Bay Winter Snapper, Squid and Gummies
  |  First Published: August 2005

A classic Victorian winter has unfolded so far with calm, foggy days interrupted by violent winds and rains. Hopefully this will continue because not only do we need the rain, but the snapper fishing this year will be better for it. High rainfall generally increases the water temperature and in past years has caused the snapper to run earlier and for much longer.

Cast your eye over the boat ramps at the moment and you’d think all the boats had gone north for the winter! Come to think of it, that’s a pretty good idea! Smart anglers are staying on the bay on the better days and enjoying superb conditions. Okay, it might be cold, but if you change your approach and rug up, you can still enjoy some pretty good fishing.

Cold weather and pinkies go hand in hand and the last few weeks have been no exception. Early morning starts and late evening finishes are par for the course. Presently, soft plastics are taking all of the bigger fish, especially 4” and 5” Berkley stick baits. I am regularly out-fishing nearby bait anglers and getting better quality fish, so if you’ve got a packet of plastics on board, give them a go. I reckon you’ll be surprised.

If you put yourself in the ‘dead keen angler’ category, your best bet is to go deep and chase the best table fish the bay can offer, the gummy shark. I suggest drifting in water depths of between 18 and 25m and using the freshest bait possible. Fillets of salmon, mackerel and striped tuna are favourites, as well as squid, couta and pilchard. Because you are fishing from a moving boat, use more weight than normal to keep baits in contact with the bottom. Just like in Western Port, targeting fish this way will attract other undesirable bottom feeders like banjo sharks and rays, but the effort is well worth it when the gummy comes along. As always, use sharp, strong hooks and leave plenty of hook sticking out of your bait.

Local angler Tom Richardson knows the secrets of PPB gummy fishing only too well, and has landed some ripper fish to 12kg in the past few weeks.

Land-based anglers have also tasted success with gummies recently, especially from Mornington Pier. I have heard several reports of 6-8kg fish taken on early morning tides by anglers fishing close to the Schnapper Point Reef. Surf gear is a must in this situation, giving you the ability to cast big baits longer distances and control fish better closer to the pier.

The fishing for squid is still excellent along many reefs, especially around Sunnyside, Red Bluff and further south in Blairgowrie. Some anglers are using large baited prongs or jigs under floats to target larger calamari while jigging with another outfit. This can work wonders, but when the squid are on, you’ll find that you’ve got a fair stack on your plate! Normally one rod is all that you’ll need. Squid fishing is heaps of fun and they’re pretty hard to beat on the table. Remember to observe the 10 squid bag limit to ensure the future of the fishery.

The bay is not known for its sportfishing action at this time of year, and if you compare it to other parts of this country, that applies for the whole year! Us Victorians are an industrious lot though, and if you’re willing to brave the conditions and dust off the rods or get the boat out of the shed, then you’ll be happy with what you find in the south of the bay!

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