Snapper fever continues on
  |  First Published: September 2014

The past few weeks have been nothing but sensational in Western Port. With every month that has past, snapper have been a major feature throughout the entire winter period!

Correct me if I am wrong but ever since this time last year, there hasn’t been a monthly report without a snapper that has been caught. I am bewildered as to why so many fish are being caught. Is it that the reds have always been there and more anglers are fishing for them these days? Or is there more snapper hanging around throughout the winter period? I’ll let you ponder on that one, but one thing is for sure –when spring hits, anglers go crazy for snapper-dapper-do time!

September is traditionally the kick off time for anglers in search of an early season snapper, but that kicked off months ago. In the past I would suggest a good early season location to head to, but this time around I am way too confused as to suggest a particular spot. In saying that, if I was a betting man, I’d still say that the Corinella region and in particular Tenby Point Channel and Spit Point will most likely fire up in a big way.

My Facebook feed is already being clogged up with photos of snapper arches on fish finders, anglers holding solid reds and even quite a few nice gummy sharks, which is good to see.

Before getting tunnel vision and devoting all your time to catching snapper, early September is a great time of year to head out on bait gathering missions. As they say ‘fresh is best’, which couldn’t be more true. Western Port supports a wide diversity of species with many of the smaller variety making excellent baits for snapper.

Calamari are the top of the hit list and they are abundant throughout the Port. The regular areas are productive but sometimes can be a little quiet due to heavy boat traffic. Quail and Tyabb banks do perform well on the high tide, but sometimes it pays to explore new terrain where the fishing can be a lot better.

It’s not often that I see anglers drifting the edges of the Middle Spit in search of calamari rather they anchor and catch whiting. The Middle Spit is a very under-rated calamari hunting ground and during spring performs very well on the run-out tides. In fact, the cardinal marker is one of the best areas along the bottom end of the Spit. That aside, anglers also fail to use the weedy banks along the southern bank, which runs from Hastings to Stony Point. This long bank is an incredible calamari fishery yet is often barren with anglers on any given day.

Another popular baits species is garfish, which can be caught along the edge of the Middle Spit, Sunken Island, Tortoise Head and around the Stony Point Pier. Spring is one of the better times to catch garfish in Western Port mainly due to their size. While you’re typical gar might only be around 30-40cm, during spring the majority range from 40-50cm. These in particular make exceptionally good baits providing you keep them stored in a freezer. Mind you, at this time of year they probably wont be in the freezer for too long before being used.

Aside from garfish and calamari, anglers can also head out of the Easter Entrance near San Remo and catch silver whiting. Silvers begin their annual run offshore in around 20-30m of water over the sand patches. Drifting is the preferred method used to catch them with a paternoster rig containing size 10 long shank hooks.

Very few anglers catch silver whiting, rather they tend to purchase them frozen. Silvers are one of the most widely used baits for snapper and, while they can be caught in Bass Strait, when the weather is ok to head out it’s worth gathering a few for the next few snapper sessions.

Any fish caught in Western Port can be used as fresh bait for snapper, barracouta, mullet, pike, snook, salmon, yellow tail scad and slimy mackerel.

Although spring is here, now is the time to be out bait gathering. Nevertheless, if you can resist the urge to chase snapper for a few more weeks, from Mid September until the end of the season will be epic. Fresh bait is the key.

When you do decide to head out and find a few reds I suggest no other location than Corinella. This area fishes very well every spring and this year will be no different. Some of the best fishing early in the season is at the entrance to the Tenby Channel and up along the channel edge near Lang Lang. The fish caught up here at this time tend to be quite solid, in the 5-6kg range, and caught quite regularly. If this season is anything like winter has been, we are in for the most epic snapper season we have ever seen.

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