Snapper and Water Temperatures
  |  First Published: December 2005

I guess that nearly everyone has been chasing snapper and have been enjoying another good season.

Reports of consistent catches of 3 to 6kg fish from the bay’s eastern seaboard have had a few of us at The Heads wondering how early these fish actually traverse The Rip and head into the upper reaches of the bay.

From the sheer number of fish that seem to like the exclusive eastern suburbs such as Mt Eliza and Brighton, it’s amazing that more big fish haven’t been taken in the offshore areas adjacent to The Heads.

Although some rippers grace the fish boxes of offshore boats each season, it seems many more swim past with mouths shut tight.

I’ve been leaning toward a water temperature theory. The fish enter the bay when water temperatures are around a cool 13 or 14. They stay busy searching for warm currents to follow toward their breeding haunts rather than forage around The Heads where water temperatures can vary as much as 4 degrees from one tide to the next.

The snapper don’t seem to consistently feed in The Heads area until water temperatures reach 16 degrees plus. At this stage, the variation between Bass Strait and Port Phillip Bay temperatures is far less.

As far as fishing goes, anglers have still managed good offshore catches with snapper, gummies and tiger flathead the main target species.

Quite a few early sharks have also been reported with blues pulling scales to 75kg and makos to 80kg. A couple of lads have even had a great white shark check them out while fishing for tiger flathead offshore from Collendina.

Good reports, although late, of large schools of Australian salmon have come from areas such as Lorne and Anglesea. This will likely increase thresher shark numbers on the inshore grounds.

The snapper fishing offshore is very consistent with the majority of fish measuring between 35 and 50cm. A couple of thumpers have rewarded patient fishermen who fish either side of tide changes using larger baits such as whiting heads and silver whiting served up whole.

Until next time, safe boating and remember to wear those life jackets when fishing on the drift, while running to your favourite spots and when alone or at night.

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