More than just snapper about
  |  First Published: October 2016

The winter chills are slowly backing off, with warmer days, wattle trees starting to flower and Victorian fishers going slightly off the radar on the home front. Lawns grow fast and don’t get mown, the garden bed gets weedy… It must be snapper time in Melbourne!

The annual spring run of snapper are moving into the bay, and as the warmer days appear, so do the boats. While the age-old techniques of bait fishing with unweighted and lightly weighted baits will always do well, don’t be afraid to modernise things and get with current technology.

Soft plastics are well and truly established as proven snapper lures. However, the last couple of years has seen anglers seemingly forget about proven newer techniques. While you are sounding area looking for a likely area holding fish and bait, troll a deep diver or two. There’s a hundred different brands out there, believe what you will of the advertising and marketed hype created around some of the stuff out there. Put simply, some of the best snapper trolling lures are the same lures we use for natives like Murray cod and golden perch. Deep diving, huge body rolling actions delivering truckloads of vibration through the water act as a beacon to feeding snapper in Port Phillip Bay.

Rods don’t have to be out of control heavy either, and a 3-5kg, 2.1m graphite rod will deliver everything you need in sensitivity and power. The tip will allow you to tell if there is stray weed on the line (fine diameter PE braids around 10lb are ideal) and the power of these rods is more than ample to knock over a big red. The latest revolution of slow style flutter jigs are also well suited to snapper, with some sensational fish taken last year by anglers. The key is to specifically target fish, learn to use your sounder and know what it is displaying!

Spring also sees a lot of local angling clubs holding competitions. One of the best, especially for junior anglers who all receive a massive entry pack of fishing gear and goodies, is the Hobsons Bay Melbourne Cup Snapper Challenge, over the last weekend in October. Check out the Hobsons Bay Sport & Game fishing Club on Facebook or give one of the organisers a call. Call Frank on 0477 100 034 or Glenn on 0414 936 709. There are mystery weights, raffles and a huge carnival atmosphere. Entrants receive more than their entry fee in value!


Early season points towards Hobsons Bay as a reliable area to target snapper. From Port Melbourne to Williamstown, Hobsons Bay often holds early season opportunities. The inner reefs of Williamstown in 4-8m still hold pinkies, but also realistic chances at fish up to 6kg. Pushing wider, the ever-popular areas towards P2 and the outer anchorage are areas to sound over for grazing fish. Good berley is the key and finding an area to yourself is worth the sounding time and exploration.

Land-based anglers still have great opportunities in this area as well. From the Westgate Bridge down into Hobsons Bay is a great area. Snapper, big salmon, mulloway, flathead, bream and a variety of other species are a worthwhile target. Dean Yeoman and his superstar son Lincoln landed some huge salmon recently from under the Westgate and Lagoon Pier. Dean’s biggest salmon was a beast at 2.82kg, while Lincoln’s best was a new personal best for him at 1.8kg. The trip however come at a cost, with Lincoln hooking an unknown beast that spooled him and broke his reel! Bluebait, pilchards, squid and pipi baits landed the boys fish across two days of fishing. Casting lures and plastics as always proves it’s worth, Dean’s huge 2.82kg fish was taken casting a blue pilchard pattern metal lure.


Shallow reefs provided the usual all-round options, with an outside chance of a bigger snapper. However, the calamari fishing around the entire area is continuing to be sensational. The long-term health of this area of Port Phillip Bay is showing itself clearly over the last few years, with so much variety on offer to anglers.

Recently, hard-core father and son team of Shaun and Kye Cormick have had great success on the calamari, with great catches and some big models amongst them!

As the water begins to warm, areas in shallow from 1-2m depth out to the usual 5m mark all hold calamari. And while you’re in the area, cast around a soft plastic or vibe and you are most likely to add some great-sized flathead, pinkies, pike or salmon to the catch of calamari! Alan Bonnici did just this recently, and got a great feed of flatties on lipless vibes.

The lower reaches of the Werribee River and the marina wall will continue to be a great option from now until Easter! Get out there! The usual targets of bream and flatties are up for the taking, but evenings could see you landing a surprise or two. Never rule out the chances of a big snapper (especially after a few days of spring wind), mulloway or gummy shark.


Schooling bream in the Yarra and Maribyrnong rivers should be starting to spread apart after spawning and moving back towards the jetties, bridges and midstream structure. Hopefully some spring rains will keep plenty of food flowing down the rivers, leading to great spawning conditions for snapper, flathead and all the fish we love to catch.

Don’t despair if the rivers are flowing hard, there are still bream, mullet and salmon to be found. After all, this water delivers food and the bream can really fire up. Alan Bonnici and mates from Fishingmad have continued their great catches in the Maribyrnong around Canning Reserve. Baits such as maggots and pilchard fillet have been productive, along with the ever-reliable motor oil grub pattern plastic.

Vibes in a variety of sizes are always worth having in the tackle box, with small 35mm models like Ecogears and the larger Strike Pro Hummer proving their value with plenty of catches on fish up to 36cm. Alan mentioned that immediately after the recent rains while the river has run at its dirtiest has provided some great fishing with aggressive takes and lots of activity from the bream in the area.

Keep a lookout for the ultimate southern sportfish, the estuary perch, while you are hitting the metro rivers. Their numbers are growing and catches have increased substantially over the last 18 months. They love lures, especially anything with a solid vibration and plenty of action.


I’d love to see and hear fishing experiences in the local area! Send through fishing reports and high-res photos of your great catches to --e-mail address hidden-- with as much detail as you are happy to share.

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