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Spring on the snapper
  |  First Published: October 2016



Spring has sprung on PPB. We’ve endured a long, cold and very wet winter. While these were conditions we needed, it didn’t make it easier to take. Being an eternal optimist, I’ve been telling people a while now that the seasons are changing. Now the proof is in the pudding.

We’ve just come off the back of two ripper weekends in a row, and are now moving comfortably into some days in excess of 20°C. Everybody’s happy. For many of the bay’s anglers, there’s only one word that comes to mind when spring is in the air – snapper, but there’s plenty more going on in the bay.

Plenty of snapper reports have filtered in over the past couple of weeks, though most anglers are focused on great early season action in Western Port. Early signs from PPB have been great as well. Nice fish are taken by land-based and boat anglers. Jarrod Healey has put his lure fishing skills to good use, accounting for fantastic reds on soft plastics, along the inshore reefs. Jarrod has got some ripper fish to 5kg of late, and these fish will really pull the kinks out of your line on light spinning tackle.

As is the trend for early snapper season in PPB, expect reefy and structure rich areas to hold snapper as they first enter the bay. Use your sounder to locate these areas – this is paramount, as is the use of berley and a variety of fresh baits, once you’ve dropped the pick and started fishing. Don’t be shy to try live bait, if the fish are being picky.

Reds will leave these safe areas during rougher weather in particular, and during low light. This is when the land-based crew cash in. Last season, I reported just as many good snapper taken from the land as in the boat. Keep this in mind and keep the snapper reports coming, over the next month.

A great sign for many has been the strong presence of whiting in recent weeks, along the eastern side of the bay. The St Leonards area has long been a winter whiting haven, but it’s great to see plenty of fish on our side of the channel as well. Southern areas around Rosebud, and beyond, have been the best of late, but I’ve also had a few reports further north around Mount Martha. Calamari have started to load up south of the bay, this past month, as they begin their spawning cycle and migration. Areas further north like Mount Martha and Mornington have been firing as well.

The inshore reef areas seem to have cleared quickly during periods without rain, and the sight fishing for squid in the shallows has improved as a result. One common thread of late has been that wherever they are at the moment, they are definitely in big numbers. Find a patch of squid, and you’re likely to find plenty of their mates as well.

I’ve had reports of kayak and small boat anglers having good success, fishing lures and lightly weighted baits around the areas of the Mussel Farm in Mount Martha. This zone is also a popular early season snapper area for many. Early and late in the day has been best, and there have been plenty of big salmon about too, which are always great fun on light spinning gear.

Lastly, the local bream fishing has been first class of late – the big flush many estuaries received over winter begins to bear some fruit. Bait anglers have been doing well fishing garden worms, shell and crab baits, and not only in rivers. Some of the nearby reefs and beaches have been producing bream as well.

Lure anglers have done especially well in the Patto, using Cranka Crabs and soft plastics around the pontoons and pylons throughout the system. Bream can be a little more willing this time of year, and while the water still has a bit of colour about it, so now’s the time to get out and get amongst the action.

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Good numbers of fresh run snapper like this 7kg Westernport fish, taken by Dave McKenzie recently, have already been taken in PPB. This is a great sign for the rest of the season ahead.

2

Jarrod Healey with a lovely 5kg early morning snapper taken on a soft plastic and light spinning gear.

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Patterson Lakes has been producing some cracking bream of late for dedicated boat and kayak anglers, particularly on Cranka Crabs and soft plastics.

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