Peak Hour for Snapper
  |  First Published: October 2010

Ok, this is peak hour as far as snapper are concerned. October sees the annual influx of larger than average snapper along the Surf Coast, around the Bellarine Peninsula and into Corio Bay.

Boat ramps are as full as sick leave certificate inboxes and more often than not; anglers are de-frosting their fishing gear after a long cold winter.

Geelong Freshwater

The Barwon River in Geelong copped a real flogging as far as brown coffee stained water goes. Buckets of rain fell late August and early September on both Geelong and the Otways. Otways rainfall fills the Barwon River and the consequent flows end up running through Geelong. Our eldest daughter is 8 years old and this is the first time the Breakwater Bridge has flooded in her lifetime. Heavy rain generally shuts the Barwon River right down as far as fishing goes unless you’re partial to eel. Eels generally bite well when the water is muddy. They’ll take just about any bait fished on the bottom and bite best after dark.

Geelong Saltwater

From all reports, the Geelong waterfront has fished well for soft plastic enthusiasts. I’ve had a few goes down there and not done so well, but others have reported snapper up around 40cm and the odd flathead casting soft plastics from the shore.

Boat-based anglers fishing out deeper have taken salmon to 45cm fairly consistently. Snapper anglers should target the deeper waters of Corio Bay near the channel during the annual October run.

Bellarine Peninsula

Calamari can really turn it on this time of year and Clifton Springs saw the black ink flying recently, with best results after 5pm over the weed bed towards Curlewis from the boat ramp.

Of course, it’s not all about the calamari, but those big red fish. The last 4-5 seasons along the Bellarine Peninsula have been spectacular with some truly outstanding captures in the region.

Portarlington and Clifton Springs are extremely popular with excellent launching facilities and snapper fishing to match. Outgoing tide is often the go and those squid in the shallows sure make excellent bait!

If you draw a blank on the squid, good old pilchards account for plenty of fish throughout the season as do silver whiting (check out the seafood section in the local supermarket) octopus or especially cuttlefish if you can get any. Get to the boat ramps early, as they are often full at 5 or 6am as are the boat service places this time of year.

Anglers should expect at least once fish either side of 5kg if they put the effort and hours.

St Leonards and Indented Head are the quiet achievers on the Bellarine Peninsula. Their launching facilities are not as good as Clifton Springs and Portarlington, but they still draw crowds so get there early.

Snapper over 5kg can be taken in quiet shallow water here as long as the light is fairly low such as with dawn or dusk. During the day, it is best to head out deeper. You can either sound around for the fish or just drift with big lead in 10m+. Both are effective and drifting can cover a lot of water.


The silver trevally have been fairly consistent over the cooler months with a steady stream of 40cm fish making themselves available. Biggest fish have fallen to soft plastic enthusiasts while bait anglers have taken most fish.

Most fish have been around 25-35cm with a few over 40cm. Best bet has been the start of the run out tide.

Over in the Lonsdale Bight, the whiting were biting well over the last month. Bag limits were fairly scarce, but the quality of fish was right up there with fish under 40cm rare. Clean, incoming tide was most consistent and a few moves are often required to find the fish. Big calamari should show up around the shallows in October. Try drifting in about 4-5m of water with a good mix of artificial jigs and skewered baits such as garfish, silver whiting or small, but legal length, Australian salmon.

The majority of big snapper that are caught off Queenscliff are out in water over 5m. There are some reefs out there, but the tide can really run hard here so you’ll need long leaders.

Barwon Heads and Torquay

The Barwon River ran brown for yonks and the fishing was very tough inside the estuary. Ken Stevens from Barwon Heads Angling Club says that the water barely clears up even on high tide there is so much fresh coming down. Ken suggests that the bream should be way downstream near the mouth, but has not heard of anyone fishing for them.

There has been some tiger flathead available offshore and this is very early for them. These fish can attain 3kg around November and they are some of the best eating flathead that will ever pass your lips so it is well worth a drift for them this time of year.

Silver trevally have also made an appearance near the mouth of the Barwon River, but most have been taken on baits such as pilchard fillets.

Anglers fishing deep rubble around 40m will encounter both school and gummy sharks off Torquay and Barwon Heads this time of year. They often grab baits meant for snapper. Speaking of snapper, it is time to hit the reef areas for big red along the Surf Coast! There are some great reefs to fish from the Rip to Torquay

Anglesea and the Great Ocean Road

The Anglesea River remained relatively clear during the heavy rain, but the bream fishing was very hard indeed. The mouth remained closed for ages and the river was very high. The local surf beaches and Point Roadknight pumped out a few salmon up to 2.2kg. Dusk seemed best with the average size a healthy 800g.

Dylan Pace from Torquay fished the Ocean Road estuaries regularly while the rain was falling. Dylan says that although the going was tough, he did manage a few bream to 35cm on Gulp Turtleback worms in camo and Damiki ox blood monster mikis.

Last month there has been plenty of action for surf fishos along the Great Ocean Road. From Anglesea Back Beach to Eastern View has been hit and miss, but when you land on a big school of salmon, all hell breaks loose! Some fish have been over 2.3kg, but most are around 800g.

Catch a few around Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula or Surf Coast to Lorne recently? Send in a report to --e-mail address hidden-- with “VFM” in the subject field or give me a call on 0408 997348. Please include where (without giving away your secret spot!), when, what on and who caught the fish. Pictures are always great, but please make sure they are at least 1mb (file size).

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