Get on the red train
  |  First Published: November 2010

Fishing in Melbourne’s west really comes alive during November. After two Grand Finals the AFL season is well and truly over, the weather is improving and the water temperature is on the rise.

More importantly, however, hoards of hungry snapper have arrived in Port Phillip.


Reflecting on the local scene at this time last year, snapper averaging 2-4kg were taken in 6-10m of water from Williamstown through to Point Cook on baitfish profile soft plastics, fresh squid and silver whiting on the rising tides. My diary indicates that reports were just starting to filter through during mid October, but come November, some anglers were bagging out well before 8:00am on occasions.


Targeting snapper on soft plastics will no doubt become increasingly popular again this season. November is definitely the month to try new snapper techniques, so here’s a few tips to get you started. Basically it’s better to cast with the wind and well ahead of a drifting boat, but you can also still fish at anchor if you prefer.

A lightweight 2-4kg graphite rod matched to a 2500 size reel is ideal for pinkies up to about 3kg on the inshore reefs. A more powerful blank rated at 3-6kg, coupled with a 4000 size reel, is perhaps better suited to working heavier jig-heads in deeper water. Four to six inch baitfish profile minnows, flick-baits and jerk-shads in natural tones such as pumpkinseed, smelt and pilchard colour patterns have been consistent performers over the past few years.

Bright pinks and greens that glow or those that create a distinctive contrast effect are also highly productive. With two anglers on board it’s always worth mixing it up until a pattern is established. After making a long cast, allow the lure to sink on a semi-slack line.

Upon reaching the bottom, the line will slacken noticeably, at which point you should commence a lift, drop and pause retrieve. Occasionally snapper will intercept a plastic while it is being dragged through the water, but typically takes occur as it sinks during a pause in the retrieve. A technique known as ‘dead-sticking’, which basically involves suspending the retrieve for long periods while the plastic lies motionless on the bottom, may trigger a strike from shy or shut down fish.


Andre Lindsay from Melbourne Fishing Charters reports that a few snapper have been taken off Williamstown, although they were initially a little slow to school up in the west. Flathead have been abundant in 15m of water, particularly in areas where baitfish are present. A few silver trevally, tailor, rock ling and barracouta have kept clients entertained in between the snapper.

Squid, salmon and snook have been active in the shallows from Williamstown through to Altona. Craig Matthews put a bag of calamari together recently on 2.5 size Yamashita prawn imitations in the Nemo colour pattern.

Chris from the Fishvictoria.com forums experienced a hot session chasing snook which cost him a few soft plastics.

Australian salmon continue to patrol the inshore reefs. A range of lures including baitfish profile soft plastics, metal slugs and surface poppers have been producing fish up to about a kilo.

Out wider, plenty of flathead will keep you occupied while waiting for a snapper. Simon Antonello mentioned that whole pilchards, half sauires and soft plastics were taken with gusto in 18m of water off Altona.


Squid have made a welcome return to the shallow weed beds in the Point Cook region over the past month. Michael Felsovary from Hooked on Bait and Tackle reports that squid jig sales increased markedly during early October with most anglers returning to the ramp with a feed.

While the average size has been just a few hundred grams, there are plenty of them and the larger models won’t be too far away. Flathead have been taken in good numbers along the 12-13m line off Werribee South on bluebait.


As the metropolitan rivers gradually settle after the early spring rains, Melbourne’s population of southern black bream have been the major drawcard for many land-based anglers of late. Bream up to 35cm are available from the piers and jetties at Williamstown, while Victoria Harbour continues to produce some superb inner-city sportfishing.

Bream up to 40cm have been taken on both fresh mussel and a variety of vibration style lipless crank-baits cast up against the jetty pylons. Expect both the Yarra and Maribyrnong Rivers to fire as the water warms moving into summer.


The Werribee River is fishing well for bream, small salmon and mullet. Brad Hodges had a couple of cracking sessions in the lower estuary recently, with fish up to 45cm taken while testing the new range of Berkley 3B hardbodied lures. Anglers fishing further upstream have also recorded bag limit captures of bream on live tube worms.

Wyndham City Council has commenced upgrade works to the Werribee South boat ramp and jetty, which will include the installation of two more floating pontoons. The work is expected to be complete by the end of February 2011, but the ramp should remain operational during this period.

In years gone by, the Melbourne Cup weekend generally signals the start of the traditional snapper season, so if you haven’t already been out searching, now is the time.

Reads: 1999

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