Western Port sure turned it on in September with some very good catches to get the ball rolling for the snapper season. Though there weren’t massive numbers of snapper caught, the ones that did hit the decks were of high quality.
Chris Aarts took one fish of 6.2kg while fishing off Stony Point. It proved to be a good reason to be on the water braving the chilly conditions.
Other reported catches were centred on the Long Reef area near Lysaughts. This location is a known as an early season mark and once again proved a good location to begin the search for reds.
Late in the month there was an influx of pinkie snapper along the shallows between Stony Point and the Hastings Channel. These guys ranged from 30cm to a whopping 4kg and took a range of baits fished back in a berley trail.
The big hit of the month was the consistent catches of King George whiting. Since the netting has ceased, Western Port could almost be regarded as having a year round fishery, rather than an annual migration.
Good numbers of fish have been taken off the Tortoise Head Bank. Tankerton is another location worth a visit, as I found out fishing with mate Ben Mullens. We caught our bag fishing the first two hours of the run-in tide. Mussel and pipis baits proved to be the most productive, but a few fish still took tenderised calamari tentacles.
In addition to snapper and whiting, some anglers can’t resist a tasty feed of fresh calamari. I heard one report of anglers repeatedly catching their bag of calamari to 2kg from the Quail Bank. Ron Smith, who took some time away from catching gummy sharks, had some very successful trips on the Quail Bank. He reported good numbers of squid to 2kg falling to silver whiting fished on a baited prong.
One location not fished by many calamari anglers is Sandstone Island, which is home to a good population of squid as Andrew Burdette found out. He managed a great calamari of 2kg. Again, a bait of silver whiting under a float proved to be a winner.
Known for its regular catches of big calamari, the Flinders Pier has been extremely consistent throughout September, with many squid around 2kg being caught. I headed down one Friday night after work with Brad, Clint and Gawaine. Although we had to fish the bottom of a low, low tide, we did manage one calamari of 1.3kg on a silver whiting.
Local anglers on the pier that night told me that the high tide during the day was the time to fish on the pier, with a dozen or so anglers each catching a few quality squid using the same baited prong technique.
What took me by surprise was just how good the fishing has been at the Warneet Pier. Last year it was the place to wet a line for the land-based brigade, and this season is looking to be just as productive.
Young gun, Thomas Pinter, fished from the pier one Friday evening. He flicked around some soft plastics and caught good numbers of pike to 54cm. He also managed a few calamari using orange coloured squid jigs and silver whiting under a float.
By now many anglers would have successfully have a few reds under their belt, but as we jump into November many are going to be left dealing with the mayhem of snapper fever.
November is more like fishing in a trout farm for some. When the water temperature hits the desired feeding range, reds from all over begin to chew as if they are piranhas.
For those heading out in the Port, try locations such as Buoy 7, 10 and 12. These Buoys have some amazing reef structure beneath them and snapper schools congregate in these areas. McHaffies Reef is another location that shouldn’t be missed, especially in about 12m of water amongst the reef.
Pilchards, red rockets or Californian squid threaded on running sinker rigs work really well, but Snapper Snatchers are also a great way to get to the bottom. The best fishing will be two hours either side of the tide. This will enable you to fish with less sinker weight in the current.
Another known snapper location is The Corals out from Rhyll. The current isn’t too strong here, enabling you to use only 4-5oz of lead to hold bottom. Anglers fishing here should set a berley trail to attract the fish. If you do, make sure you have all your knots and rigs 100%, there have been some massive mulloway and gummy sharks taken in the area – and you don’t want to lose a prized catch due to inadequate tackle.
When using a running sinker rig for snapper or gummy sharks, rather than putting your sinker directly to the Ezy-rig, tie a loop into the end of a 30cm length of 8-10lb leader and attach a sinker to the other end. The loop in the leader can then be placed onto the Ezi-rig and cast out.
In the event that you get snagged, the light leader will break and save losing your entire rig. It is also a benefit if you hook a large fish: the leader can break away and you can fight free of any sinker weight. Though it can be costly in sinkers, it is a very effective way to fish.
If you’d like any information regarding fishing Western Port, drop into Tackle World Cranbourne, 270 South Gippsland Highway, Cranbourne and see one of our knowledgeable staff, or call on 5996 6500.
SNAPPER GPS MARKS TO START AT
Lysaughts: S38 17 352 E145 14 915
Stony Point: S38 23 697 E145 14 505
Crawfish Rock: S38 16 165 E145 17 533