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Reds under the bed
  |  First Published: December 2011



As December arrives, anglers from Port Phillip and Western Port are now recovering from tendinitis of the wrists as their bumper snapper season winds down for another year.

The annual snapper run kicks off a little later for us and it is now our turn to stretch a few ligaments as the red army heads back out into the open ocean.

The coastal reefs from Lorne to Cape Otway attract plenty of big reds at this time of year and the local fishos are already reporting some good captures. Fishing with fresh fish or squid baits in 40m of water around reef edges or broken ground should see a few snapper come over the side as will anchoring on the same terrain in 10-20m.

When fishing in shallow water, try flicking a few soft plastics around as this can really stir up some interest and get the fish fired up. Expect to catch plenty around the 1kg mark but if you persist in the right areas and fish the turn of the tide at dawn or dusk then fish of 3-4kg and even as big as 7kg are a possibility.

As most of the offshore ground along this part of the coast is open sand flats, the reef patches can be hard to find. If you’re new to the area try searching offshore of Mount Defiance, Kennett River, Cape Pattern or Cape Otway and keep an eye on your depth sounder for any likely looking locations.

The beauty of fishing for snapper along the edges of these reef systems is that gummy and school sharks also call this area home.

Gummy sharks to 15kg have been taken of late with many more around 8kg being brought in each day. If you find yourself hooking up and getting bitten off then it’s time to put on a short wire trace and prepare for a titanic battle with one of the local school sharks.

Once these guys hone in on your bait they will keep biting your hook off unless you use a wire trace. Reaching sizes of up to 30kg you will definitely know you have something on if you hook up on your standard snapper setup. It’s for this reason I recommend using 15kg braided line with a 20kg mono leader as your main outfit just incase one decides to come and join the party.

Large numbers of flathead have arrived back in the area and can be caught in 30-40m by drifting over the open sand. Tough baits such as squid or fish fillets with the skin left on work best and this way multiple captures can be made on a single bait.

King George whiting have been caught from the waterfall reefs and off Marengo with fish as big as 48cm taking pipis. Fishing in less then 10m of water on calm days while dispersing a fine berley trail should see the whiting lining up to eat your bait.

Calamari squid are back in the boat harbour at Apollo Bay and can be caught from the pier with small prawn imitation squid jigs. Early morning and late afternoon will see them biting more ferociously but they can be caught right throughout the day.

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