It’s that time of year again, the snapper madness is upon us, and the trout season has just opened.
This year we have had excellent rainfall, which will see all of our rivers and streams in great condition, so it should be a good season for all you trout anglers. Going by past seasons, lots of fresh water flowing into our bays usually denotes more snapper entering the bays and a longer fishing season. It will be interesting to see if this is the case this time. With snapper season starting, I thought that I should pass on some basic tips to any new fishers or those that are having trouble catching snapper.
There are two completely different techniques when it comes to snapper fishing in Western Port and Port Phillip Bay. In Port Phillip, I use a running sinker rig, which comprises of a 2oz flat-sided tapered sinker, a metre long 15kg leader with two 4/0 suicide hooks – one fixed and one sliding. I know a lot of you are saying that I must be nuts using 2oz of lead, as most people use a small pea sinker with no leader. On a dead flat calm day with the tide coming in the right direction, they work fine, but on a normal Port Phillip day all your baits end up rolling round together or all under the boat.
With 2oz of lead you can cast your bait further and strategically place your baits all round the boat so you can cover a much greater area, giving you more chances to catch a fish.
There is a rule of thumb when fishing Port Phillip, from dusk to daylight fish in close to shore, 10mor less. Once the sun’s up, move out to deeper water. Another important fact for both bays is that the change of tides is usually the most productive time to fish, so target your fishing times to tide changes.
In Port Phillip snapper show up and tend to stick around a specific area, and these are different each year, so try and find out from other fishos what areas they are catching fish and target these.
Ad for baits, you can catch snapper on a whole range of baits, but my favourites are squid, garfish, silver whiting, couta and yakkas. Pilchards are good too, but you are forever losing baits to rat flathead and no bait on a hook means no fish.
In Western Port, because of the strong currents you need to use heavy sinkers, and in most areas 6oz will hold bottom. For fishing times, use the same strategy as Port Phillip, from dusk to daylight fish in close and fish the deeper water in the daytime.
The rig I use is a two-metre 15kg leader, 4-6oz of lead with two 4/0 suicide hooks – one fixed and one sliding. The long leader makes the bait wave around more in the current, which in turn attracts the fish to it. Because of the current, it’s hard to fish more than four rods from one boat, so I cast one line 20m from the boat and the other one I just drop over the side and my partner does the same on their side of the boat (i.e. one long, one short). This way you eliminate tangles.
For bait, use any of what I mentioned for Port Phillip and remember, fresh bait works best. If you can’t catch your own, go to the fish market and stock up for 3-4 fishing trips.
There’s still good reports coming in from all surf beaches with salmon to 3kg being caught. A trip to the beach is still well worth the effort.
Cleeland’s Bight area is producing some good calamari and whiting are starting to show up, not in big numbers, but they are good quality fish. The last of the run-out tide has been the most productive.
There’s been no reports of snapper yet, apart from the odd big fish coming in from the northern end of the bay. Some good-sized gummies are being caught in the deeper channels for those who are willing to brave the cold and sit out there all night. And there are good reports of calamari coming in off Hastings and the Tyabb Bank.
The big calamari run has started with some whoppers around 3kg plus being caught.Reads: 347