Westernport Bay is a swirling mass of silty water, wrapping itself around French and Phillip Islands. It can be a boatie’s nightmare. The run-out tide stands up in a southerly breeze and sandbars appear like desert fortresses at low tide. The locals say there are two types of fishermen in Westernport; those who have run aground, and those that will. But fish seem to love the fast water, and those who master the tides often catch big bags.
The key to Westernport is to hit it up at slack water, or an hour either side of it. Fish the channels in between tides, then sit on the banks and backwaters during the tidal run. Use dropper rigs to keep bait off the bottom, adjusting sinker weights to hold your position in the current. Summer is the best time of the year, however you can pretty much count on catching a fish year-round at Westernport.
The North Arm is the equivalent of the Nepean Highway, carrying every species imaginable up and down the Bay, from Yarringah to Stony Point and east from Tankerton to the Eastern Channel. At high tide, fish the edge of weed beds for whiting, garfish, calamari and trevally. A burley trail will help bring the fish on. Popular spots are the Tyabb banks, Middle Spit, Tortoise Head and Tankerton. Chase the big one around the change of tide in the deep water off Lysaghts and in the channels.