As much as look into it, I can’t explain the frustration I get when it comes to fishing for snapper.
Like many anglers, I have caught my fair share over the years but one thing’s for sure: this species is the most stubborn and frustrating species I have ever come across. I can’t think of another fish that does your head in so much. You find them on the sounder, the water temp is perfect, barometer rising, perfect time in the tide and still they won’t bite.
At the end of the day, I guess this is the lure for anglers to keep heading out day after day. If they were easy, we’d just get sick of them.
Although many will still be hunting the reds, things will start to slow down as the water temp begins its decline. January is a good time to fish in the shallows on first light, which is where the larger reds can be found.
Coronet Bay is a classic location to fish first light with a high tide. If you push right in near the boat ramp into about 5m of water, you’re sure to sound up some solid fish. Being quiet is very important as any noise in this depth can spook the fish.
From Coronet Bay right through to San Remo is also a great location to hunt whiting. But the Middle Spit, Tortoise Head, Quail and Tyabb Banks and the upper reaches of the Port will also produce quality fish. For the larger versions try fishing in 10-12m of water.
If you catch a run-out tide, fish the edge of the bank at Hanns Inlet; this is a prime big whiting location. Just to spice things up, it also pays to put out a squid prong under a float. Calamari are in abundance here and are often caught during the first and last hours of a tide change.
There is also some monster garfish around at the moment. We pulled up on Casey Mason one afternoon as he was anchored just out from Hanns. Casey was collecting bait for his next charter and had a great bag of gars with many between 40-46cm. These fish can also be found along the edges of the Middle Spit.
For those looking for something bigger, many game fishing anglers begin their quest for mako sharks offshore. Providing the schools of arrow squid turn up this year, the makos will be in good numbers. With all the controversy last season, few makos were caught, but this season, well who knows how it will turn out. In the past, January, February and March are the prime months to target mako sharks and if it is anything like any other year, plenty will be caught and released.
If you’re looking for something a little bit different, a spot of land-based angling is always good fun. While there are plenty of species to target from the land, fishing with the kids is about as much fun as fishing itself.
Western Port has plenty of safe and easily accessible locations for families and none better than the Cowes Pier. Although it can become crowded during the summer months, there are plenty of fish on offer. Fish the end of the pier on either side the that tide is running, this will prevent you from tangling up other anglers lines.
Species available are barracouta, whiting, snapper, gummy sharks and flathead. A paternoster rig or snapper snatcher will allow you to fish two baits and cast a fair distance considering the sinker is at the bottom of the rig. This will carry the weight forward getting the best distance from a cast.
If you’re looking for something bigger, use a running sinker rig with a whole salmon fillet. You may lock horns with a seven-gill shark, snapper or big gummy.
Either way, berley is essential. Grab an onion bag and partly fill it with pellets and tuna oil. Secure to a pylon and allow it to dangle on the water’s surface. The force of the tide will disperse the berley and attract the fish. Remember, when berleying, there is no need to cast to the moon, rather cast your baits in the berley trail as this is where the fish will be.
When berleying from the surface, it may also pay to have a rod set with a float and size 12 long shank hook under it. Garfish are in abundance and a hook containing a slither of prawn, pipi or silver fish will do the job.
Whatever you do, however you catch it I would love to hear about it. If you’d like to report your catch along with any photo’s you can do so by emailing me at --e-mail address hidden-- or by text message to 0427 693 759.Reads: 5449