John Didge

Radio Personality, Sponsored Angler

John has over 40 years experience fishing Corio Bay. He’s co-hosted various fishing radio shows for the Geelong region for over 30 years, written articles and presented fishing from stage. John is a soft plastic lure addict and targets all manner of species on the “softies”. He loves the technical side of fishing and hosts a fishing tech podcast in addition to running his jig head and soft plastic lure business “The Jig Man”.

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Didgy’s Fishing Spots Around Corio And Pt Arlington

Corio Bay is made up of two parts – an inner and an outer harbour divided by the sand spit that runs from Point Henry to Aviona at the Grammar School Lagoon. The spit is bisected by two channels, being the North Channel and the shipping channel. There is minimal water movement in the Inner Harbour, not enough that you’d sense it was there, but near the channels the currents get much stronger. The outer harbour has running water that moves very quickly once you approach Port Arlington. These features provide incredible fishing options no matter which way the wind is blowing.   

#1: Port Arlington Fishing Spots

  • Port Arlington is on the Southern Side of the outer harbour, near when it joins Port Phillip Bay. There is an excellent Marina and boat ramp that offer hundreds of metres of rock walls to fish from. At low tide it’s possible to stand on the rock ledges and cast to the clear patches between the weed.
  • In October-November Port Arlington is the place to target big spawn run yank, blue-spot and sand flathead up to 75cm in size.
  • You’ll find both breaking up and growing weed at this time of year, which can present a bit of a challenge. Wear good polaroids and look for sand patches between the weed.
  • Didgy likes his tonic sunglasses because they’re designed to follow the contours of your face so that you get clear vision no matter how you move your eyes. John likes the amber lenses because they remove glare without making everything look dark.
  • John’s Soso jig head was designed specially for this spot as it’s common to lose a lot of lures. The weedless design of the Soso makes it possible to work it through the holes where flathead are feeding without getting caught up on structure.
  • King George Whiting of 45-60 cm are not uncommon on soft plastics from this spot, with squid, garfish, mackerel and bream also commonly caught. All of these are available land-based, but if you have a boat then snapper are also aa popular target.
  • Port Arlington fishing spots can be fished in any wind and any tide, but a gentle breeze around the last hour of the run in tide and the first hour or so of the runout fish particularly well at places like the Point Richard sandbar, the marina and the rock walls.
  • Good soft plastic lures such as Munroes in natural colours such as swarf are perfect for fishing this area, as is motor oil in 3.75” minnows. Berkley Gulp watermelon pearl or a New Penny coloured minnows or pumpkinseed-coloured turtleback worms are also deadly.
  • You can never work these soft plastics too slowly. Fish the lightest jig head you can get away with, lift the lure with 2-3 sharp taps that move it no more than 8-10”, then keep the rod up high for a few seconds as it sinks back to bottom. 

#2: Clifton Springs Fishing Spots

  • On the southern side of the bay, Clifton Springs is sheltered during southerly, south easterly and south westerly winds and is the #1 location for big snapper. There are dropoff ledges into deeper water, especially in front of the caravan parks.
  • This is a boat-based fishing spot and has an undulating bottom that sees baitfish at various depths. The key is to find what depth the baitfish are sitting at and then focus on fishing that depth with soft plastics for snapper, flathead and other species such as gummy sharks, red mullet and king George whiting.
  • Similar soft plastic lures such as Munroes in natural colours such as swarf are perfect for fishing this area, as is motor oil in 3.75” minnows. Berkley Gulp watermelon pearl or a New Penny coloured minnows or pumpkinseed-coloured turtleback worms are also deadly.
  • The currents flow parallel with the beach and bring food to the fish and can be fished at any time and tide, although does fish slightly better on the outgoing tide.
  • For whiting and squid, concentrating on sand patches between 3-4m deep is a good strategy.

#3: Geelong Waterfront Fishing Spots

  • This area has a number of jetties and rock walls, plus the wave augmenter at the yacht club, all of which are great land-based fishing platforms that give anglers access to water from 2.5 to 12m of water for flathead, pinky snapper and sometimes also much larger snapper.
  • This area is also great for the boat fisher who wants to come close to shore and cast towards land.
  • The fishing in this area is tide dependent, with the incoming tide towards the top being the best time to fish.
  • The same lures and jig heads are effective here as at the previous two spots, with large black bream in the mix if the lure is switched to a 2.5” motor oil coloured grub and slightly lighter lines and leaders are used.
  • Snotty (snub-nosed) trevally also make a spring run in this area and are a sucker for the turtleback worm on a small jig head with a size 1 hook. Cut the worm down so that the hook comes out halfway down the worm. Don’t twitch or jig the lure, let it sink to the bottom and slowly wind (1 turn of the reel every 4-5 seconds). You’ll feel the fish tap, so just slow down even more and wait for the lure to be taken properly.

#4: Saint Helen’s Fishing Spots

  • Saint Helens offers similar fishing opportunities as the Geelong Waterfront but is just a rock wall and giant carpark at the boat ramp. There are five artificial reefs within casting distance and it’s common to back the car to the water’s edge and have a barbecue whilst waiting for the fish to bite.
  • This is a great snapper location with 5-8kg fish being commonly taken along the rock wall. John often throws plastic off this wall in the morning when he has a spare ten minutes on the way to work and regularly catches a feed of flathead.
  • At present there are big schools of salmon up to 2.5kg along the St Helens rock wall, which can be taken using poppers, plastics and high-speed metal lures.
  • It’s a great family location with a playground, toilet block and other amenities. A northerly or easterly wind will make land-based fishing difficult, but any wind with a bit of west in it will fish well.

#5: Grammar School Lagoon

This area can be very challenging, but also an excellent training ground for learning soft plastic fishing. There’s flathead, snapper, bream, gummy shark, estuary perch, salmon and whiting on offer in good numbers, but they’re not easy to catch unless your technique is spot on.

  • This is a great place to fish from a kayak or small boat, but the ramp is not suitable for larger boats, so take care. Top of the tide outgoing is the prime time to fish this area, which is very sheltered in a strong northerly.
  • The water is only 2m deep and the fish get spooked when the wind is up and the moored boats are moving.
  • Unweighted soft plastic swimbaits and bent minnows are a good choice of lures.
  • The seagrass is about 600mm long and gets laid down by the outgoing tide, allowing anglers to fish weedless soft plastics over the sand patches beneath. It’s all about polaroiding and picking the patches where fish are waiting.

 

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