Super Snapper and Great Gummies
  |  First Published: June 2006

With most anglers thoughts on catching southern bluefin tuna, those left to fish the rest of Bass Strait have mostly been concentrating their efforts on snapper, gummy shark and the remaining pelagic shark population that hasn’t yet left our waters.

Although we experienced the windiest April on record, the brief windows of calmer weather revealed some excellent offshore fishing.

Incredible numbers of snapper have been found on most rubble grounds in depths of 40m or more and the run of large gummies that have been attracting attention inside The Heads has also transferred to the same offshore waters.

Ocean perch have been consistent on the deeper reefs as have regular catches of jackass morwong and nannygai, which complement a good overall catch of prime eating finfish. The trusted technique of fishing twisted dropper rigs hard on the bottom, sweetened with fresh baits such as squid and salmon, has been the undoing of snapper as big as 4kg.

A point of note that is really evident at this time of year in our waters is how much better the rising tide fishes in comparison to the ebb or outgoing tide. I don’t know of any rhyme or reason for this occurrence but I can tell you that my diaries speak for themselves in this regard. If you plan a trip offshore and would like to get some action then try and avoid the ebbs and concentrate your efforts on the flood. You will have a much better strike rate.

I am a bit stretched for reports this month due to the lack of fishable days so I’d like to raise an issue for consideration by Victorian snapper fishermen.

In recent articles I have mentioned my concern about the increase in commercial trawl fishing that’s taking place in waters adjacent to Port Phillip Heads and along our eastern and western shores.

Now I realise that commercial fishing allows Australians who aren’t lucky enough to be able to catch their own fish the ability to buy it from a middleman. I also appreciate that with proper and strict controls, commercial fishing can be sustainable. But all this doesn’t stop me from having concerns about the current trend, which is deep sea trawling for snapper.

Snapper have become an easy target for a number of operators who are now catching them consistently by the tons. Fish boxes by the dozens, crammed with fish in the 4 to 8kg bracket, have been unloaded from these trawlers. One has to wonder about the long-term effects of such pressure on our snapper stocks.

This fishery is controlled by the federal government and is very small in comparison to the overall southeast trawl fishery. The down side of its small size is that it doesn’t receive much dedicated research or monitoring.

One saving grace with all the wind over the last month is that the trawlers themselves have also missed days on the water. Let’s just hope that plenty of snapper managed to run the gauntlet and continue on their migratory route.

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