Anglers tangling for big snapper
  |  First Published: November 2015

Cup Weekend signals the start of the busiest snapper month of the year, November. Hand in hand with cup weekend is the Tea Tree Snapper Comp, ranking as one of the largest fishing comps in Australia.

The Tea Tree comp will see thousands of boats hit the water in both Port Phillip Bay and Westernport. However, if snapper are not your cup of tea, November is also a sensational month for targeting big gummies in the south of the bay or big breeding squid which tend to get a reprieve while everyone focuses on the snapper.


To start, let’s discuss our favourite red fish – snapper! Early in October, some of the keenest local anglers had their attention understandably focused on one of the hottest big tuna bites that Australia has seen on the Victorian west coast. However, we quickly saw anglers refocus their efforts on the local fishing as more and more reports started to come in from both bait fishermen and land based anglers.

In the south of the bay reports started to come from both Mt Martha and Mornington almost as soon as the season had started. This is a good sign for us as traditionally the best fishing in the south can be as late as December.

Typically, most of the bites occurred around dawn and in the first couple of hours of the morning, which is true to form for early season snapper. Baits have worked well early on, I recommend the humble pilchard, Californian or fresh squid and silver whiting.

It was also pleasing to see some fish taken from the Mornington and Mt Martha rocks as well. Even anglers without a boat have an opportunity to tangle with these fantastic fish – how terrific!


It is not often that we start talking whiting as early as November, but this year it stands to reason as the local fishing around Rye, Tootgarook and Rosebud has been positive in early Spring.

We have seen some good bags of healthy whiting in the 34-40cm range coming from these areas on all the traditional baits such as pippi, mussel and fresh squid. The pinkies have not been a problem at this early stage so it could be a good time to get out and get a bag.


It has been an interesting squid season thus far. We seem to have had a sustained run of big breeder squid, often found in pockets, with the smaller and mid size specimens coming in waves. Some days you get a bag, some days you struggle. On the whole I would still rate the squid fishing pretty well. The water has been very clear, making it easy to sight out the quality sea grass and generally get a few.

The tidal areas at Portsea and Queencliff have no doubt been best for big squid but I would go as far as saying that Safety Beach, and the grass beds in the area, have been the most consistent for your more average size calamari.

Looking Ahead

We are only a moment away from another Christmas and another very busy period down here on the Mornington Peninsula. My advice would be to enjoy the next couple of months, get out on the water and have a bit of fun while the ramps are still manageable and there is so much to do. December is often our best snapper month, so Mt Martha should be a destination you find yourself heading. Alternatively, I have always had great success at this time of year on the South and Symmonds channel targeting gummy shark.

The thing that excites me the most however, is the possibility of some December kingfish. In years gone by, December has been the month that the yellowtails have first shown up, so fingers crossed it is one of those years!

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