Inner Harbour

Cleaning a catch of King George whiting at Inner Harbour, Steve Cooper

Following the inner harbour around from Bird Rock you pass Avalon Beach, which is little more than a collection of old huts. There is a boat ramp at the west end of Avalon Beach and the seagrass beds between the old channel and the shore are known for King George whiting and flounder. The old channel runs into the western end of the harbour, finishing in Corio Quay. The channel will produce snapper, particularly in spring.

At the northern end of the bay is Limeburners Bay, one of the most famous waters in Port Phillip. The Geelong Grammar School campus looks down on it and it is better known by most anglers as the ‘Grammar School Lagoon’. It isn’t big. Shaped like a figure eight, with two small bays divided in part by a spit of sand, the lagoon features a channel running from Corio Bay at the western entrance, and is separated from the main bay by another sand spit. At the back of the lagoon, Hovell Creek flows in past some mangroves.

Many anglers know the lagoon for its legendary winter snapper fishing. However, it offers a diverse year-round fishery with a mixed bag of species and is easily accessible for both boat- and shore-based angling. The wonderful aspect of this water is that you never know what you are likely to hook.

My most vivid memories of the lagoon are based around 4.20am, when the light in the school clock tower went off. That was the signal for regular anglers who fished the snapper here to change all baits in expectation of a fish at dawn.

The channel edges can produce good catches of yank flathead to 2.5 kg, and the same area is used by schools of salmon and mullet. Apart from the usual run of banjo sharks, stingrays and eagle rays, the lagoon can produce King George whiting, gummy sharks and even the occasional mulloway. Contrary to popular legend, snapper have been caught here in every month of the year, not just the colder months. Be prepared to move though. Most anglers employ depth sounders to mark fish before dropping anchor.

Hovell Creek is highly regarded for its bream fishing, but these fish are also taken from the sand spit on the southern shore and most likely school around the boat moorings of the Lagoon Boat Club.

Tide and current are major factors influencing the movement of fish in and out of this water. The best time to fish it is when the high tide coincides with sunrise. Fish such as snapper and mulloway move in on the floodtide to feed on the crabs, and leave on the ebb tide. If you catch a few fish when the tide is flooding, be sure to stay for a couple of hours of the run-off tide.

Flathead seem to be resident here most of the summer and autumn, and bream can be caught all year. The salmon and mullet are often best from about March through to October. In some years, schools of large salmon have taken up residence and anglers have done well trolling along the channel edges or casting from the beach using small silver wobblers.

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