Snapper madness continues in Port Phillip Bay
  |  First Published: December 2011

The warmer weather has definitely rolled into our bay over the last month and has brought some ripper fishing conditions with it.

The recent heavy rainfall has caused some unsettled periods at times with substantial downpours and some pretty impressive storm activity being thrown into the mix. Some of us may even be excused for taking a look around recently wondering what state we are living in!

Snapper Chaos

The yearly snapper chaos has taken over the bay as usual, and some ripper captures have been reported. The most encouraging feature to the years snapper run so far has been the quality and numbers of fish that have been on the chew, particularly when a large school of snapper is located. The general condition of the fish is also first class, and no wonder with the acres of bait and other food sources available to the feeding snapper, as well as the general health and vitality of the bay itself.

An element of inconsistency still remains when targeting snapper as always, as they tend to favour certain stages of the tide, the change of high and low, and the change of light. As with your choice of bait, many of these decisions are based on anglers’ preferences and their previous success, but the most consistent target time currently has been tide changes close to first and last light. This pattern has been particularly productive around the deeper marks, especially out wide from Mornington, Seaford, Frankston and Carrum on the 19-22m line.

Your choice of bait is varied as always, but from the recent reports I have received, silver whiting and pilchards have been the standout baits. Many anglers have been choosing to fish these completely unweighted as well, to capitalise on the mid-water migratory fish missed with baits anchored on the bottom.

Another worthy tip when fishing this way is to ensure a wide spread of presentations from your rod holders. Fortunately, most areas in my part of the world have little or no current, so a wide spread 180 from the back of the boat is more than achievable. The use of lighter leader is also recommended for better presentation of your sinking bait.

Cricket scores of snapper

I have had several recent reports of some real cricket score captures out wide from Mornington and Mount Martha. The yacht markers out in this area can sometimes seem like a magnet for boats, and a sea of navigation lights at night. Typically, most of the fish in this area have been around the 1.5-4kg range with the odd bigger one thrown in as well. Many anglers have been varying up their approach as well whilst on the anchor with soft plastics and vibe style lures being sent down into the fray as well.

Some dedicated anglers are even choosing to fish plastics and lures only in the deeper areas with good success. Larger vibration baits, and Mask Vibes have also been accounting for a few nice snapper as well. Stay tuned for the next issue of V&TFM because your humble author will be road testing some new lures over the next month or so that have been specifically fine tuned for snapper.

In and around the shallower marks, anglers have also been targeting larger more solitary fish with good success. This approach can be a lot more hit and miss, and generally involves more quality time spent staring at the screen of your sounder, but the rewards are well worth it.

When fishing the shallower areas, you can either anchor in your chosen area and start a berley trail, or you can fish from a drifting boat with soft plastics and other lures. The snapper in these shallower waters tend to be more grazing orientated, and will typically be in the extreme shallows around first light, and will move slowly deeper as the sun moves higher in the sky. This movement can be lengthened by onshore winds that will generally cause the snapper to hang around for longer, and can be the trigger for great fishing.

My preference when fishing these areas is to set up for a drift of around 500-600m at a time, depending on the strength of the wind and speed of the drift. This gives sufficient time to cover the area thoroughly.

If you are fishing lures with more than one angler on the boat, it pays to try different things until you find the one that works best. And don’t forget to troll a few deep divers around as well while you are on the sounder, especially if you have a downrigger on the boat.

It’s hard to write this column at this time of the year without banging on about snapper for the whole time, but as far as I’m concerned, if you don’t get excited about ‘seeing red’ during summer, then you’re not a true Victorian. A big thanks goes out to all the anglers who have sent reports and photos to me over the last few weeks, even if it does annoy me slightly knowing they are all fishing when I’m working.

It’s fair to say that many anglers aren’t too concerned about other species at the moment, but there are plenty of other options available to anglers. Squid fishing has improved greatly as the water has warmed over the past month, and I have had several reports of the gars being as thick as thieves, even out wide.

Australian salmon have also been around in big numbers as well, but have been moving fairly fast in their search for food.

As we move into the height of summer in the south of the bay, I’m looking forward to taking my wife and kids out for a few sessions while they are on holidays and my little boy Samuel catching his first fish.

I reckon the odds are it will be a squid, but if I’ve got anything to do with it, it will be a bream.

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