Table or Bait?
  |  First Published: February 2006

One of the hottest average years on record has just past, as has some of the hottest fishing in a long time.

Many anglers I’ve spoken to lately are lamenting the disappearance of the bay’s snapper. It’s not uncommon that the snapper bite tapers off somewhat at this stage of the season as the fish concentrate on spawning. Maybe it’s nature’s way of protecting future stocks. But all is not lost. Very often the snapper bite post spawn is more vigorous and aggressive, and the fish fight much harder. So now is the time to stock up on fresh baits and get ready for late summer and autumn mayhem.

If you’re a die-hard trophy hunter and you still want that big snapper, then my advice is to stick to the proven marks. Although most adult fish have their minds elsewhere, there will still be numbers of nomadic and resident fish to be caught. Be sure to use fresh bait and concentrate your efforts around first and last light, and during the changes of the tide.

Pinkies in the 1 to 2kg size range are another option, especially around Mornington and further south, out from Mount Martha. Like their larger relatives, these fish respond well to fresh baits, especially fish fillets and strip baits. Stripy tuna and Australian salmon are two good choices. Early morning starts seem to be best, especially in water less than 10 meters deep. Be prepared to weed through the juvenile fish, which can be positively annoying at times, because the larger ones will not be far away.


For the tastebud conscious, the bay continues to serve up some great calamari fishing over its shallow reefs and from the piers. Anglers fishing with small, good quality jigs are taking good bags of squid all through the south of the bay.

Amongst my fishing network, all of our boats have bow-mounted electric motors. These are invaluable for stealth in shallow water and to repeatedly work over a section of reef without outboard noise. They also allow for far more sight fishing in the right situations and definitely result in more calamari for less effort. I’m surprised more die-hard squidders don’t use them!

For the land-based squid anglers, Mornington Pier has once again been the pick of the bunch, as well as some of the surrounding and nearby rock platforms. The pier is a hard-fished water, and although it continues to produce the goods, the use of a quality Japanese squid jig will always yield more squid. Try the new dart max and egilee range from Ecogear.


For those after some great snapper baits, or just good tucker, some quality garfish have been taken recently from Frankston and Davey’s Bay piers. The best baits are maggots or silverfish suspended under lightly weighted quill floats. Local jetty rat, Mark Bolger has got his bag of garfish on his last three trips to Davey’s Bay, and has also reported seeing some schools of large salmon in the area. So keep the lures at the ready!

As the season builds towards more frantic snapper action, some great grass roots fishing is still available in the south of the bay.

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