Summer is always a crazy time of year, and this is nowhere more clearly demonstrated than right here on the shores of Port Phillip.
There’s the sometimes enormous queues at the popular boat ramps when the reds are really going. But the summer buzz around the bay is hard not to get involved in, especially when it comes to snapper fishing, and judging by the reports and photos I have seen, and from my own trips this season, who can blame us for getting a little bit excited.
The vast majority of the bays anglers, especially in this neck of the woods, are still well and truly focused on snapper. And who can blame them? And with water temperatures warming up much later this season than in previous years, I would expect this quality fishing to continue for some time to come yet.
Specifically, large numbers of snapper have been schooling up in 16-18m of water, particularly out from Carrum, Seaford, Mornington and Frankston.
Wider marks and deeper depths have also been productive as well, with a strong emphasis on spending some time on your sounder to locate fish.
These schooling fish also respond well to berley, and will tend to bite frantically for short periods of time, and then may go quiet for a while. Snapper do tend to move fairly fast, and this lull in activity is fairly common.
Keep a steady berley trail going, and the fish will return to your baits.
The most productive and popular all round bait has definitely been pilchards, and these also form the ideal base for your berley as well. Your choice of bait is always a personal one, and I am a big believer in fresh bait, especially squid, and this has been producing well too.
So too has silver whiting, and blood baits like sauries, red rockets and tuna fillet. Salmon fillet is also great bait when used fresh.
Plenty of snapper have also been taken in the shallower marks as well, and these grazing fish are usually a better calibre of fish. Snapper will tend to follow this trend as they look to gain condition before spawning in late summer.
These more solitary nomadic fish are prime early morning and late afternoon bait fishing targets, and are well worth the time, patience and effort, especially if you are chasing a big snapper. Specifically, prime areas over recent times have been 10-12m out from Seaford and Frankston, and 8-12m from Frankston right through to Mornington.
As with locating schooled fish out in the deeper water, it pays to spend some time sounding around to locate fish, and also observe the type of bottom that the snapper prefer. This may indicate scallop beds, patches of broken reef, or mud and weed areas that the fish are using to find food.
Prospecting in these shallower areas also lends itself well to trolling a few hardbodied lures while you are sounding, and can be positively deadly when used in conjunction with a downrigger.
Anglers like Lee Rayner have really refined this technique to great success, but you can do it without a downrigger, some great lures are available that will easily reach 10m plus out of the box on a flat line troll!
Drifting and casting soft plastics is also a very productive technique in the shallower areas, and often will see snapper taken right through the water column. In recent times the shallower marks out from Chelsea right through to Seaford have been productive using soft plastics, especially Gulp 5’ Jerk Shads and similar scented lures.
If you use the right gear, a snapper will really pull the kinks out of your line, and they are a great sportsfish that all of us on the bay are very fortunate to have in such great abundance. Lets hope this great summer snapper fishing is around for many years to come.Reads: 641