As the days gradually lengthen and the water temperature creeps up towards the ‘red’ zone, the scene is set for yet another sensational snapper season on Port Phillip. At this time of year, it’s almost as if all other species cease to exist as local and visiting anglers firmly set their sights on snaring a few reds.
For many years I watched on in awe, foolishly under the impression a large boat and relatively deep water were mandatory requirements when searching for snapper. Admittedly, the vast majority of local anglers tend to fish out wide in depths ranging from say 14-20m of water where many of the larger specimens tend to congregate. At times, however, the shallow inshore reefs also provide some explosive action. I’m talking depths of just 5-7m, and sometimes even skinnier, which is good news for those with smaller tinnies and kayaks.
Any of the reef systems dotted along the western shoreline have the potential to hold snapper and the key to finding them is to first locate the food supply. Baitfish and squid are the primary source of nutrition for snapper in the bay, so the reefs that are known to hold bait are also ideal locations to start searching.
Low light periods at dawn or dusk are preferable, but given the right conditions, snapper will react to a well rigged bait or soft plastic at any time of day. In saying that though, the peak feeding periods generally coincide with a change of tide. The first two hours of the run-out often produce a surge in activity regardless of the time of day.
Snapper also respond well during the initial stages of an incoming tide. Cloudy or overcast skies, coupled with a reasonably stiff breeze, can contribute to more sustained action in the shallows.
When conditions are unsuitable for safe boating, Melbourne’s metropolitan rivers and the nearby stocked Family Fishing Lakes provide a worthy alternative, particularly if the kids are looking for something to do over the third term school holidays.
Michael Felsovary from Hooked on Bait and Tackle reports some serious snapper have been marking up around P2 with fish to 5kg taken very early in the season. Small pilchards or silver whiting rigged un-weighted with your reel in free spool is a proven method at this time of year.
Local land-based anglers perched on the rocks at the northern end of Battery Road have also been among the odd early season red. Ben Moussa and his father Michael managed a cracking 68cm snapper from Point Gellibrand. Ben says the fish took a whole pilchard rigged on two 4/0 hooks late in the evening on a rising tide.
Prior to the recent rain, Ryan Scarborough and Adrian Fernando had been securing bag limit catches of squid from Point Cook. A variety of jigs in green, brown and white were the most productive, particularly in the smaller 2.5 to 3.0 size range.
Similarly, George Gabriel and his father, Con, also found a few squid on the inner western reefs. George says anywhere you can see broken ground in about 5m of water between Altona and Point Cook is worth a look. A few snapper to 45cm have also been showing up in the same area, particularly for those casting soft plastics.
According to Michael Felsovary, some reasonable gummy sharks, from just-legal up to 4.5kg, have been taken on pilchards and fresh squid in 4-6m of water off Werribee South.
Those fishing from the shoreline between the jet ski ramp and the new marina have also picked up the odd gummy on the top of the tide.
Ryan Scarborough says plenty of yellow-eye mullet have been taken on raw chicken in the Maribyrnong River. If it’s a little slow, however, a breadcrumb-based berley is generally all that’s required to get them going.
Some decent bream have been showing up around Footscray Edgewater with live baits, including Bass yabbies and tube worms, producing the goods. Ryan also indicated that a substantial mulloway was landed by a lucky angler fishing under the Afton St Bridge.
Damian Frazzetto finally snared his first bream on a lure while fishing from the beach at Werribee South. Casting a small blade into the main boating channel, Damian managed to coerce two bream of about 30cm in length after they refused his live bait offerings. He also confirmed anglers fishing from the nearby pier and floating jetties have been picking up quite a few bream on bait.
Fisheries Victoria were at it again in the lead up to the September school holidays with plenty of feisty rainbow trout released into the Family Fishing Lakes. Both lure casting and bait fishing can be equally successful in these small waters, although lightly weighted corn kernels are often tough to beat.
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