After a somewhat sluggish start in the west, the red tide is now flowing full and fast.
The warmer weather in mid spring really kicked the snapper into gear with many anglers cashing in on the action. Snapper to 5kg plus have been turning up out wide from Williamstown, Altona and Werribee South, while the inner reefs are still producing plenty of pinkies to 2kg, as well as the odd larger specimen, for those casting soft plastics on the drift.
Continuing with the skinny water snapper theme from last month, I caught up with local kayak enthusiast, Richard Linossi, who shared some insight into prospecting the shallower regions of Port Phillip. In terms of depth and structure, Richard generally concentrates his efforts in 4-10m of water, using his sounder to locate the drop-offs and protruding reef that hold bait, which in turn attracts larger predators.
Any of the northern reefs have the potential to hold snapper, but the stretch from Beaumaris through to Black Rock is particularly productive. The shallow reef directly out from Williamstown Football Ground is another popular spot for kayakers, as is the rubbly ground between the boat ramp and Millers Road in Altona. Moving further west, the sheltered waters of Corio Bay also offer kayakers a multitude of options.
Richard says early morning or late afternoon sessions that coincide with a high tide change provide the best chance of tangling with a larger than average inshore red.
“I find the last hour of the rising tide and first two hours of the run off to be the most productive.”
He also mentioned the importance of barometric pressure. “If you can match this with a rising barometer, somewhere up around the 1020-1030Hpa mark, then you should be in for a good session.”
Stealth is the key when hunting shallow snapper and this is where pedal or paddle powered kayaks are a huge advantage over boats and outboard engines.
“Being able to slowly troll lures or drift live baits over shallow reefs without spooking the fish can produce some big snapper at this time of year.”
While Richard generally prefers to cast lures and soft plastics, his favourite baits include live squid and garfish, rigged on two snelled 6/0 hooks or a single 4/0 circle hook respectively. Alternatively, fresh squid cut into rings or half a fresh garfish are his next best options. When casting soft plastics, Richard generally reverts to Squidgy Flick-Baits or Lobby’s presented on 3.5g jig-heads and a 2/0 hook.
Joe Bonnici emailed through a photograph of his son, Thomas, with a 2.9kg snapper taken on pilchard from P2. This was Tom’s first ever snapper! Joe says plenty of bait and quite a few snapper have been marking up on the sounder. Getting them to bite proved a little challenging, although Joe’s mate, Dave, did manage to coerce a 6kg specimen the day before.
Shurane Krishnan kick started his snapper season with a ripper 4kg plus red taken from the pier at Mordialloc. A butterflied fresh salmon fillet did the trick for Shurane, while his mate, Jess managed a 5.5kg snapper on a whole cuttlefish earlier in the day.
Also hoping to find an early season red, Ben Laverty skipped out from Williamstown where he hooked up third cast of the morning. Casting a Gulp Turtleback Worm rigged on a 1/8 Rev Head jig, jubilation soon turned to frustration when the hook pulled mid-way through the battle. On closer inspection, the hook shank had actually bent. Based on the power of the headshakes, Ben estimates the culprit to have been in the 3kg plus class. From there it was tough going for much of the morning, though plenty of juvenile salmon provided some entertainment in the absence of snapper on this occasion.
POINT COOK TO POINT WILSON
Youngsters Harrison Gibson and Brad Kemp, were among those to snare a few Werribee South flathead recently. According to Harrison, flatties to 47cm were taken on cut pilchards while drifting in just 4m of water off Duncan’s Road.
Further around at Point Wilson, soft plastics have been producing some good eating size flatties to 49cm throughout Corio Bay outer harbour. Flathead will become more active right across the shallow western flats as the water temperature continues to rise in the lead up to summer.
Reports from the metropolitan rivers have been few and far between in recent weeks, though there are still quite a few bream up for grabs for those fishing the lower reaches of the Werribee River. Live tube worms and Bass yabbies have accounted for some solid fish from the beach and jetties at Werribee South. Expect these fish, as well as their cousins up in Melbourne, to start responding more aggressively to lures and soft plastics as the water warms over the coming months.
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