happen by accident. Winga said he believes in the ‘1 per centers’ so everything that can be done to ensure success is done. On each outing, traces are re-tied, hooks checked for sharpness and knots tested at least twice.
However, the critical factor, according to Winga, is bait. ‘Unless your bait is fresh, and by fresh I mean no more than one day old, you can forget about mulloway.’
The first strike came at about 5.30am. I took the rod, felt a couple of hard head knocks typical of mulloway and the hooks pulled out. We’d come out with bananas on board, something that is anathema to many boat skippers because they are said to bring bad luck. After dropping that first fish, doubts arose over the bananas, but we were on a myth-busting exercise. Twenty minutes later, another strike buried the starboard side rod, this time the hooks held and a 7 kg mulloway came to the net.
As we fished into late morning, elephant fish started to annoy us. There’s nothing wrong with elephants, but we were after mulloway. It is due to the elephants, which glow with a satin sheen, and mulloway that Winga refers to this area as the ‘Chrome Zone’. Part of our by-catch comprised fast- running eagle rays and three large sharks that couldn’t be turned.