Its official, the snapper are here and firing in the west! Typically, the red tide can take a little longer to arrive on this side of the bay, but once into late October and November, it really comes with a rush. So, whether you’re a complete novice, a casual weekender or a more accomplished angler with years of experience, now is the time to be on the water.
For some time now, huge schools of whitebait have been holding up at the entrance to the Yarra River, where equally abundant Australian salmon have been cashing in on the free feed. This is a prime target area to pick up a larger than average snapper and, in recent years, reds 6kg+ have been taken within reasonably close proximity to the piers at Port Melbourne and Williamstown.
Snapper can also be found pressing bait right up against the breakwall, which borders and protects the nearby shipping yard. Isolated patches of rock and rubble through to the football ground reef produce snapper, particularly during an onshore southerly blow.
When searching for reds in these shallow water environments, try to avoid the temptation of flocking to a congregation of boats where the fish are likely to be on high alert. Nothing shuts down a shallow snapper bite faster than several boats zipping around overhead and a procession of carelessly deployed anchors crashing to the bottom. If at all possible, try to make a stealthy approach and avoid driving directly over the area you intend to fish.
Out wider, Matthew Petts went searching for his first snapper of the season and came across some positive signs on the sounder in 18m water off Altona. Three arches clumped relatively close together low in the water column prompted Matt to deploy the anchor and set a spread of baits. Just on high tide the first rod buckled over, but unfortunately the hooks missed the mark. No more than just 30 seconds later, a second rod baited with fresh squid folded and Matt was into to a solid 4kg red. A nice way to get the season underway!
Brothers, Steven and David Puopolo also enjoyed a good start to the season, highlighted by a frantic four-way hook up. According to Steve, the bite came an hour prior to a mid-morning high tide change while anchored over the spoil grounds. As it turned out, two of the four fish hooked were lost, but it no doubt got the juices flowing for the boys early in the season.
Snapper and flathead will be the key target species for those prospecting the Point Cook region this month. Both soft plastics and various fish baits, including pilchards and silver whiting, will be well worth a try as snapper temporarily take up residence on the shallow rock bommies.
Fishing on the drift is also likely to produce some good eating size flathead as they begin to feed more aggressively across the inner western reefs and weed beds.
Over at Point Wilson, Australian salmon have been on the chew throughout the outer harbour region of Corio Bay. Most have been averaging less than 1kg, though the odd larger specimen can be expected, particularly as they feed up on the abundant whitebait.
Don’t forget to try sinking a soft plastic down below the salmon schools in search of a snapper, which quite often lurk beneath the feeding frenzy. Flathead are another species you’re likely to encounter in this fashion.
Although the Yarra River has been fairly dirty of late, cleaner water from the bay has been pushing in below on the higher tides and with it some serious snapper have entered the system.
Although most anglers have been keeping fairly tight-lipped about their recent success, reds 2kg+ have been taken downstream of the West Gate Bridge. The western side of the river from the Warmies through to the Science Works Jetty has been the hot spot for shore-based anglers casting pilchards towards the edge of the shipping lane.
As the water temperature gradually increases leading into late spring and summer, the resident bream can be expected to start moving up on to the edges. Prospecting various forms of artificial structure, including rock walls, bridge pylons and floating pontoons, with diving minnows and vibration style lipless cranks is the go, particularly nearer the top of the tide.
Toby McClure took sometime out recently to reacquaint him-self with the local bream population. Fishing alongside Michael O’Toole, several bream to 35cm (measured to the fork of the tail) were accounted for on small vibes and stick minnows. A week later, Toby and his girlfriend, Carli Taylor, were back on the Maribyrnong River, hoping to repeat the process. Once again, plenty of quality urban bream were found holding hard up against artificial structure. There were even a few opportunities to sight cast at fish in the clearer sections of the river at high tide.
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Regardless of whether you’re into soaking baits or tossing plastics, November is the prime time to be on the water searching for snapper. Barry Hudgell set a new personal best record with a 7.5kg specimen during his first trip of the season.
Kicking off the season in style, Matthew Petts managed this 4kg red in 18m of water off Altona.
A frantic four-way hook up, two of which fish were dropped. It resulted in David Puopolo’s first snapper for the season.
Prospecting the inner reefs will be high on the agenda for soft plastic enthusiasts this month. Brad Hodges tempted several pinkie snapper to 2kg on Gulp! Turtle Back Worms.
Carli Taylor secured these fine urban bream during a productive lure casting session on the Maribyrnong River. As the water temperature increases leading into late spring and summer, more bream of this calibre can be expected to move up on to the edges.Reads: 665