Snapper push into Summer
  |  First Published: December 2010

On top of the normally silliness and chaos that surrounds this time of year in Port Phillip, the truly unpredictable nature of our weather has been nothing short of amazing.

While we are not alone with this unseasonal pattern, in fact the same and worse has been happening right along the eastern seaboard, it still has made fishing opportunities tough for some.

Tropical would be the best word to describe the conditions over the past month, and for the most part the most frustrating aspect of this for many anglers has been the small windows of good fishing weather and conditions to take advantage of.

However, those anglers who have made the most of their chances have been making hay on the bay!

Snapper numbers very high

Spend any length of time looking at your sounder at the moment, and you’re likely to go a little cross-eyed. There are good numbers of snapper right along the eastern shoreline, and throughout the rest of the bay as well.

The trick is to find the hungry and active fish. The pattern for success has not changed much over the past month, and the general rule is that you will find active fish nearby to a reliable food source such as bait. Many anglers like to employ a steady berley trail from anchor in this situation, and it works well.

It’s hard to zero in on a specific depth at the moment, but from all the reports I have received, the better quality snapper are definitely tending toward the shallower water. This is normally the case, as the larger more nomadic fish like to graze in these areas for shellfish and other food items as they put on condition ready to spawn. Right along from Carrum to Mornington in 13-15m of water is a great place to start. From most reports, the most reliable baits are pilchards, garfish and fresh squid.

Shallow water for lures

The shallower areas are also great for fishing plastics and other lures, although recent rains have discoloured the inshore areas and made drift fishing with plastics a bit of a challenge. When these areas clear however, it will be game on for the plastics angler. Trolled lures are well worth a go as well, especially in some loud colours, and can also be a top way to hook a few snapper while looking at the sounder.

The wider marks are where to go for numbers of smaller fish, and also after heavy rain, and recent water discolouration. Smaller strip baits, and the popular ‘flasher’ style rigs, like the snapper snatchers are the way to go. These rigs very often produce a jaw hook-up, and make releasing snapper unharmed a real breeze. They are also a great method for novice and young anglers to use, and will often out fish other more traditional methods.

Expect the patterns of the past couple of months to change in the coming months as the snapper get geared up to spawn, but I reckon this is a while off yet. The recent rains have given the bays food chain a real shot in the arm, and the condition and quality shows this.

My tip is that the cycle this year is about a month later than we are used too, so expect some stupid action in the next couple of months.

Whiting firing up

Aside from the reds, there has been some ripper whiting on offer too over the past month, especially south from Mornington and Mount Martha down to Rye and beyond.

Often, land-based anglers do well as the whiting move in close to the shore to feed in the morning and at night. Fresh squid, pipis and mussels are your best baits, and Bass yabbies are great too if you can get hold of any.

Frankston Pier has also been turning the action for Australian salmon during the strong onshore blows. Metal lures and soft plastics are best.

My mate Dougie Bauer also sent me an email with heaps of recent photos; it seems he’s doing more fishing than me these days. As well as some great snapper, Dougie has also been tickling up a few bream in Patterson lakes.

Once again, it’s all about snapper for another month, and this will continue for some time to come. Take time to get the best bait and tackle you can, and keep an eye on your sounder at all times.

Don’t be afraid to try something a little different to bag that big red.

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