It’s all about snapper!
  |  First Published: November 2007

I know for sure that I’ve said it before, and I’m sure over the next few months I’ll say it again, but this time of the year on the south of the bay, it’s all about snapper! Anticipation amongst diehard snapper anglers reaches fever pitch during the month of October, and by November the boat ramps transform into complete chaos while everything else in life takes a back seat.

By the time this edition of VFM is in your hot little hands, big numbers of snapper will have well and truly arrived. Many anglers use Melbourne Cup Weekend as the launch pad for their yearly snapper assault, and traditionally this is a good time to start. The Schnapper Point Angling Club holds their annual Tea Tree Festival on this weekend – so keep your eyes peeled in the December VFM for all the results.

Last year it was great to see more anglers in the Festival participating in the catch and release section, and hopefully more will follow suite this year. It was also pleasing to receive information recently on the new size and bag limit regulations for snapper in Victorian waters. Let’s hope that these measures help to preserve the wonderful resource that our bay opens up for us each year. Our snapper are a wonderful sportfish, worthy of bragging rights at the ramp, but I can assure you that the pleasure is much greater watching a big breeder slide out of your grasp and down to the depths from where it came.

As far as recent captures go, there have been quite a few nice snapper finding their way back to the ramp, and this has excited more than a few of the ‘old salts’ of the bay. These are more likely resident fish, not necessarily from the annual migration.

Trev, Lynette and the boys from Launching Way are getting some sleep while they can, because taking care of the busiest ramp on the bay is pretty hectic to say the least when the snapper are on. A few nice fish have been coming through to Trev’s scales already though, including a ripper fish of 7.3kg caught by local angler Frank Bizouard. It was Frank’s first snapper of the season and he excitedly reported his capture to Lynette via a text message estimating the fishes weight around 6kg. Well, smiles all round when he got to the scales and the fish was more than a kilo heavier. Nice work Frank. The successful bait was a fresh saury.

When referring to the snapper season, some would say this month is the calm before the storm. That is unless you’ve been watching the weather over the past few weeks! A constant westerly wind has been pounding the southeastern shore of the bay for the past two weeks, and is really churning up the water. Most days the shoreline looks more like an ocean surf beach than Port Phillip Bay. Although it’s not great if you own a boat and you want to get it wet, it is good for the food chain and for the next few months’ fishing.

The upside of the messy weather we are currently experiencing is the quality of the land-based snapper fishing, especially from Mornington Pier and the rock platforms around Mount Martha. After photographing the wild and windy conditions at Mornington, I thought there might be a few fish on the chew. After a quick chat to Aaron from Sport Phillip Marine that night, my suspicions were confirmed. So next morning, I went back to the wet and windy Mornington Pier again and the boys didn’t let me down. A very happy angler John Ashard, who had just landed a lovely snapper on a pilchard and lost another at the base of the pier, greeted me.

Interestingly, John was fishing from the harbour side of the pier, not out towards the main body of the bay. To satisfy my own curiosity, I put John’s lovely snapper on my new digital scales and it weighed an impressive 5.1kg. Not a bad effort from the timber of Port Phillip Bay’s most-fished pier, and only a stones throw from the shore.

Well, that’s about it for the snapper for this month, and because I know there won’t be enough room next month, let’s quickly look at what else has been biting. Plenty of squid are still being taken along the entire southern shore of the bay, although windy conditions have made it hard. Some good whiting are still about further south, especially around Sorrento and Portsea.

Plenty of small Australian Salmon have been on the chew in the Patterson River lately, moving from the mouth area right through the main river. Most anglers are having good success with small metal lures and soft plastics, but lightly weighted baits will also catch fish. These are a great fish for kids to learn on and there are plenty of safe platforms to fish from, so get into them while you can.

The breaming has been a little quiet, with most of the larger fish being taken by bait anglers. A good mate of mine has been catching heaps in the northern rivers of the bay recently, and I’m sure our fish will come on the chew very soon – just in time for the arrival of my new boat!

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