Snapper still on the agenda and mulloway about
  |  First Published: July 2013

The substantial and constant rain we received over the last month in the bay has settled over recent times and provided some superb fishing conditions for many anglers in the bay.

While the weather will remain cold for some time to come, calm and clear days offer comfortable boating along the inshore reefs and marks right along the eastern seaboard. Don’t be put off by the strong onshore blows when they come, as they will often provide the best fishing of all.

It’s pleasing to see that many anglers are still trying their luck for snapper in the bay, and some great reports have reached my email over the past month. Although the numbers of fish are not what they normally are during the spawning migration, the size and table quality of the winter snapper is generally better. These fish also tend to put up a good show for themselves as well, particularly on lighter tackle.

The key to success at the moment on the snapper is to spend time on your sounder and locate some good numbers of fish, and also the use of fresh, quality bait. Most recent reports have been in the 18-20m marks, especially out from Mornington and Mount Martha. Fresh baits of squid and salmon have both been successful, particularly those caught immediately in the area before dropping the anchor. Local angler, and deckie for Reel Time Charters, Ned Dragojevic sent in a great pic of a lovely 2.8kg snapper that took a liking to a fresh salmon head that was pulled from a school of busting fish just prior. Ned also reported having a couple of other runs from bigger fish, but failed to land these fish.

Snapper have been visiting the extreme shoreline reefs during strong westerly winds, particularly around Mornington Pier. The world of social media has been alive with photos of some great snapper up to 6kg that have been landed by some keen land-based anglers over the past few weeks.

During these onshore blows conditions are less that comfortable, and often very wet, but the chance of landing a nice red from the pier is definitely high. Just like out wide, fresh and good quality bait is the key, so your best bet is to catch your baits of squid, salmon, couta and gars from the pier itself and present it out in the mix straight away.

More exciting news for the land-based fishos out there has also just arrived of some thick numbers of small school mulloway feeding around the bridges in the Patterson Lakes at night. The peak time at the moment seems to be the change of tide, and the hectic and often noisy surface activity is seeing anglers landing plenty of jewies on a variety of baits and lures. These fish have been predominantly feeding on schools of juvenile salmon and mullet, and have been using the lights from the bridge to ambush their prey.

It’s worth noting that there have also been several mulloway caught that have been well below the legal size of 60cm, and that any undersize fish, whatever the species must be returned to the water unharmed. Don’t be put off by the presence of these smaller mulloway, particularly if you are fishing live baits, as the big monster that we all love to catch won’t be far away.

The Patterson River has also been providing plenty of good bait fishing opportunities for bread and butter species like mullet and salmon right along the river, as well as some ripper action for anglers spinning the river mouth for the feeding salmon. Bream in the canals have moved into a winter pattern now, and although you won’t catch as many fish as during the warmer months, the ones that you do fool will generally be bigger and better quality fish.

Squid fishing right along the eastern shoreline continues to impress, with some better quality calamari beginning to prevail in some key areas, particularly around the Frankston and Mount Martha areas. I have also found that squid of late have shown a preference for darker coloured jigs like black, brown and red giving the best results, particularly in low light.

Big schools of salmon have also been carving up the local bait population right along the eastern shoreline, so now’s a great time to gather some quality baits, or just have some fun. If you’re into your lure fishing, or even saltwater fly, it’s hard to go past a session on the humble salmon, and if you’re lucky enough to find a school of the bigger 2-3kg models, then you’re in for a shed load of fun.

Remember to try and stay as far away from a feeding school of fish as possible to avoid putting them down, and if you’ve got a Minn Kota on your boat, you can follow them around for hours on end!

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