A definite spring weather pattern has emerged from a solid, wet winter and all the signs are good for a bumper summer season on the Bay. Already, the south of the Bay is buzzing with excitement about the yearly snapper migration. It seems to come more quickly each year, and as the weather warms and we move towards summer, most of the anglers in the south of the Bay have only one thought on their minds…
Snapper are a great sportfishing target on light tackle and can be positively suicidal at times, making for great fun fishing for all ages. Conversely, they can also be very finicky and certainly reward those anglers who put in the hours on the water to nut them out.
The gun bait is always a hot topic amongst anglers, but fresh bait will always win hands down. Luckily, there is also some first class frozen bait available that is more than worthy of sending down to the depths to tempt a big red.
Coming from the old school, I am a big fan of catching my own bait and I reckon over the years the proof is in the pudding. The upside is that gathering bait can often be as much fun as the big catch, and is a great time to teach the younger and less experienced anglers.
So far, plenty of smaller snapper of 2-4kg are coming from the wider marks, and they are in top condition. Many anglers are reporting that these early fish have very good teeth, and some are being lost on light line – so don’t be afraid to run a shock leader if you’re fishing light. Heaps of fish are being seen on the sounder, which is a great sign of things to come.
The most productive early marks have been wide out from Carrum and Seaford in 18-20m. The two artificial reefs also have plenty of fish, but most are small. Further south, good numbers of school fish have been taken out from Fishermans Beach, and also a few from Mornington Pier.
Local angler John Pederson made the best recent capture, a ripper 5.7kg fish and his biggest for the season so far. John’s snapper was taken wide out from the Patterson River and was landed amongst several other smaller fish.
For those wanting something a little different, there has been plenty of other action in the bottom of the Bay, and much of it has been happening very close to shore. This is a real bonus for those anglers who don’t have a boat and who largely miss out on the silly season in the middle of the Bay.
Big numbers of salmon have been present around many popular land-based spots, particularly during rough weather. Frankston and Mornington piers have been very busy, with most fish between 500g and 1kg. There’s always an exception to the rule however, and there has been a few of the jumbo models around as well, particularly at Mornington and further south from the rocks at Mount Martha and Safety Beach.
The most effective technique in these areas seems to be casting small baitfish profile soft plastics on light threadline tackle. This allows effective delivery of the lure to feeding fish, and is lots of fun as well.
Clear water lately has made the squid a little touchy but smarter fishing will reap rewards, especially in those areas that experience more fishing pressure than others. More and more anglers are using more neutral coloured jigs, which blend better with the weed and bottom growth of the Bay. Up north expect smaller models, but further south around Sorrento there have been some quality specimens, some approaching 3kg, which can be a handful on light gear.
As the Bay warms up toward summer, the flathead fishing will get better and better, especially in the shallower areas. I love chasing flatties on lures in the shallows, and the quality of the fish you will catch make a mockery of the key-ring sized models that love to eat your snapper baits out wide.
Boating anglers could try areas of solid reef near deeper holes and sandy patches. Flathead will respond well to berley, and these areas are also great for pinkies, especially early or later in the day.
Fish the same areas with lures, but cast from a drifting boat. This will allow you to cover more water. Land-based anglers should hunt in the troughs and gutters that run parallel with much of the Bay’s southern coastline. Use big lures and baits to entice a strike.
Reports of whiting have slowed a little lately, but in reality they can be caught all year round in our great Bay. The spring and summer fishing pattern can be a little different as the fish tend to school and feed for briefer periods during the day. They can also be a little bit more discerning toward bait selection and presentation, so attention to detail is important.
Well, get ready for the next few months of craziness in the south of the Bay. I can’t wait for the early morning starts and the general chaos that surrounds every boat ramp and Bay side car park. Let’s hope this great privilege is here for us to enjoy for many years to come.Reads: 1015