Shallow Inlet

Getting ready at Shallow Inlet, Steve Cooper

Shallow Inlet is one of few places in Victoria where you can launch your boat off the beach. You can reach the inlet via Sandy Point or from the Wilsons Promontory side, turning from the Fish Creek–Yanakie road.

Coming in off the road, I was greeted by the sight of a Ford station wagon towing a 5.5 m long tri-hull. The driver deftly drove across the wet sandy flats, turned his vehicle around and proceeded to extend the drawbar on his trailer. When all was ready, he reversed into the water, offloaded his boat and drove back to the dry sand area next to the sand dunes to park his vehicle. Another boat angler was already on the water, trolling for salmon a few hundred metres inside the entrance. On the beach next to the boat-launching area, there was just one other angler. It was a chilly day but he was well rugged up, at times standing waist- deep in water as he worked the channel edges for yank flathead with bait and lure.

The fishing might have been slow but you couldn’t buy the  view – the long stretches of sand, the rolling waves and the mountainous backdrop that is Wilsons Promontory.

As well as flathead, anglers who fish Shallow Inlet come to catch King George whiting, garfish, yelloweye mullet, silver trevally, gummy sharks, snapper and Australian salmon. As with all waters, time of year will dictate  what you catch.

Anglers willing to venture offshore into Waratah Bay through the bar can do well. The bay is renowned for King George whiting and you can reliably expect to hook all Bass Strait species, including snapper, sand flathead and barracouta. The more daring may want to head to Glennie Islands chasing big yellowtail kingfish.

The first I heard of the big yellowtail schools at Glennie Islands was from a diver friend Rob Torelli. Rob, a six-times Australian Open Spearfishing Champion, is a free diver, meaning he doesn’t use air tanks, and is one of a small band of skindivers who call themselves blue- water hunters. He gets in the water with a spear gun, starts up a berley trail, targets the species he wants, and then spears it. Some anglers probably look down their noses at this style of fishing, but Rob has always been selective.

Kings are both highly regarded and keenly sought because they are fish with a huge reputation for speed, tough fighting and excellent eating qualities – a true sportfish that experienced anglers know will test them out. On Australia Day 2008, Rob and his mate, Jozef Bednaret launched at Shallow Inlet and went to the Glennie Islands.

Rob reckons the schools of kingfish encountered over the 2009 Australia Day weekend were ‘consistently bigger than any schools I have seen for 30 years’. Averaging about 15–20 kg, they were feeding on large schools of cowanyoung and arrow squid.

Each diver landed a kingfish: Jozef’s weighing 19.6 kg and Rob’s 17.35 kg. Jozef’s was the largest fish of any species ever taken by a spearfisher in Victoria and exceeded a 25-year-old record.

A range of accommodation is available within the township of Sandy Point, including a neat little caravan park, nestled in behind the sand dunes. Picnic facilities including barbecues, tables and toilets are provided on the foreshore neighbouring the Western Beach parking area. On the eastern shore of Shallow Inlet, visitors have the choice of accommodation at the caravan park and camping grounds off Lester Road.

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