Spring is in the air and with it comes the much-anticipated Port Phillip snapper migration. While we’re still at least another month away from getting our teeth into the season proper, already there have been some inspiring catches across the top end of the bay, and indeed throughout the lower Yarra River.
Land-based bait anglers in particular have been amongst the action of late with some solid reds to 5kg available at Port Melbourne, Williamstown and Newport. Likewise, casting soft plastics on the drift across the shallow inshore reefs has been producing plenty of smaller pinkie snapper, and the odd larger specimen, especially in close to structure in surprisingly shallow water. Each of these areas should only improve as we move deeper into spring.
Determined to snare a land-based winter red, Preston Alley made the long drive from Colac to Melbourne early one morning and despite adverse weather conditions, eventually came up trumps. While the lower Yarra River failed to produce on this occasion, Preston relocated to Port Melbourne where his first cast with a whole pilchard produced an immediate result. After some blistering long runs and thumping headshakes, Preston secured his prize – a sensational 7.1kg winter red!
Over at Williamstown, the inner reef areas have been producing plenty of pinkie snapper and while most have been quite small, there are a few larger fish amongst the juveniles. Worm and baitfish pattern soft plastics, including Gulp! Turtle Back Worms and 3” Minnows rigged on a 1/12-1/6oz jigheads are well worth a shot in 3-6m of water. Just as the sun dips below the horizon of an evening generally produces the hottest bite, especially when this coincides with a change in the tide. Overcast conditions coupled with a moderate surface chop can also bring the fish on the chew in the shallows.
The local piers and jetties have been producing reasonable numbers of pinkie snapper, along with some serious bream. Youngster Nathan Wright and his mates Michael Craig and Daniel Poth put together a solid bag while presenting live crabs alongside the jetty pylons and moored boats. According to Nathan, just 4lb fluorocarbon leader material and a small circle hook proved highly effective. The technique involved flicking the unweighted crab tight up against structure and allowing it to slowly sink on a semi-slack line. Nathan says, upon any sign of movement in the line he would engage the reel, allow the rod to load up and set the hook.
Steering an angry bream away from its lair is not an easy task on light gear and sure enough, a few of the larger bruisers won their freedom. The boys finished with 30+ bream with the largest stretching the tape out to 38cm during an incoming tide.
Squid have been consistent around at Point Cook throughout mid to late winter and there’s no suggestion they will slow up any time soon. A range of jigs will do the trick and there’s no real need to be too concerned about particular patterns. In saying that though, in clear conditions it pays to stick with more natural tones. Local favourites include silver, gold, purple and black with a splash of pink or orange, especially in the smaller 2.5-3.5 size jigs.
Snapper have been a relatively common catch in the lower reaches of the Yarra River through the later stages of winter, particularly for land-based anglers casting towards the edge of the channel. Ahmad Najjar was among those to do well with a hefty specimen taken on fresh squid just prior to a mid-afternoon high tide change.
Further upriver at Docklands, bream have been responding well to small vibe style lures cast close to the jetty pylons. There’s also some good pinkie snapper and school mulloway hiding out in the calm, structure-laden waters of Victoria Harbour.
Sebastian Widjaja picked up several pinkies, along with some small bream and flathead, before he came up tight to a larger opponent. A short time later, a 63cm mulloway was brought up onto the pier. Interestingly, it took a small piece of raw chicken rigged on just 8lb line and a small hook, while a heavier outfit remained untouched.
Both the Yarra and Maribyrnong rivers have been turning up good numbers of these silver slabs with vibe style lures, paddle-tail soft plastics and live baits faring best.
The Werribee River bream are mostly schooled up in preparation for spawning, but they are feeding in short bursts on the making tide. There’s also plenty of big yellow-eye mullet still in the system and they’ve been responding well to live baits and occasionally small lures intended for bream.
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