Winter snapper on the menu
  |  First Published: July 2014

With the onset of winter closing in, a solid run of big calamari has infiltrated the Port. Cleeland Bight has seen a good run of sizeable cephalopods in close along the shoreline from the San Remo Bridge right down to the entrance.

Drifting has been the most successful technique for the calamari when conditions have been right. Some of the them have been well over the 2kg mark and have been caught mainly on size 3.0 artificial jigs. Colours have also dictated catch rates with white being the dominant colour used. In saying that, the Yo-Zuri Aurie-Q RS has also been a standout.

Now is also a good time to be targeting winter snapper and while traditionally snapper are a summer species, Western Port gets a solid run from May until late July. These fish tend to school up in the Corinella and Tooradin areas and, just like clock work, have done so again this year.

Tackle World Cranbourne customer John Tanzen dropped into the store on his way home after fishing out from Corinella. John managed 3 magnificent snapper with the best going 6.7kg, followed by a 5.3kg and 4.6kg. All fish were caught using barracouta fillets several hours apart.

Tackle World Mornington staff member Mark Keaveny fished with his mates Wayne and Jake one Tuesday night and managed a cracking snapper that measured in at 81cm. They were off Corinella and the fish fell too a humble pilchard. They also managed a heap of small gummies and schoolies along with the odd elephant to round out a great night’s fishing.

Local angler, Marcus fished the Corinella area one afternoon with his dad. Using fresh salmon fillets for bait, they managed two cracking snapper.

While the snapper are usually concentrated to a few locations, this year they have been wide spread. Solid fish have also been caught off Cowes, McHaffies Reef and Stony Point. If this run is anything like previous years, these fish should stick around until the end of July.

Few anglers have also been on the whiting hunt lately and while scarce, can still be found if you’re willing to put in the time. Barry Johnston headed out in search of whiting and fished the deep water out from the Tankerton Pier. He picked up six whiting to 43cm before moving to the Tortoise Head Bank to catch the last of the run-in tide. Doing so, he picked up another six whiting to 38cm, which made a nice catch at the end of the day. All fish were caught using mussel baits.

I also received two other whiting reports, one from Ventnor where John Brindle caught eight whiting to 38cm using pipi baits. John mentioned that he was fishing in 3m of water.

Angler Phillip also managed 5 whiting, 4 silver trevally and 7 salmon while fishing near Hen and Chickens Reef. Phillip was using berley that attracted the fish and had a top day.

This time of year is also quite productive when land-based fishing. While conditions might not allow for the boat to be used, fishing from the land is as equally as productive if you’re willing to endure the cold.

Good friend and local photographer Mark Gray fished from the shore at Balnarring one night with good success. Mark managed to catch a 7.8kg gummy using salmon fillet for bait.

Other gummies have also been caught from Balnarring in recent weeks and this particular section of coast produces most of the land-based gummies throughout the winter period.

It is imperative that a high tide be fished as the beach is relatively shallow. Oily baits, such as salmon, silver trevally and squid are the best choices.

Merricks is also a good winter location as many seven-gill sharks and gummies are also taken. Once again, this is a high tide only beach but fishes very well throughout the winter period. If I could pick just one location to catch big seven-gill sharks from, Merricks is undoubtedly the beach to be fishing.

Although catching sharks from the beach is the pinnacle of land-based fishing around Western Port, local surf fishing for salmon is also ramping up. Phillip Island’s rocky coastline is very productive for salmon and the next few weeks will really begin to fire up. Flynns, Cat Bay, Kitty Miller and Cape Woolamai are all popular locations and the reports thus far have been very encouraging. Cape Woolamai has been a standout in recent weeks with salmon ranging 1-2kg being caught daily. Bait anglers have been successful but those keen for a little sports fishing have been walking the beach while casting small 25g metal slugs. The fish have been schooling up in the deeper gutters and have been quite aggressive when striking lures.

I can understand why many anglers choose not to fish throughout the winter period but when the fishing is as hot as it is now, there is really no excuse to be sitting on the couch scrolling throughout your Facebook news feed. Rather than watch what everyone else is catching, rug up and get out there to make your own Facebook fishing reports!

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