Red letter days on the bay
  |  First Published: December 2007

We are well into another bumper snapper season, with everyone seeing red – most of the time for the right reasons. There have been plenty of snapper being caught, but there have also been quite a few days when even really good snapper fishos have been left scratching their heads, and going all red in the face with frustration as the fish decide to stop feeding for no apparent reason.

In November we experienced seemingly endless east and southeast winds, and while this hasn’t seemed to affect the fish, the associated ups and downs of the barometer really has determined the snapper’s mood. Aside from these little hiccups there has been a great spread of fish almost everywhere, and in a range of depths, which has allowed anglers to spread out.

Mordialloc to Black Rock

Some days it seems you could catch a snapper just about anywhere in this area, although some of the better early morning spots have been the inner reefs such at Parkdale Pinnacles and the Hump. While the numbers of fish in these locations may not be as outstanding as further out, there are plenty of big snapper on offer for those anglers who fish with big, fresh baits during darkness.

Out in the deeper areas such as the Gasso in 18m, or even deeper in 20–21m, there have been some huge patches of fish to be found. I have done a couple of trips out to these deeper locations, and we haven’t even used the sounder to find fish. Instead we just stop the boat when we reach the chosen depth, then with a bit of berley, each trip has resulted in 6–15 fish.

While these fish out in the deep water tend to be a bit smaller, with plenty of 1–3kg fish, there are some really good fish in amongst them, with anglers reporting the odd fish of 7kg. As well as the snapper, there are also gummy sharks up to 1m being landed by some anglers.

The inner hard reef from Ricketts Point to Black Rock is holding good numbers of squid, along with the odd snapper, especially during rough conditions.

Sandringham To Port Melbourne

December is the time of year that the area between Sandringham and Port Melbourne really starts to fire up. There has already been a good run of big snapper in ‘The Gully’, which is just out in front of the rock groynes at Hampton. Immediately after strong westerly winds there should be more fish there.

The shallow reef areas through this area, such as Green Point, North Road and off Brighton, are also holding decent numbers of garfish and squid, both of which make great eating and even better snapper baits.

Out wider off the Fawkner Beacon, there are plenty of fish on offer, as the snapper spread though this whole area. The spoil grounds are producing huge numbers of fish some days.

Up towards St Kilda it is a really exciting time of year, as the big snapper will begin to move into the top of the bay and into shallow water to feed at night. Here fishing over the rough bottom in anything from 3–8m of water can produce mind-blowing fishing under the cover of darkeness. This is an area that is noted for truly big snapper and I know one angler who has already taken three snapper over 9kg from the St Kilda area this season, not to mention all the 7–8kg fish amongst them.

Pier fishing in the area is going well too, with garfish and flathead being caught in decent numbers from St Kilda, Kerford Road and Lagoon piers. The odd snotty trevalla has been taken too, along with some smaller snapper. December should see the bigger snapper become more accessible to land-based anglers, especially from Station and Kerford Road piers.

Fishing from a boat in the area between Station Pier and Princess Pier over the coming weeks will also fire up as the snapper school up before spawning.

Yarra and Maribyrnong rivers

With some pretty serious rain falling in early November, the river systems have had a good flush, which bodes well for the upcoming season. While the fishing may have slowed a little in the short term, before the rain the bream were really starting to fire up as the water warmed and the fish started to get active. Both the bait and lure anglers were getting their fair share of fish. I hear some reports of bream off the bridges in the Maribrynong, and up around the racecourse, along with the odd capture of small mulloway.

The Warmies at Newport is producing bream and mullet for those anglers who use berley. A good tip in this area is to use small pieces of chicken fillet for bait. I’m not sure why the fish eat it, but they seem to love it!

Williamstown To Werribee

This area has gone crazy again this year, with a huge run of bigger snapper making their way to this part of the bay. The fishing is great, with the locals catching heaps of fish in the 4-8kg range.

It definitely seems that the regular anglers are catching more fish, because the fish are quite mobile at this time of year. They can be in the shallows one day, then out on mud the next – so it pays to keep your ear to the ground for reports.

Just to confirm the good fishing, I was at the Hobsons Bay Club doing a talk recently, when one angler came in and whispered to us he had just caught two snapper of a 7.8 and 9.2 kg.

As well as all the reds, there are quite a few whiting on offer up towards Werribee, and all the shallow reefs and weed beds are holding good numbers of small squid. For the lure anglers its also worth getting out and fishing the drop-offs and weed edges in the shallows at this time of year, as some really good flathead are on offer.

So there you have it, hopefully the wind will begin to ease as we move into early summer. Let’s hope the fishing just gets better.

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