Although the rain has subsided over the past weeks, the bay has definitely benefited from the freshwater influx of previous months and is teeming with life at present. I spoke to a professional bait netter recently, who told me he has encountered several species of pilchards and anchovies in the bay this year, as well as the usual whitebait species. These are great indications of the good health of our bay and an awesome sign of the food that will be on offer for our biggest angling drawcard over the next few months.
If you’ve just arrived from outer space and the previous sentence didn’t ring a bell, I’m talking about snapper. Very soon the bay’s boat ramps will turn into complete chaos overnight, as anglers try their hand at tangling with a big red. If you listen to the old salts who have seen a season or two (and I recommend you do), they reckon that this season will be the biggest yet.
Already anglers have reported seeing some good fish on their sounders on some of the wider marks. I have seen a few fish coming back to the ramps too, especially at Mornington and Carrum, but this is no doubt due to a few sensational weekends for boating, and not a miraculous appearance of the first run of fish for the season.
By October there will be plenty more snapper action. My advice is to hit the piers and inshore waters and stock up on some good quality fresh baits. Lee Rayner wrote recently about the value of a good vacuum sealer for your bait, and if you and your fishing mates are serious about preserving the quality of your baits, then consider the investment. These little gems lock in the flavour and scent of your bait, ready for you to use on a hot bite.
Most of the piers are producing good numbers of garfish, small salmon and some barracouta, as well as some squid from Mornington and the piers further south. The real bonus is that these areas are great places to take kids and newcomers to the sport to show them the basics of fishing – and have some fun at the same time. You can bet your last packet of pilchards that when my little girl is old enough, she’ll be pulling her weight down at my local pier stocking up on her dad’s favourite, calamari.
Speaking of calamari, there has been plenty of squidding action for the boat anglers as well, from a host of inshore reefs. Reports have come from all over the south of the bay, and have included some 3kg plus calamari taken by a few keen boys down at Sorrento. I have found this year the squid have a preference for neutral coloured jigs in brown, green or yellow, especially in the clearer water. My all time favourite is an Ecogear Dart Max 2.5 in colour D09A. Other very successful jigs are the brown Hayabusa and brown Yo-Zuri Shrimp Hunter.
Interestingly, I have also had great success lately applying some tournament bream techniques, and fishing with 1kg fluorocarbon right through to the jig. It’s a little scary when there are a few big ones about, not to mention barracouta, but the results are there and you definitely get more bites. I reckon the smaller jigs perform better with this technique too.
Talking about sportfishing, there are still enough salmon about to keep anglers interested. But with the amount of bait in the bay at present, it’s amazing they need to bust up on bait on the surface. I reckon they spend half their time just swimming around with their mouth open and their eyes closed! Areas worth a try are Olivers Hill, the mouth of the Patterson River, and the bottom of the cliffs near Martha Cove marina.
Plenty of pinkie snapper are still about as well, but most are relatively small compared to the better quality fish up in the north of the bay. My advice is to head a little wider and increase your chances of tangling with a slightly larger fish.
The silly season is nearly upon us, so get out on the water and get ready for another ripper summer on the bay.Reads: 583