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Big snapper continue into the new year
  |  First Published: December 2012



There is no doubting that Western Port is certainly the location to fish if you’re in search of a big red this season.

In saying that, there are still some secrets to success to bring you to a hero status. These include using fresh bait, fishing well away from other boats and boat traffic, fishing during the night or early morning and of course fishing shallow. Larger fish are quite solitary and rather than compete for food, they enjoy scavenging and hunting by themselves.

The Corinella area has been producing some magnificent snapper with shallower areas holding the larger versions. Mixed in with the reds, some nice gummy sharks can be caught by those willing to sit in the one location. Neil Boal found out first hand how productive this area has been while fishing near the old prison. Neil was using pilchards for bait when he landed a magnificent 4kg snapper on the top of the high tide.

Brad Harding also found success while fishing with his dad one night. Unfortunately, they didn’t manage any snapper but did catch two cracking gummy sharks with the largest one going 8.5kg. Another brute of a snapper was caught by young Marcus and his grandad when they fished a little South from Corinella. Late in the afternoon, they managed to land an impressive 9.5kg snapper on a squid head.

The well-known Corals mark has been an exceptional location to find snapper and is due to really hot up in the coming weeks. David Jarman headed out and found some pretty hungry snapper not far from the Corals area. Fishing in 6m of water, David and his mate managed some lovely fish using pilchards, squid and barracouta for bait. Generally when the Corals fires, so does Rhyll and Observation Point.

In recent times these two locations have really come on in a big way with many of the local charter fleet heading here to put their clients onto some very memorable fishing. Darren Hamilton Moore had a cracking session fishing in Western Port with his mates. The boys had a blast catching and releasing good numbers of snapper with some cracking models amongst them. The largest fish was a magnificent 7.2kg brute. Most of the fish have ranged in size from a 1-5kg with the average around 3kg. Pilchards and squid have been the most popular baits used with anglers finding fish in 6-13m. Finding the fish on the sounder has been the key to having a successful session.

The Western Entrance has been fishing considerably well with the likes of Buoy 13, 15, 11 and 5 all supporting good schools of snapper. The current runs quite hard along this stretch so heavy sinkers will be required to hold bottom. I am constantly asked by anglers what weight sinkers they should take, my answer: lots.

Depending on the strength of the tide, you will require a range of weights. From the slack tide, you can fish between 12-14oz in the first two hours. During the middle two hours of the tide you may need 16-24oz while the last two hours you can go back to 12-14oz. If your baits are not on the bottom, you won’t catch fish so take a range to ensure your bait is in their domain.

Although snapper and gummy sharks have taken up most of the reports, it is good to see the big breeding calamari have finally arrived into the port. Traditionally, September/October has seen them arrive but this year they have been a little later. Nevertheless they have been welcomed by snapper anglers for use as fresh bait. In saying that, they are delicious and I think I would be eating them rather than using them for bait.

The most productive locations for the larger calamari have been around Mchaffies Reef, Hen and Chickens Reef and Flinders. Anglers can find them from 8-10m of water with size 3.5 artificial jigs working a treat. Brendan Wing fished with his mates Robert Johnstone and Greg Goepel in magnificent conditions and managed a nice bag of calamari with most results falling to the Shimano Sephia 3.5 jig in the 14T colour. There calamari were over the 2kg mark, an impressive catch.

January

While many anglers are still going bonkers over snapper, many have fished themselves to oblivion and are keen to try something new.

If you’re one that’s looking to catching something different then it is time to go in search of whiting. The whiting haven’t stopped, it is just that most anglers have had red fever but I have had a few reports of ting filtering through.

The most popular locations have been the bottom end of the Middle Spit, Tankerton, Tortoise Head, Coronet Bay, Cleeland Bight and Balnarring. A berley trail is essential to bring the fish in with paternoster rigs and pipi baits working a treat. If you notice the whiting a little timid in their biting habits, switch the hooks from circles to size 6 long shanks and strike to set the hooks.

This slight change can be the difference between catching fish and not. If they are aggressively feeding, stick to the circle hooks and leave the rods in the holders. The pressure of the drag will set the hooks for you.

It is a great time of year to be fishing Western Port and with so many options a days fishing can lead to a mixed bag of species.

Personally, I recommend fishing for snapper early in the morning, by lunch you can fish the banks for calamari and catch the afternoon whiting bite on the flats.

With so many fishing options on the Port, which are you going to choose?

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