Time to focus on bream and big winter snapper
  |  First Published: June 2013

After a long, dry and very hot summer, and what was also an exceptionally mild autumn, it comes as a big surprise when the big switch is flicked and the cold weather rolls into town.

Personally, I love this time of year on the bay, and although your angling opportunities and windows of opportunity can be limited, the rewards seem that much better when a little bit more effort and commitment is involved. And as an added bonus, the pressure on certain locations and numbers of anglers on the water is generally lower.

Part of the reason there has been far less boat traffic on Port Phillip this month has been the awesome start to the SBT season out from Portland and Port Fairy. Many of the bays summertime snapper anglers and larger trailer boat owners head west to try their hands at the mighty bluefin, and who can blame them?

For those that have stayed on home soil, there are still some quality snapper being taken, particularly around the Mount Martha area in 19-21m. These late season snapper tend to be quite methodical feeders, and seem to congregate in the wide expanses of mud bottom flats in this area every year. Whether they are looking to put on condition before they leave, or have just entered the bay is open to debate, but who cares! The bulk of the snapper reported at the moment have been consistently 5-7kg in size and are in great condition.

Anglers have reported that the snapper have been responding well to a wide variety of baits, especially pilchards and other oily baits, and a good steady stream of pilchard cubes is also essential for success. It’s also very important to mention that time spent on your sounder to locate good numbers of feeding fish is crucial, before dropping your anchor and starting the berley trail. Also remember to keep rotating and working your baits, and try to use lighter line for better bait presentation and sport: 4-5kg line is plenty.

For a change of pace there have also been some monstrous schools of salmon working along the eastern seaboard in recent times as well. Although they can be a little frustrating to follow at times, they provide great sport on cast or trolled lures and plastics. Areas of special interest are Oliver’s Hill, Sunnyside and Ansetts. Best bet is to keep your eye on birds working in close to locate the school, then try to keep your distance from them to avoid sending them down deep.

The humble calamari have still continued to provide anglers with some great bags over the past month, and the average size has also improved as the water temperature has cooled. I have noticed that many of the bigger females have been carrying large numbers of eggs at the moment, so it’s a good practice to return these breeders back to the water unharmed so they can do their thing and make more little calamari for us all to catch! The most productive areas of late have been Canadian Bay, Pelican Point, Ansetts and Sunnyside and the close inshore reefs off the Mount Eliza cliffs. Oliver’s Hill and Frankston Beach reefs are all worth lobbing a few jigs at as well.

Many anglers have also sent reports in of some great cuttlefish showing up as well, which is a great sign. With the cycles and patterns of the last 12 months or so, who knows what might happen, but I would expect inshore these inshore areas to start producing a lot more smaller pinkies, barracouta and other surprises as we move into the middle of winter, so stay tuned for more details over the coming months.

The quality of the bream fishing of late right throughout the state has been exceptional in recent times, and the mighty Patto has produced some ripper bream, and other species like mullet and salmon over the last month. Bait and lure anglers have reported several bream over 1kg, as well as some big old blue nose specimens even larger. At the time of writing, the water in the canals and the river remains clear, but will dirty quickly after rain. Don’t be put off by dirty water; this sometimes produces the best fishing. The most productive baits have been freshwater yabbies and scrub worms, and small crank baits and sinking stick minnows have been the choice for the lure brigade.

Another great report hot off the press, sent to me by local angler Stuart Caruthers was of the recent capture of numerous mulloway in the Patto lakes system. You may remember Stu’s 75cm jewie from last year; his recent fish came from the same spot, and on the same lure, a 40mm stick minnow. Stu also managed a few nice bream as well.

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