Quality fishing becomes very reliable
  |  First Published: November 2012

Spring has produced some warm and settled weather on the bay and has definitely provided more enjoyable fishing conditions for anglers of all persuasions.

Even though we have still been receiving plenty of rain and strong winds at times, the quality of the fishing is really starting to fire up, and should be a sign of things to come as we head towards another glorious summer.

In mid-spring, water temperatures along the eastern seaboard were still well below the normal levels for this time of year. This doesn’t seem to be having an adverse effect on the fishing; in fact the reports I am receiving are very encouraging indeed.

Of most interest to the majority of the bays’ boating anglers will be the superb snapper action we are currently experiencing. Normally, any noticeable spike in snapper activity is due in the most part to a rise in water temperature, and also the availability of food. But while I am sitting in front of my computer tapping away at the keys, the water temperature along the eastern side of the bay is still only about 12-14C for the most part.

While it has been true for many years that you can catch snapper right throughout the winter months, the consistency and quality of the fishing currently being experienced from the normal early season marks is very encouraging indeed. Matt Cini from Reel Time Charters has reported that several moves are often needed at the moment to find feeding patches of fish, and that quality fresh pilchards are the standout bait.

Specifically, the 18-20m line from Carrum right through to Frankston has been very productive particularly around areas of structure and reef. Fish behaviour has been varying from day to day, but with water temperatures still being quite low, bite periods will normally be shorter and concentrated around changes in light and tide. Several anglers have also reported that the use of lighter main lines and leaders, and softer rods has produced more hook ups, during tentative bites.

I have also had several reports of some great fishing in similar depths a little further south, from mount Eliza to Mornington, once again on more rocky and reefy areas. The size and quality of the snapper has also been very encouraging with most fishing being in the 4-5kg range, with a few larger specimens thrown in for good measure. The largest snapper I have seen so far is around 7kg, so there’s certainly plenty of good reasons to get out amongst the action at the moment.

Finally, as has been the trend so far, your best bet is to concentrate around the change of tide and light, and by far the best time has been early mornings. Anglers should expect the peak bite period to take place half and hour to an hour either side of sunrise, so it pays to be out on your mark and ready to go well before sunrise. Fresh pillies are the best and most reliable bait, but other soft oily baits like yakkas, tuna fillet, ‘couta and sauries are all worth a try.

Pier and land-based anglers are also getting amongst the reds too, especially during the rougher days, and are also experiencing similar periods of bite times and success. Salmon have also been showing up in sometimes-massive schools during strong onshore blows, and will take a variety of baits and lures. During the calmer days garfish and squid have been a little patchy but both will normally reward persistence, and the former particularly responds well to a little berley.

If snapper aren’t your fish of choice, I’d normally suggest moving out of Victoria for the summer, but there are still plenty of options, and some nice table fish on offer too. Expect whiting to become more prevalent as the weather warms up a bit as they move further north up the bay. Squid numbers will also increase in the shallows as the water warms up, and the salmon and flathead action will be consistent right through the spring into summer.

The bays creeks and rivers will really start to fire in the comings weeks and months as well, as the bream will have completed their spawning activities, and others like mullet will add to the food chain.

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