As yet another sensational snapper season gradually begins to taper off, there’s still plenty to get excited about across western Port Phillip during the Christmas holidays.
For those yet to get their fix of snapper, areas such as Williamstown, Altona, Fawkner Beacon and Point Cook were firing in the lead up to summer, particularly in depths of 17-21m of water. In closer, pinkies to 2kg are often willing to intercept soft plastics during periods of low light, while some sizeable flathead and snook are likely to be on the prowl over the coming month.
Whiting will be at the forefront of many anglers mind during January. A good berley trail should attract plenty of garfish, while Australian salmon are also expected to start schooling up around the top end of the bay if they haven’t already.
Andre Lindsey from Melbourne Fishing Charters says there’s been an incredible run of snapper across the northern section of Port Phillip Bay this season. Fishing near the Dumper Mark off Altona, Andre put a group of anglers onto almost 30 snapper one morning, of which more than half weighed in at 4kg plus.
Matt Cini from Reel Time Fishing Charters suggests that in terms of numbers, this season has produced the best snapper fishing for as long as he can remember. Matt says that marking fish on the sounder before setting the anchor is the key to success, along with a liberal supply of berley.
Another good tip is to give your chosen spot at least 45 minutes before making a move. Fishing for snapper prior to a major drop in barometric pressure or during a rising barometer generally results in the hottest bite. Pilchards and silver whiting have been the baits of choice, although the fish haven’t been all that fussy of late.
Fab Peda from Saltwater Fishing Charters indicated that snapper have been feeding heavily along western edge of transit lane in 16-18m of water. Directly out from Point Gellibrand and west of the mark known as Deadman’s stick at Altona has been particularly productive. More recently, pinkies averaging up to 2.5kg have moved over the inner reefs with cut pilchards producing a better hook up rate on the smaller fish.
After some trial and error early, Sadik Cagdas sounded up a large school of snapper along the 16m line, just north of Fawkner Beacon. The action was almost immediate with more than half a dozen fish to 6kg taken on pilchards and silver whiting within an hour, and at least that many hooked and lost by his crew.
Stuart Carmichael and his father, Rob, found snapper to 5kg in 15m of water along the western edge of the shipping channel near Fawkner Beacon. Pilchards rigged on 5/0 snapper snatchers did the damage on the reds and also accounted for a 55cm flathead.
Also fishing the western flank of the transit lane, Kevin Warwick and his mate Bill managed to put their sons, Tom and Jack, onto a few reds. After sounding up a large school about 2km south of Fawkner Beacon, the boys went on to land eight snapper to 3.8kg, the largest of which was a personal best for young Tom.
Tony Meletis headed out in search of big snapper along the inner reefs at Altona where he managed three fish to 6.5kg, again taken on pilchards and silver whiting. He also caught plenty of garfish, yellowtail scad and slimy mackerel on baited Sabiki rigs.
Nick Vasiljevic and his brother, Justin, managed 40 garfish between them while fishing from the rocks at Williamstown Beach. Returning the following day, the boys took another good bag of gars, as well as a few luderick and a leather jacket.
Snapper have been taken out wide from Point Cook, while pinkies to 2kg and a few reasonable flathead are also available on the inshore reefs. Mario Saliba caught half dozen squid drifting the shallows, but he was somewhat disappointed with their lack of size.
As the New Year rolls around, King George whiting will become the primary target species in the west. Fresh mussel is the most productive bait, followed closely by pipi and small pieces of fresh squid. Once you’ve located a few fish, the use of berley, be it chook pellets, minced fish scraps or empty mussel shells, helps to keep the school close to the boat. The most consistent action generally occurs in 3-4m of water in areas that offer a mixture of sand, reef and rubble.
Ryan Scarborough reports that the Maribyrnong River is fishing reasonably well with freshwater yabbies accounting for most of the bream since the late spring rains.
Docklands also continues to produce bream for those fishing with fresh mussel presented alongside the older jetty pylons and beneath the floating pontoons.
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After a series of moves, Sadik Cagdas sounded up a large school of snapper just north of Fawkner Beacon and the action was almost immediate.
Rob Carmichael found snapper to 5kg in 15m of water along the western edge of the main shipping channel.
Many of the local charter crews and their clients have enjoyed yet another sensational snapper season.
Melbourne Fishing Charters recorded a monster haul of almost 30 snapper, of which more than half weighed in at 4kg plus.
Garfish should continue to provide entertainment for both land-based and boating anglers alike over the summer months.Reads: 2539