Settling conditions for anglers
  |  First Published: October 2012

The arrival of spring has changed many of the surrounding foliage and vegetation around the bay; unfortunately it has not done anything to stop the wind from blowing. Nevertheless, the long range forecast seems to suggest that we will be in for some more settled weather conditions over coming months, which will come as a major relief for anglers.

Getting back to the consistent wind, I cannot recall such a long and prolonged period of onshore winds on the eastern side of the bay. All along the central eastern side of the bay, we have been hammered all winter and into early spring with strong westerly and northwesterly air streams.

The main positive, apart from the local sales of jackets and beanies, is that the food chain should get a real boost along our shores through spring and into early summer. Hopefully this results in some top early season snapper fishing on the inshore reefs as many anglers are predicting.

Even though fishing conditions have been less that comfortable for the most part, dedicated anglers that have been prepared to rug up, have been reaping the rewards. Especially those having a crack from the local piers and land-based locations.

We have enjoyed very consistent snapper fishing right through the winter months this year, which has bought snapper back onto the target list of many pier anglers. In particular during rougher weather when the snapper will venture in closer.

Wider areas out from Mornington right through to Frankston have been the most productive for patient boaters, using quality bait and berley. The same goes for anglers trying their luck from Frankston and Mornington piers, and from various rock platforms during strong onshore winds. Most of the snapper taken recently have been between 2-4kg with a few bigger and better models thrown in for good measure.

The pattern has continued further north as well, with some ripper fish being taken for Mordialloc pier. The best bit for all anglers is you don’t need a boat to consistently catch a snapper; it’s more a matter of fishing at the right time. Strong westerly winds are best, especially if the pattern has been the same for a few days. Quality surf tackle is preferred by many anglers, and don’t forget a long handled gaff or net.

The piers and land-based platforms have also been producing the usual standby species as well like mullet, salmon, squid and flathead. Gars have also been the target for many anglers, particularly further south in the bay, but the best conditions are certainly when the winds and waves are at a minimum, and these days have been few and far between over the past month. When all the ducks do get in a row however, the action is fast and furious, and it can be a great time to collect some quality fresh bait for the snapper season ahead.

Getting back to the snapper fishing for the boaters, it’s worth noting that Matt Cini from Reel Time charters recently made a point of mentioning that the use of lighter rods and fishing close to structure was the key to snapper success at the moment.

This advice is right to the point and a good general approach for this time of year. I would also advise anglers to use a wide variety of fresh baits, and even be prepared to put in the time to gather quality offerings like salmon or flathead fillet. Alternatively, buy some top quality frozen bait and put in the time to lay a decent berley trail.

With the upcoming school holidays, the onset of some great fishing and some better weather couldn’t have come at a better time, and I reckon there’s no better sport to get your kids into early than fishing. I’ve got my old man to thank for my fishing obsession, and I know I’m not the only one. What I have learnt with fishing with my own kids is how important it is to be prepared, and plan your fishing activities with them. Not only do they like to catch a few, but also they love all the set-up and collection of gear, so get them involved in the whole process.

Spring is a great time for kids to catch a few fish as well, not only have the snapper started to arrive in the bay, but there are plenty of other options for a day’s fishing. And you don’t need to have all the flash gear to have success. Expect the next month or so to produce consistent fishing for bream, mullet and salmon in the Patterson River, and the squid will really begin to fire up along the inshore reefs as the water warms up. The whiting should start to show up in more numbers, along with the snapper as the water temperature increases.

In winter I sometimes forget how lucky we are to live on PPB, especially when I go to Queensland every winter, but as the old saying goes, there’s no place like home.

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