All year snapper fishery
  |  First Published: September 2012

The wonders of winter have continued over the past month on the bay with prolonged periods of rain and generally cold and windy conditions prevailing.

Although many local anglers hang the gear up at this time of year, and even keep their boats in lay-away storage, the anglers that have been persisting in the bay have been enjoying some great fishing when conditions allow.

Continuing the pattern for the past couple of months, quality snapper are still on offer out from the wider marks from Mornington and Mount Martha. Opinions are widely divided on their continued presence this year; I believe that some of the migratory population of snapper definitely remain in the bay and continue to feed. The consistency of winter captures seems to substantiate this theory, at least in part. By the time you read these words, the next snapper migration will be just around the corner, so the future looks great for our bay with a 12-month snapper fishery.

Snapper behaviour and their bite reaction also seems to be fairly consistent, with small windows around the change of tide and light being peak times of activity. A lot of fish have been dropped after taking a bait, and have been responding well to a steady stream of berley, and fresh, oily baits. Letting the snapper move off with the bait before striking has also been crucial.

Key water depths still remain in the 19-21m range and, as most of the productive areas at the moment are predominantly mud bottom, most snapper seem to be grazing. Time spent on your sounder to locate fish before setting up is crucial.

The other great fishing from the wider marks has been the presence of some ripper gummy sharks, and other grey-coated critters! In the local areas, gummies will readily take snapper baits and have been reported in top condition. Some rippers well over 15kg have been reported, but most have been 4-8kg.

I’m pretty partial to a feed of flake, and I know I’m not alone. There’s no harm in specifically targeting gummies while looking for a few reds with bigger bait and a beefier leader, there’s every chance you’ll land a monster red as well.

Even though the traditional behaviour of anglers is to look further afield for tuna, trout and other desirables at this time of year, there are still plenty of bread and butter fishing to be had on the bay.

Winter calamari have been a little slow and inconsistent, especially from the local reefs and piers, but have been more prevalent further south around Portsea and Sorrento. The local squid are no doubt capitalising on the mountains of bait out a little wider. Don’t be shy to try reefs a little deeper, even up to 8m or so. Bigger and heavier jigs, and baits can be very effective in these depths.

The good old garfish have been very consistent over the past month. Flat calm days are the best times to get a feed of gar, or to gather some bait for the upcoming snapper season. They are always a little flighty during these conditions, but a steady stream of berley and good bait will keep them on the chew. Maggots, silverfish, peeled prawn and even small fish pieces (especially flathead) are all proven performers. If you’re up for something different, you can even try small soft plastics and flies to good effect, especially when a good stream of berley has been deployed.

Local salmon schools on the other hand, have been enjoying the rougher days along the eastern seaboard. Using these days to smash schools of helpless baitfish taking shelter near piers, rocks, and in the backs of bays. Spinning with small metal slugs and casting soft plastics and hardbodied minnows are all productive, and great fun as well. Unweighted baits can be deadly at times as well, especially when the salmon are around with the gar. It’s always funny watching old mate fishing for gar with 2kg of angry salmon on the end of his float pole!

Sadly, I haven’t been fishing one of my favourite bream fisheries lately, the ‘Patto’. However, I have it from a pretty good source that the fishing has been a bit hit and miss. Over winter, the entire system has been consistently dirty, so most of the bream seem to be feeding away from structure. Most effective methods have been bait fishing through the main river system, and fishing soft plastics and small vibes in the middle of the canal areas.

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