Snapper fever brings out the bad boat manners
  |  First Published: December 2013

We have been plagued by windy weather so it’s been difficult to get a line in on the surf beaches.

But in between bouts of gale force winds the Australian salmon are still about in good numbers on all the beaches and interestingly larger surf poppers have been accounting for bigger fish.

San Remo Area

Below the bridge, calamari are about in good numbers in Cleelands Bight but there have been a lot of ‘couta about. Western Port is full of couta at the moment so those expensive jigs won’t last too long because ‘couta love anything flashy.

Above the bridge the snapper have moved in big time! They are all over the bay at the moment and there are some big schools with big fish mixed with pinkies. To name a few areas: The Corals, Elizabeth Island, Corinella, Silverleaves, Stoney point, Hastings, Yaringa, Eagle’s Rock and Joes Island. The whiting are also showing up in reasonable numbers with big fish mixed with smaller ones. Dickies Bay, Newhaven, Tortoise Head, Middle Spit and Tankerton are all good areas to fish.

Flinders Area

There are still some good calamari being caught when the weather permits. Whiting are starting to show up in reasonable numbers off Flinders and Cat Bay

Boat rage

Some of my mates were out chasing snapper on a Friday afternoon in late October at Hobsons Bay: off St Kilda. The bad spell of windy weather had limited the areas where you could fish safely in the bay. They were amazed to find what seemed like 1000 boats all crammed into one small area, fishing anchor to anchor.

The boats were so packed in they had trouble manoeuvring to get between them without hitting any. Needless to say there was a lot of boat rage going on with fouled anchors and tangled lines. The days of boating etiquette seem to have gone.

Snapper fever certainly brings out the crazies. Anyway they managed four fish and then got the hell out of there.

While I’m on snapper, recently Paul Hardy gave an interesting talk on the storing and releasing of snapper. He has been studying various methods over the years and is a guru on the subject. Basically if you want to keep your fish, once landed give it a sharp blow to the head with a priest or heavy wooden object. Then bleed the fish and put into an esky in brine (a mixture of salt water and ice) and you will notice a big difference when it’s on the dinner table.

When it comes to releasing of fish, using circle hooks are the best. Using light line to fight the fish is a no-no as the quicker the fish is brought to the boat and released the more chance it has at surviving. The average survival rate for released snapper is 50% for fish caught in 15m of water. For fish caught in 20m of water the rate drops to 20%. For gut hooked fish it’s even less.

These statistics are far more telling than I ever realised so my advice to fellow anglers is catch what you want to take home and leave so that there will be a lot more snapper to go around in the future.

Ben Cornford, Tom Wright and Chloe Cornford with a whiting caught on a recent trip in Western Port.

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