The great and varied weather conditions that come with this time of year have been very obvious over the past month on the bay. Conditions have varied from picture-perfect to blow the spots off your dog in no time, and sometimes on the same day! This variety tends to produce more concentrated feeding activity by many of the bays target species, which can mean some hectic and fun-filled sessions for anglers.
It’s hard to believe that another silly season is upon us already, but as any angler on the bay knows at this time of year it’s all about snapper. Boat ramps become venues of chaos and congestion, popular piers and land-based platforms are covered with hopeful anglers, and there is a manic buzz that surrounds the bay’s fishers.
Growing up on Westernport, this has always been my favourite time of year, and it’s hard not to get caught up in all the fuss. If you’re a true Victorian, then you can’t help get excited about snapper fishing. And if you don’t like snapper, or snapper fishing, I would seriously consider taking up another sport or hobby for at least the next few months.
Many and varied reports have reached my phone and computer over the past month, which is great to see. And maybe it’s the silly season affecting me again, but there seems to be a lot more boats on the water than I can remember in past seasons. In particular, most consistent reports have been coming from 12-18m of water, especially off Mount Martha and Mornington. Some decent snapper have also been taken in the shallower water, especially a little further north off Frankston, Seaford and Carrum. The size range of snapper reported has also varied a lot from 2-7kg, although the majority have been around 4-5kg.
At this time of year, the reds will tend to hang close to the reef and other structure, and any areas that you can find like this. The use of a steady berley trail of pilchard cubes or another oily alternative is also recommended to bring the snapper to your baits. Along the eastern seaboard, pilchards have definitely been the standout baits, and silver whiting and fresh squid have also accounted for a few nice fish as well.
Spending my days immersed in the fishing industry, it’s always great to hear about new techniques, and I’m looking forward to hearing more about the success of ‘micro jigging’ on our snapper this year. This technique has proven very effective elsewhere in the world, and I have no doubt will be a winner on the bay.
From a light tackle sporting perspective it looks pretty hard to beat, and light tackle is the best way to enjoy catching snapper. I’m also looking forward to trialling some new flexible vibes and other new lures that have hit the market recently. Watch this space for more reports and photos in the months to come.
Still on the snapper, as I mentioned earlier, it has been very encouraging to see consistent numbers of quality snapper being landed by the land-based brigade as well. Darren Mathews has landed several snapper of late, in particular from various rock platforms between Mount Martha and Safety Beach. He has been having most of his recent success on fresh fillet baits of salmon and couta and had great delight re-visiting a session where he landed three lovely fish, all over 5kg in a 2m swell with no net! Not a bad effort.
As the snapper numbers start to really thicken up along our shores, expect the other species to cash in as well.
Some decent flathead have been taken by the bay’s anglers, particularly in depths shallower than 12m. There are several theories on why the size and quality of the bay’s flathead has improved of late, but I tend to agree that many of the smaller and juvenile flatties have probably fallen prey to grazing snapper.
Fishing baits, or casting 3-4 soft plastics from a drifting boat is the best way to compile a very tasty bag of flatties from the bay.
Gummies and other sharks have also been very prevalent, particularly in the deeper areas closer to the shipping channel. I have heard from several anglers that they have been bitten off regularly of late, which may indicate that the snapper this year are packing some serious dentures!
And if all that doesn’t excite you, late spring is prime time to target our bread and butter species in the bay’s creeks and rivers. Patterson River, Kananook and Balcombe creeks are all worth a try around the mouth, particularly after rain.
I took my little terrors for a bream bait fishing session recently and had an absolute ball, landing half a dozen fish in less than an hour, and best of all the kids were stoked. Other species like salmon, mullet and gars will also cash in on all the available food in these areas at this time of year.
Some ripper snapper have been caught by land-based anglers over the past month, especially during or after heavy winds. This 5kg specimen was taken from the rocks at Hearn Rd Mount Martha, by local angler Darren Mathews and it took a fresh couta strip.
It's hard to beat a morning’s bream fishing with the kids, and the bays creeks and rivers have plenty to offer. My two, Summer and Samuel, had a ball recently with their friend James fishing scrub worms in Balcombe Creek.
Massive schools of Australian salmon have been terrorising bait right in close to shore. These two were part of more than 30 fish landed in a manic afternoon session with casting distance of a local boat ramp and gave young Jett Worsteling and his school mate some great after school entertainment. The bigger kids also had a ball!Reads: 846