Tickle me pink, it’s snapper season
  |  First Published: November 2014

Hasn’t Western Port been a standout the past few months? Never would I have though that September would deliver a 10.8kg monster but it did, on Friday 19September.

The story goes something like this. A solo angler headed out in the morning and ventured up to Joes Island. Having no fish finder or depth sounder he set anchor and began a berley trail. Shortly after, he hooked a fish and fought it to the end where he laid it on the deck of his boat and hurried back to the boat ramp. On weighing the fish, it pulled the scales down to 10.8kg! Talk about excitement early in the season, this monster set the precedence for anglers to flood the Port in droves.

Rhyll has certainly kicked off the season well and is fishing the best it has ever since I can remember. It is funny when compiling fishing reports from the past few months to the day you’re typing it all down. It often brings back memories from past years and I remember that for the past ten odd years, there has always been a different location in the Port that has been the standout. Some years it might be Long Reef, some Corinella, Rhyll or the Top End channels and although you can never pin point exactly where and when the fish will fire, it is interesting to report on the current season and have years of memories flood back through your mind.

This season however has seen the Rhyll and Corinella certainly be the pick of locations. With a combination of shallow water and sunshine, water temperatures are a few degrees warmer in these areas, which is probably why the fish are more actively feeding in these locations.

Still, anglers fishing during the night and on first light in the mornings when boat traffic is at a minimum are seeing good results.

Although there is a lot of water to cover around these two locations, fishing around Rhyll at the well known Corals GPS mark has been productive during the flooding tides while some larger snapper to 5kg have been caught in the deep along the drop off out from Elizabeth Island.

Closer in towards Rhyll, anglers fishing between Observation Point and the entrance to the Rhyll Channel have been pulling snapper to 7.2kg regularly. Local angler Gerry has been working the area regularly and has been catching some magnificent fish during each session. So far, his biggest red from the area has been 6kg with plenty of 5kg models in the mix. Pilchards have been the stand out baits.

Another local, 8 year old Jai Mure fished off Rhyll and managed to pull in an 86cm snapper all by himself. The fish weighed 7.2kg on the scales. Daniel Mure caught another cracking fish of 82cm on the same day.

In the Corinella area the fishing has been just as productive providing you sound fish, anchor and wait until they come on the bite. Muzz and Ray did just that out from Corinella and set anchor near Elizabeth Island to target gummies. The gummies eluded them for the day but they caught some ripper snapper. Ray got a PB, which weighed 4.5kg. Muzz also caught a smaller fish of about 2kg. All fish were caught on the run out tide.

There has been plenty more fish caught in that area too. Gerry, his brother and his brother’s girlfriend Karen went out early one morning, and it only took 2 minutes for Karen to catch her biggest fish ever, that being a 6kg gummy. It was caught on a pilchard bait. A few hours later Gerry caught another gummy at 6.5kg, which was caught on a yakka fillet. Along with the gummies the guys caught a mixed bag of salmon, couta and flathead.

Local angler Max also caught a cracking fish from the same area. Fishing the slack tide near buoy 13, Max managed an 8kg snapper that he released after a couple of quick photos.

Though these have been just a few reports of what has been caught recently, there has been many more with fish of 6kg a regular catch surrounding a tide change.

While we are now into November, the water temperature is prime for the reds to go into a feeding frenzy. The next 4 weeks will be epic on the Port and all it takes is some good fresh baits, a little berley and a tide change and it will be on for young and old.

Aside from snapper, the calamari are still going strong for those wanting to catch something a little different. Land-based anglers should really concentrate on fishing from the Flinders Pier as it is going off to say the least.

Anglers fishing from the pier on a high tide at night have been catching some very respectable models. Some of which have been weighed in at 1.2 kilos. Size 3.0 size jigs have been the most effective.

From the boat, working the inshore reefs in Cat Bay has also been producing some nice models; most have come from Hen and Chickens Reef during the flood tide.

Another good calamari spot is on the eastern side of Mchaffies Reef on the high tide. Not many anglers fish in here and it can produce some decent size calamari.

Whiting are also still about and with snapper on most anglers’ minds at present, they are feeling very little fishing pressure. Angler Don English has been fishing on the Tortoise Head Bank over the past few weeks has come home with a nice bag of whiting each time. Don said that the whiting have really come on the bite 2 hours before the top of the high tide. Berley has been essential with pipi and mussel baits doing the job.

I have also had reports of whiting caught in Dickies Bay recently and in the Rhyll Channel on the bottom of the low tide. All it takes is a few anglers to switch their focus from snapper to something else.

Heading into December, anglers will start to switch their focus quite quickly. This will coincide with snapper going into spawning mode, as they will slow down in their active feeding patterns. Anglers with boats large enough will begin to head offshore as it will be time to venture out in search of mako sharks. December and into January is the prime time for these Apex Predators and I can’t wait to see the results when reports being to flood in.

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