Big reds, in size and numbers
  |  First Published: December 2013

The lead up to November was quite cool leading to lower than normal sea temperatures and a later bite for snapper in particular.

However once that water hit 15C, all hell broke loose and there were some terrific captures of big red over early November.

Geelong Freshwater

The Barwon River remained discoloured for a lot longer than other years due to the early season rainfall. There were good captures of European carp, redfin and eels along the Barwon over the past month. The best redfin were caught closest to dusk and even after dark using live minnow and minnow profiled lures.

Corio Bay

There has been plenty of snapper taken by anglers fishing land based spots such as North Shore rocks, St Helens rock wall and Geelong waterfront with the largest fish around 6kg coming from North Shore. There has been the odd salmon to 40cm being caught by anglers trolling white Occy lures around Point Henry and Grammar School Lagoon.

Ross Winstanley has had a few trips for snapper out off St Helens but could only manage a hand full of undersized and some legal length flathead.

Clifton Springs and Portarlington

The turning point in the channel just off Clifton Springs has produced some quality snapper captures either side of 7kg. Small flathead and undersized snapper have been a problem when laying out big baits for larger fish but they seem to disappear around dusk and are not as bad before dawn.

I fished off Clifton Springs with work colleague Peter Mohr. We worked the shallow weed beds for squid early on where we managed to tempt four very tentative calamari to the boat. We then flicked soft plastic lures in around 4-6m of water off Hermsley where we were bitten off by what was probably a large pike judging by the frayed leaders.

Ross Winstanley also had a go at the snapper fishing over near Point Wilson where he managed to boat two excellent fish of 7kg and 8.2kg! Ross says that the action was all over within 15 minutes after he had anchored up and set his baits and he spent the next couple of hours catching a feed of flathead.

Aiden Jarosinski also fished the outer harbour just north of Point Wilson with his mate John Magri and his son Ben. Aaron says the fish came on the bite about 6.15am and they had bagged out by 6.45am with all fish from 2.5-5kg.

Ben and Daniel Attard were out fishing with their dad Steve off the Mountain View Quarries recently. Using pilchards for bait, they managed to catch a ripping snapper that eventually weighed in at a very impressive 7.7 kilograms.

Portarlington to Queenscliff

Rod Ludlow from Beachlea Boat Hire at Indented Head reports there has been plenty of squid taken from Portarlington around to Swan Bay by anglers drifting over the weed beds. The better spots were Grassy Point, Governors Reef and St Leonards. Rod suggests trying smaller jigs, as they seemed more productive.

Rod notes that there are lots of flathead being caught by anglers drifting off Indented Head and St Leonards with pilchard and squid the best baits.

Rod says he has had a few reports of snapper taken after dark on the St Leonards Pier with some around 8kg, which are well worth the effort.

I had a chat to Ben McLean recently who said that Swan Bay was really firing with calamari climbing all over his jigs.

Phil Walters of St Leonards Angling Club fished out off St Leonards in 5m of water recently. Phil was targeting whiting so set out a good berley trail and put out two rods with light line, small 1/0 circle hooks, one with a pipi and one with mussel.

He then and proceeded to bait up two snapper rods with pilchards as he had heard that the snapper were moving into shallower water. The rod with the pipi screamed off and Phil grabbed it and proceeded to tussle with what was clearly much larger than a whiting. After a careful fight, Phil eventually boated a 4.65kg snapper! Not a bad effort using whiting tackle! Phil also caught a barracouta at 510g and some whiting around 28-30cm.

Barwon Heads and Surf Coast

There has been some great fish caught from Barwon Heads to Anglesea of late. School and gummy sharks have dominated but there has also been some ripping snapper captures with most fish around 3-5kg plus a couple of quality thresher sharks around 50kg.

Brent Hodges from Lara says that over recent weeks, a few keen youngsters from Lara Secondary College have been refining their skills on the banks of the Barwon River estuary. Several juvenile salmon and some better-sized yellow-eye mullet were taken from the floating pontoons at the Ocean Grove boat ramp. Students were using small pieces of peeled prawn on running sinker and single dropper paternoster style rigs either side of high water. In addition to this, a short stop at Queenscliff produced a few salmon on Gulp Turtle Back Worms.

Brent also had a crack inside Corio Bay with his brother Brad. They struggled to locate the snapper they were hoping for but ended up with half a dozen legal pinkies to 35cm, a dozen salmon to 40cm, couple of lengthy snook and a few flatties for dinner; mostly taken on Gulp Turtle Back Worms.

Thomas Devlin showed his old man Sean how to fish with a pair of cracking bream he caught in the Barwon River estuary last weekend. Thomas’s fished measured in at 38-42cm.

Mick Allardyce from Allyweld Group in Anglesea says the local beaches have been a bit patchy but a couple of his mates, Bryce and Belly fished Jump Rock at Lorne where they hooked into some solid Australian salmon up to 2kg recently.

Mick has also heard of a few snapper around the 5kg being caught out off Lorne. Pete Mohr has his kids down that way last week and saw an angler catch a snapper around 1.5kg fishing from the pier while he and the boys caught a few wrasse.

I had a fish down at Cumberland River where I saw an ant hatch that nearly blocked out the sun and filled most of our drinks, dips and barbequed food. Thankfully the trout responded to these insects as they clouded the river and I managed to catch and release a small brown trout using the fly gear.

He took a black bead head nymph in the large pool at the caravan park and spent a lot of time dancing out of the water to the delight of the kids watching on.

Catch a few around Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula or Surf Coast to Lorne recently? Send in a report to --e-mail address hidden-- with “VFM” in the subject field or give me a call on 0408 997348. Please include where (without giving away your secret spot!), when, what on and who caught the fish. Pictures are always great, but please make sure they are at least 1mb (file size).

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