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Talkin’ snapper
  |  First Published: November 2010



After the consistent cold and wet conditions of the past few months, it feels great to finally be within the clutches of spring once again.

Spring signals the beginning of the fishing season for many Victorian anglers, particularly those living in my neck of the woods. By all predictions, we are in for a bumper season this year on Port Phillip.

Come November, and all the talk is about snapper. In reality, you can successfully target snapper right throughout the year, but the combination of warmer weather and water temperatures, and a big influx of spawning adults makes fishing opportunities for our great sportfish all the more appealing.

Most of the bays reputable charter operators start to target snapper in earnest from October, and already I am getting great reports from right along the eastern seaboard. From my experience, the most important target area early in the season is structure.

Before the water temperatures reach their prime level, snapper will tend to hold close to structure, especially reef, rubble and artificial structure in large schools. Check out the sounder screen shot in this article of some big fish holding close to the Carrum wreck.

Bite periods are also normally shorter, and can be predictably close to changes in tide and light. Best bet is to locate fish on your sounder, stay on them and use good quality baits. A bit of berley never hurts either.

Specifically, most of the recent action seems to be in depths between 17-19m right along from Carrum to Mt Martha. Most of the snapper are between 3-4kg in weight, but are in prime condition. Some fish have been much larger however, with one ripper fish of 6.3kg coming aboard a recent charter with matt Cini on “Reel Time”.

Bait selection is almost always a personal choice, but the old favourite pilchards and squid are always worth a crack. Fresh is best, so fresh caught squid is prime, as well as gars, salmon fillet and frozen offerings like red rockets and sauries.

Don’t be shy to fish light line either, 4-6kg outfits are more than enough, and as always soft plastics are worth a try, but will be more effective later in the season as the snapper move about and graze in the warmer and shallower water.

Yak bream

The recent fishing in the bays estuaries and creeks has also been tip top over the past month, with some great reports and even a few surprises thrown in for good measure. The local yak boys have been giving my Patterson River bream a real hard time, especially when the water was dirty after heavy rain.

I have also received reports of some nice fish taken at the mouth of Kananook and Balcombe Creeks too. The bream fishing can be awesome at this time and they will respond well to baits and lures. At the risk of banging on too much, I would like to encourage anglers to practice catch and release if possible. Bream are a very slow growing fish, and too valuable to catch only once.

Surprise estuary perch

Local kayak angler Matt Petrie also sent in a photo of a cracking estuary perch from the Patto as well, which was taken on a vibe underneath a boat hull, just inside the canal floodgates.

It’s not the first estuary perch I have heard of being caught in the Patto, but a quality fish weighed at 1.3kg before release.

Calamari continues

The squid fishing continues to amaze me, and many others, and will improve even further as the water warms and clears on the inshore reefs. Recently, some very calm weather has prevailed, especially on their weekends, which has made the squid a little cagey. Bets thing to do in this situation, especially if you can see squid ghosting your jig, but not taking it properly is to use light line and smaller slower sinking jigs. I have used 3lb or even 2lb at times; good quality fluorocarbon is best. Neutral coloured jigs are the best bet too.

Land-based improving

Plenty of options will continue for land-based anglers for snapper too, especially during rougher weather and change of light. Most bread and butter species will be on the cards as well from the piers, but early and late in the day is always best, as the weather gets warmer.

It’s hard not to get excited at this time of year if you’re a Victorian, if you don’t you should probably take up golf. Here’s looking forward to screaming reels and soft plastic munching snapper, and the long warm days to come.

Bream and kayaks go together like sauce on a pie – the Patterson River and canals is a perfect place to hunt for some thumpers on lures.

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