Snapper are only one option…
  |  First Published: October 2015

After shivering through the coldest winter in over 30 years, the warmer and longer days of spring are certainly a welcome relief to the bays anglers.

And while the cooler weather will still remain for some time yet, the change of seasons brings a new lease of life to the bay, and the activity of most of the anglers increases with it. Apart from the early months, we have not received a great deal of substantial rainfall in local areas as yet, but forecasted spring rains will do much to charge up the bay’s food chain, and the enthusiasm of the bay’s boat and land-based fishers as well.

I can’t do this report without mentioning the yearly build up and hype that goes with the annual snapper spawning migration into the bay. I’m a big believer that we have a 12 month snapper fishery in PPB, but growing up on the Mornington Peninsula, you had to live under a rock or in a cave not to get caught up in snapper fever each year, and for me, and many other anglers as well, it’s the most anticipated time of year.

Early snapper reports have been very encouraging, and although the lion’s share of the action has been coming from Western Port, especially during the early weeks of September, some nice fish have been taken in PPB as well. Boating anglers have reported some solitary snapper up to 5kg, mostly falling to fresh fillet baits and squid around the inner and outer artificial. Snapper will tend to hold to structure early in the season, so these areas are the best place to spend time on your sounder, and to concentrate your efforts with a good berley trail. This will bring the fish to you, especially if they are in the area.

Other reports have been coming from the shallower scallop beds out from Seaford and Carrum in 8-12m of water. These fish have been predominantly smaller reds about 2-3kg, but I reckon these areas are your best bet for a larger grazing fish as well early in the season, especially when the water is a little discoloured, or early and late in the day.

The land-based guys have been getting amongst the action as well, mainly from the rock platforms south of Monrington. Mornington Pier is now complete as well, and although I have had no recent reports from there, by the time you read next month’s VFM, plenty of reds will have been taken from the pier as they do each season.

For anyone bitten by the estuary lure craze over the past 15 years or so (both my hands are up), the monster estuary perch that have been taken by some very dedicated anglers in the Patterson River system recently are very exciting indeed. There are several theories on where they came from, and why they are still around, but all I can say is who cares! It’s awesome to see 50cm plus EPs being taken, and they are in prime condition too – definitely well worth the hours of casting in the freezing cold at night.

Some ripper bream have also been taken in the Patto over the past month, especially by the bait fishers at the top of the system, and particularly after recent rain. The lure anglers have been reporting a few nice fish as well, but the canals will fish better as the season warms up.

The mulloway diehards will start hitting the river in earnest over the coming months too, and with plenty of bait and tucker in the system, there’s sure to be some good fish landed!

With all this going on, I have also received lots of recent reports of salmon in the Mornington and Mount Martha area, especially out front of Mills and Fishermans beach, and out from the mussel farm. They can be a little sketchy at times, but stealth and a quiet, downwind approach helps. Salmon are prime bait, great fun to catch and aren’t too bad to eat if they’re looked after properly.

Expect the great squid fishing down south to roll onto our reefs over the coming months as the larger spawning pairs move in. These and the resident squid will also become more active as the water warms into the season.

Also, expect the whiting to follow suit across wider areas as well. They become a great low light option for boat and land-based anglers fishing close to shore. I have had some great recent reports of big numbers of whiting coming from inside Mornington Harbour itself, but this has gone quiet for now.

Overall, October is a great month to get out and wet a line, and even if you’re not mad about snapper, there’s plenty out there to tangle with. Good luck!

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