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Summer snapper score!
  |  First Published: December 2016



A big hello to anyone holidaying around Geelong, the Bellarine and Surf Coast. I hope you can find a fish or three!

The Barwon River in Geelong and down to the estuary has remained high and discoloured. The flow nudged flood force and large carp were reported washed up near the mouth of the Barwon estuary, much to the delight of the local bird population.

The snapper season has well and truly kicked off with anglers enjoying quality fish to 6kg around the Bellarine Peninsula. The bite has been best after a big blow of wind when the water has been stirred up. Dirty water can see fish as large as 5kg caught from local jetties such as Cunningham, Portarlington, St Leonards and even the Clifton Springs rock wall after dark.

Rod Ludlow from Beachlea Boat Hire at Indented Head says there are some quality snapper biting off Portarlington and in the evening around Steeles Rocks. Beachlea have also had clients return with good bags of squid and flathead, which are widespread from Portarlington to St Leonards.

Rod says they also had their first good gummy shark come in along with a few pinkie snapper recently, which were caught around the Prince George Light.

Rod notes that there has been some good land-based snapper caught off both the Portarlington and St Leonards piers, especially when the northerly winds are blowing.

Anyone fishing out off the Bellarine are reminded that it does get busy at boat ramps as we near the holiday period, and your patience is the key while others launch and retrieve. Snapper will come in very close here, especially on dusk, so throw a pilchard out while you wait to retrieve your boat.

Those seeking whiting should pick a sandy bottom with patches of weed beds. They can bite at any tide, but tend to prefer flow. Pipis are a great bait and squid can also be caught while drifting over the shallow weed beds. The tentacles also make good bait for whiting.

Straight out from the Yacht Club at St Leonards, the Prince George Bank, Swan Bay, and the Lonsdale Bight all produce quality whiting and calamari.

Those keen on flathead should try fish baits such as bluebait, pilchards and whitebait and drift in 10-20m of water off the Bellarine or in 4-5m for Corio Bay. Flathead are about in good numbers, although be prepared to wade through plenty of undersized fish to get a feed. Larger fish should move into the shallows mid-December.

Quality pinkies have been caught off Cunningham Pier to 38cm while larger fish have been caught further around from the Bellarine Peninsula piers.

Portarlington Safe Harbour Project, which includes new breakwaters and commercial berthing infrastructure in the new Portarlington Harbour, are well underway. So far two rock walls to the east and north have been installed, plus upgrades to the pier and harbour. For more information visit www.parks.vic.gov.au/portarlington-harbour, or email the project team at --e-mail address hidden-- or call Parks Victoria on 13 1963.

Clifton Springs and Portarlington are the snapper hotspots in December. If you’re launching at Clifton Springs, fish both sides of the shipping channel and the shallows near Point Wilson. Portarlington anglers should try 10m of water just north of the shipping channel. The best baits are silver whiting, pilchards and fresh squid.

The Barwon estuary is a family favourite, with juvenile salmon and mullet providing entertainment for the kids. Try pipis, raw chicken or bluebait for a chance at a silver trevally as well. Your best bet here is the incoming tide – especially if the river is still brown from rain.

Out off Barwon Heads is where it’s at for shark anglers, with gummy, school, thresher, blue and mako sharks available around the 70m mark.

Those keen on a feed of flathead should try drifting with squid in 25-45m over rubble. There is every chance you could pick up a quality snapper or gummy drifting here too.

Big whiting to 45cm and over have been caught in the shallows off Ocean Grove and Collendina by anglers using pilchard fillets, squid and pipis each December through to May. Just keep an eye out for the swell here.

Anyone staying at Torquay should try Fishermans Beach with a small boat (beach launching only) or surf rod on dusk. Whiting and pinkies will come in very shallow on dusk and can both approach 45cm.

The Surf Coast has cracking surf beaches that cough up gummies, pinkie snapper and salmon. Dawn and dusk are best with Thirteenth, Bancoora, Jan Juc and Fairhaven the pick.

The Great Ocean Road has quality rock platforms to fish from, but please check the tides and swell aren’t causing waves to crash over them before you decide to fish from them, or seek local knowledge. Spinning from these rock platforms can produce salmon over 3kg, while baits will see pinkie snapper and whiting around 40cm.

Mick Allardyce fished out off the Surf Coast with Brendan Morgan in 40m of water hoping for a snapper or three. After sounding the type of broken bottom they were looking for, fresh fillets of mullet set on a long drop paternoster rigs were deployed. The last two hours of a falling tide saw a hot bite, with some nice snapper, gummies, flathead and rock ling coming aboard, which made for a great mixed bag. They also released over dozen seven-gill sharks, with a couple of double hook-ups!

David Plant took his four-year-old daughter Kiahna fishing down at Painkalac Creek in Aireys Inlet recently. Using live yabbies for bait, Kiahna landed three bream of 37, 38 and 41cm. A great effort for such a young angler!

Fish HARD – Die Happy!

Catch a few around Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula or Surf Coast to Lorne recently? Send in a report to --e-mail address hidden-- with ‘VFM’ in the subject field or give me a call on 0408 997 348. Please include where (without giving away your secret spot!), when, what on and who caught the fish. Pictures are always great, but please make sure they are at least 1mb (file size).

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