Still some snapper, but squid a sure bet
  |  First Published: April 2013

The hot and dry conditions we experienced in summer have eased.

Although the peninsula enjoys a welcome sea breeze in the afternoon more often than not, some very hot and still days, and nights did make conditions less than comfortable for many. Easy to cope with when you are fishing, not so easy when you’re trying to catch some sleep. Although, at the time of writing we have received some welcome rain, we could do with a fair chunk more to give the bays food chain a boost once again.

Although many anglers have turned their attention to fishing Western Port, and further afield for other freshwater and blue water species, I am still getting very consistent snapper reports coming through. Most of them have been from wider marks out from Mornington and Mount Martha, as well as a few further south towards Dromana. Pilchards and other fish baits like yakka’s and also salmon fillet have been getting it done for the boys chasing the reds. Pre rigged set-ups like snapper snatchers have also been very effective, and are a great way to get the kids or less experienced anglers onto a few fish. They will also account for their fair share of by catch as well.

I would expect we will have a solid run of post-spawn snapper this season, particularly after the water temperature cools and the snapper look to put on condition for their journey back into Bass Strait. The expansive mud areas around Safety Beach, Mornington and Mount Eliza are normally very productive at these times, although bite times tend to be shorter, and more confined to changes in the tide, but the effort is worth it as the snapper are normally in top condition and put on a good account for themselves. And with the amount of prime baits on offer at the moment, now’s a good time to stock up and get ready.

For those anglers who have chosen to stay on their home turf and target whiting this season, they have not been disappointed. I have had several reports of some ripper whiting coming from various locations in the bay, but in particular Canadian Bay, Wooleys Reef and Fishermans Beach right along to Safety Beach have all been producing some nice whiting. Some nice fish up the good old 40cm mark have also been taken be anglers of late fishing from the rocks at Mount Martha, close to Bradford Road

They key to success is twofold. Firstly, use quality fresh bait, especially mussels, pipis, squid and Bass yabbies. Secondly, concentrate your efforts around low light, especially closer to dusk. This is particularly important when fishing land based, as the whiting will come right in close to feed closer to dark. Of equal importance is the structure and terrain your are fishing, try to be as close to reef and weed patches as possible, as these are the prime areas to nail a few whiting.

The squid fishing still continues to go gangbusters, and if there is one species that shows the true health of the bay it’s got to be the humble calamari. They seem to be in unlimited supply at times, and their numbers can be positively ridiculous in some areas. It’s worth noting however that it is important to stick to your bag limit, and also returned small juvenile squid to the water unharmed, if they are not required for baits or the table. Of late, I have found that orange and brown jigs have been the most productive, particularly when the water has been a little clearer and the squid a little flighty.

Some of the usual haunts have been particularly productive for squid of late, especially Mornington Pier, although many of the squid are key ring sized, but there are a few bigger models around. The size of the squid seems to increase as you travel further south, but you can still tangle with plenty of kilo models locally, just need to work a little harder for them.

Bream reports have also been thick this month, which is not always pleasing when work or tournament commitments keep me from sneaking out into Patterson Lakes. Of special note has been the amount of bream caught by anglers fishing open reef areas in the bay, definitely something that needs more investigation.

Plenty of Australian salmon have also been reported along most of the usual spots, in particular there has been a pack of big salmon hunting between Snapper and Linley points in Mornington for the past month or so. They are well worth the effort too with time spent on the sounder, or trolling lures to find them if they are not visible on the surface. They have been caught around the 3kg mark, and salmon of this size really pull the kinks out of your line.

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