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Snapper hysteria running high
  |  First Published: October 2015



If October doesn’t get you excited, I am not sure what will – as far as fishing goes anyway! Often it is during this period each year that the bay temperature hits 16°, which seems to be the magical number to really turn the snapper in our bay into feeding machines! The Port Phillip Bay and Westernport snapper fishery is world class and it is no wonder one of the most exciting periods of the Victorian fishing calendar.

Along with myriad anglers out targeting the fish there are numerous competitions, both small and large, which run over the next two months and keep the snapper fishing hysteria running high!

Snapper

We have had limited and sporadic reports so far this year but it’s no wonder with epic runs of giant bluefin on the west coast and some quality squid fishing locally, many anglers have been understandably distracted. However, we have seen some early fish down at Queenscliff, along with a few taken off Mornington. I would expect things to heat up very quick from here, so stay tuned.

Squid

We have had a terrific start to ‘big squid season’ with plenty of breeders being caught as early as late August. This is generally a pretty good sign, an early spawn, and boding well for the months right through summer.

There is no doubt that once we start to see pictures of squid with 50cm+ hood lengths rolling in, that the breeding squid have without doubt begun to move into the bays from coastal waters.

Key areas early in the season included most of the tidal water around the heads including Portsea and Queencliff as well as over at Flinders where some of the land-based anglers enjoyed some great fishing.

Yakamito jigs have been popular this year but some of the stalwart favourites are still getting plenty of attention such as the Shimano Sephia 14T. There is no doubt carrying a baited, float set-up can also be incredibly effective if you wish to target big calamari at this time of year. And let’s face it, even if it is not for eating, with snapper season here there’s no harm in shooting out to do a bit of bait collection given the prevalence of this species this season.

Offshore

We had a lot of northerlies through winter this year and this has extended over the last few weeks. Occasionally, the offshore swell has played the game making for good conditions to take the boat through the heads or the western entrance. A few anglers did just that and had some incredible fishing sessions such as Aaron Habgood, who managed two snapper to 6.5kg and a 10kg gummy to boot. Pretty good for a day drifting the mid water reefs offshore.

Freshwater

We don’t do a lot of freshwater down on the Mornington Peninsula but we do have one local waterway, Devilbend Reservoir, which provides for some good fishing if you can get away from the weeds. Devilbend was originally stocked a few years back and now had some stonker brown trout living in it. With the aforementioned issues of weed, it has probably not developed the reputation it deserves, as many of the fish in there are now 8-10lb.

Local Shane Branch is one bloke who enjoys his lure fishing up there and he again produced the goods with a lovely early morning trout that fell to a Rapala lure.

Surf Scene wrap-up

Spring ends the winter forays down to the back beach for many anglers. My take on the season that has been is that it was average at best. While, as you would expect, there were pockets or weeks where we saw good fishing at Gunnamatta and Portsea, there wasn’t the consistency that you would need to make it a really good winter surf season.

We saw big fish early in the season, with salmon between 2-3kg in some significant schools, but then they were gone and didn’t return toward the end of the season as we usually see.

Looking Ahead

November is generally the litmus test of how the snapper season has run. Questions around whether the fish are wide spread or all holed up in one area; what the average size of the fish is proving to be, and many other variables are often answered this month.

So we will wait and see. All I can say is that I hope it is a bumper season, which is good for all. Whatever the case, with so many fishing options available over the coming months (gummies, kingies, whiting all in their prime), it would be pretty hard to not find a certain spring in your step as we head through the month!

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