Big reds raring to go
  |  First Published: November 2015

Despite a slow start to the season, there is no doubt that the snapper are now well and truly on the chew.

Fishing was a little challenging throughout spring as the water temperature proved a little cooler than in previous years. This caused the fish to be less active in their feeding patterns compared to other seasons. Of the few reported captures, there were some very nice sized models about. The early bites were scattered throughout the Port, but in typical fashion, Spit Point and the Corinella region produced fish early on due to a very slightly higher water temperature than the channels.

On any given calm day, there are a significant amount of boats scattered from Ram Island, up through Mosquito Channel to Spit Point. Some days it’s standing room only as there are a lot of fish throughout this section of the Port. I was recently out in the same area and while waiting for the tide, decided to go for a drive to find a better concentration of fish from the ones we were sitting on during the previous tide. After travelling for 2km we found over a dozen solid fish with many smaller models scattered about. Unfortunately on that day, the fish didn’t bite but still, sounding around and finding the quantity we did was good insight for our next trip.

Shaun Furtiere from ‘Think Big Charters’ on the other hand has been dominating the snapper in recent weeks. Shaun has been fishing around the Corinella region and has been putting his clients onto some very impressive fish with one angler landing a cracker at 6.2kg. The other fish have been around the 4-5kg mark. Fresh calamari has been the top bait with the fish biting best on the second hour before a tide change.

The Rhyll area hasn’t fired just yet and although a lot of boats are fishing the area, the fish that have been caught have been around the 2kg mark. Rhyll does fish extremely well throughout the season but tends to fire at the end of November and into December.

This month is also a great time to be fishing down the Western Entrance. The smaller reef areas around Buoy 15, 14, 11, 8, 5 and 2 are all worth sounding around until you find fish, then anchor and set your trap. This area is open to both the ocean swell and of course easterly, southerly and south westerly winds so make sure you check the weather before venturing down.

Location Location

There are many top locations to be fishing this month and now is a great time to go in search of new fishing spots while the fish are madly on the chew. You may be able to pluck a big red from the murky waters. Locations such as Coronet Bay on first light, Observation Point and Silverleaves are all worth exploring as these three locations are known to harbour 20lb fish from November to January. For what it’s worth, it doesn’t take much effort to sit out a few hours during a tide in one of these locations.

Boat anglers aren’t the only ones catching snapper with land based anglers fishing from Settlement Point, Lang Lang, Stock Yard Point and Stony Point Pier catching some nice fish. Of those caught and reported, a 5kg red was caught from the stones at Settlement Point on a pilchard bait during the last of the run out tide. Smaller fish have also been caught at Corinella Pier and Stony Point Pier.

With the snapper hype at the moment you wouldn’t think that Western port produced any other fish. Anglers that have already had enough of catching snapper have made the switch over to whiting and they are rife throughout the typical areas. Jim Barrington caught a magnificent bag of whiting while fishing along the southern end of the middle spit. Fishing in 4 meters of water and using berley, Jim reported that the fish bit best on the flood tide with pipi used for bait.

Whiting for the win!

Other reports of whiting have been from Tankerton, Tortoise Head Channel and around Reef Island where anglers have also been catching some nice rock flathead on occasion. Depending on how you get there, Balnarring (the home of the 50cm whiting) is also starting to fire up now with plenty of solid fish being caught in the high 40’s. Local angler Phillip Miller was fishing in 12m of water out from Somers. Phillip said he was using the Icon Y-Ting rig and had an epic session catching 4 double headers of whiting during his session. Mussel and squid strip baits worked best on the run in tide. This area is well known for producing many of Western Ports 50+cm whiting over the years and if you’re going to catch one in your life time; this is the location to be fishing.

Though many anglers do like to up anchor and move to another spot if they are not having success, I personally find this to be a lot of hard work and although it does work, using berley makes whiting fishing much easier and takes all the hard work out of the equation. Whiting are always on the look out for food so when there is a significant amount of fishy smell in the water, they are quick to follow it to the source. Berley pellets mixed with tuna oil will do the job otherwise just a 2kg bag of pilchards mashed up and placed into a stainless steel berley pot will do the job perfectly. Obviously in Western Port, this has to be weighted and placed on the sea floor.

Whether you’re targeting snapper, gummy sharks, whiting or calamari – berley can be used and will give you the best chance at having success even when times are tough. Next time you’re fishing the Port, toss some berley overboard, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at your success rate.

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