Snapper big and small!
  |  First Published: July 2008

The cold and very fresh conditions of winter have definitely rolled in, and will be here to stay for the next couple of months. Happily the south of the Bay turns on some superb fishing conditions at this time of year. All you need to do is dress sensibly, pack the thermos and be prepared to play the waiting game a little longer at times.

In June, the southern shores have been flat almost every evening and morning. I know I’m not the only one who hates driving to work along the Bay and seeing absolute blue ribbon boating and fishing conditions without being able to have a crack. The water is also very clear and clean, making shallow water sight fishing a real option.


Traditionally, bigger snapper are much harder to find in July than during the yearly spawning migration, but believe me they are still there. The best recent reports are still from out wide of Mornington in about 21m of water, where snapper are being caught on fresh baits of squid, garfish or tuna fillet. Most of the larger fish taken have been around 4-6kg and are great sport and superb eating this time of year. Anglers Tom and Steve presented some ripper fish to Trev Hogan’s scales at Launching Way recently, and no doubt had a few mobile phones ringing in the local area.

Just like last year, there has also been plenty of small gummies around the same areas, as well as further south. These fish will take most of the popular snapper baits.

Fresh bait is the real key to success with big snapper at this time of year, as well as concentrating on tides and bottom structure. In winter reds are less nomadic than during the summer and will hold in areas for longer, so persistence and patience normally reap rewards.


There’s never any shortage of pinkies during the winter on the inshore reefs, especially during the superb water conditions and clarity we are currently experiencing. Low light is even more important when the water is clear, so get out there early or stay out late. Craig from Victorian Sport Fishing Adventures has been putting plenty of clients onto pinkies of around 1kg on the southern reefs, and on light spinning gear they are a lot of fun. Berkley 3-4” plastics are a real standout on pinkies, and account for the bulk of fish taken.


The lack of substantial rain and the very clear water has made for awesome sight fishing for squid, but has also made them a little cagey at times. There’s no doubting the popularity of our humble calamari during the winter months, and with the boxes they tick in the eating and quality bait department, who can blame us.

Obviously, less busy times are best when you are visiting the more popular land-based locations like Portsea, Sorrento or Mornington. Out in the boat, I have found it works wonders to use ultra light fluorocarbon line and natural coloured jigs. Throwing $35 squid jigs into the reef on 2lb line might not sound like a great idea, but let me tell you it works more times than it doesn’t.


I have been sooking a bit lately because I haven’t had a salmon fix for a long time, but the schools are about in huge numbers, especially at The Rip and surrounding areas. Talking to some of the more clued in anglers, they reckon they key is finding the right sized bait that the salmon are feeding on. This can change from time to time, but usually stays pretty stable.

Also, the use of a good quality depth sounder will help locate the schools after they’ve been spooked by dolphins, seals or some clown trolling right through the middle with a dazed look on his face. My Side Imaging Humminbird is a real bonus in this situation, because it allows me to scan up to 70m either side of the boat. Look out salmon, I’m coming!

Typically, most of the salmon right down south are averaging 2kg, with some much bigger ones mixed in. From Frankston to Mount Martha they have been a little smaller, at around 1kg average. Most reliable casting and trolling techniques will work, but like I mentioned earlier, once you find the bait the fish are zoned in on, try and match it as closely as possible.


The breaming goes a little quiet this time of year down in our neck of the woods, especially when the water is very clean. I have had reports of a few mulloway taken recently by anglers casting lures at the mouth of the Patterson River, which is pretty consistent for this time of year. Interestingly, I watched a school of squid in the river the other night, so no wonder the jewies are about.

Don’t let the short days and cold starts deter you from a day on the Bay over the next month. I’m here to tell you that a trip to your favourite spot is well worth the effort.

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