Seething for snapper
  |  First Published: September 2015

September heralds the start of the snapper season for many, and those in the know always say that some of the best snapper fishing can be straight after the AFL grand final, which is normally the last weekend in September. But I reckon, if you get good weather and tides, give it a crack now.

Barwon Heads to Torquay is the area to concentrate on if the weather is kind. The outgoing tide is best and you should concentrate on water from 15-18m over reef and 35-50m on the drift over deeper rubble.

This time of year can see the seabed carpeted with pesky, bait stealing draftboard sharks. Sometimes it seems they are everywhere and moving about does nothing, but you have to keep trying. School sharks show up out here around this time too so pack a few light traces. Cuttlefish and squid are great baits as they hang on when the pickers are about but top fall backs are regular fish bait such as pilchards, silver whiting, small but legal length salmon or sauries.

Quality snapper were being caught last month but I would consider this an exception rather than the norm for the cold winter we’re peeking out of. Snapper from 4-6kg were being caught out off Barwon Heads in 40-50m of water, which is a great return for pre-September fishing. Anglers seeking snapper are preferring the sheltered waters of Port Phillip and Corio Bay and are starting out off Clifton Springs, Portarlington and St Leonards. Try the deeper water over 8m deep first, and see if you can pin down an outgoing tide.

Geelong Fishing, Dive and Cray Yoinkers Club are holding a snapper competition that starts at 6am, Saturday the 1st of August and goes through to 12pm Sunday the 8th of November. This is prime snapper time so I reckon there will be some great captures! Senior entry is $50 and juniors are $5 with a big prize pool on offer, it should be hotly contested. For more information, contact Brian Scarlett on 0400 812 348 or lob on over to their Facebook page at Geelong Fishing, Dive and Cray Yoinkers Club.

In June 2015, Victoria’s largest ever artificial reef was created when 25 concrete modules measuring almost 4 metres high and weighing 20 tonnes were deployed offshore between Breamlea and Torquay to improve offshore recreational fishing opportunities.

The purpose-built reef modules are situated approximately 3km offshore, in 25m of water. Personally, I would have liked to see these reefs placed somewhere a little more accessible such as Port Phillip or Corio Bay. However, it is a great effort by all involved should be congratulated. I’d expect the artificial reef will be very popular as they start to hold fish. The project was funded by $1,090,000 from recreational fishing licence fees and $410,000 from State Government Initiative funds in one of the biggest fish habitat enhancement projects in Victoria’s history.

If those pesky kids are climbing the walls over the school holidays, you could take them to one of the lakes stocked by DEPI with ‘ready to catch’ rainbow trout. St Augustine’s Waterhole at the Warn Ponds end of Highton is scheduled to receive 500 of these trout and I bet there are some left over from the term two school holiday stocking, which have grown a bit bigger. They love Berkley Powerbait, worms, corn and sometimes take a small bladed spinner, minnow lure or soft plastic. Pack gumboots for the kids as it can be a little muddy around the banks. For more information including the lakes that are stocked, head over to the DEPI website.

Wurdi Buloc Reservoir near Moriac is producing the odd quality trout and redfin for those anglers prepared to cast lures until they pass out from exhaustion. Brown and rainbow trout have also fallen to mudeye suspended under a bubble float as well as lures while the majority of reddies have been caught on soft plastic lures slowly bounced along the bottom.

The best redfin I’ve heard of was by Bradley Cox who caught a well-earned 47cm, 1.36kg reddy in pouring rain. Bradley was actually fishing for trout using Bob ‘n spoon lures with a reasonably quick retrieve in about 1.2m of water.

Anglers fishing the Barwon River in Geelong while it’s clear have caught quality redfin around the 35cm mark. Greg Ainsworth caught a couple of rippers casting soft plastic lures into the middle of the river, allowing them to sink to the bottom, then slowly retrieving them.

Garfish have been biting well inside Corio Bay and around the Bellarine Peninsula. These fish are dynamite snapper bait and also do very well in the pan. If you defrost a few and luck out on the snapper, you can always cook a few up for a mid-morning snack. Best bet has been to get them excited by flicking some berley about where you plan to fish. This can be as simple as chook pellets mixed with tuna oil and a bit of seawater. Super sharp hooks are a must as their mouths are relatively hard. Add a small float to your rig and you’re in business.

The Barwon estuary has seen good numbers of Australian salmon enter the lower reaches. Most of these fish have been from legal length to 40cm but there has been a few much larger maxing out at 1.6kg. These are fantastic fun on light gear and will gobble lures and almost any bait. They prefer clean salt water and with the recent rain, the best bet could be when the incoming tide brings clean seawater up the river.

Salmon have also been caught by anglers fishing from the beaches along the Surf Coast. Some of these salmon have nudged two kilograms so it is well worth the numb fingers. Give 13th Beach, Bancoora, Jan Juc or Fairhaven to Eastern View a go.

Fish HARD – Die Happy!

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 997 348. 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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