Snapper Time
  |  First Published: November 2005

Spring has definitely begun to take a firm hold on the weather with a mixture of rain, warm days and plenty of sunshine. I can’t remember the last time the Mornington Peninsula was so green!

The drum roll of ‘Snapper Fever’ is getting louder and louder as reports start to filter in. There have been whispers amongst tight huddles at the boat ramp, and many itchy fingers preparing for the summer snapper action.

So far, the confirmed captures have been spread right throughout the bay, and are probably a result of more anglers being on the water in recent weeks, not more snapper about. Many anglers are reporting sounding large numbers of fish moving in mid water, but are having difficulty getting them to take a bait. This is a common trend for this time of year. Usually, the best success will come on the change of tide. Last year, the low tide change was critical, as well as the half hour period during and after the change of light.

Although most snapper taken to date have been around the 2kg mark, a few fish up around 5 and 6kg have been landed, including a lovely pair of 5kg snapper taken in very shallow water off Frankston. The reliable marks have been out from the Royal Hotel in Mornington, The Hospital off Mount Eliza, shallow in front of Oliver’s Hill and in the deep water out from Seaford. A few singles have also been taken out from the Outer Artificial, off Carrum. The best baits have been fresh squid, couta and silver whiting.

The boat anglers haven’t had all the joy however, with some snapper also being taken from the land. Speaking to some regulars at Mornington Pier recently on a windy morning, they reported consistent captures of snapper in the 1.5-3kg range, especially during strong westerly winds (just like that morning). They also spoke with great dismay of a 6kg snapper that was taken by a lucky angler on the harbour side of the pier, during the middle of the day! Once again, quality baits are the key to success, with couta fillets, fresh pilchards and squid strips doing the damage.

The hardcore ‘snapper heads’ are still gathering stocks of fresh baits of barracouta, squid and garfish. Barracouta are in heavy numbers around Mornington and out from Frankston. You’ll have best success with 20-30g metal lures using an erratic retrieve. Just don’t forget the wire!

Garfish are still not running as thick as last year, but are in good numbers at Frankston. Use maggots or silverfish under a pencil float. Alternatively, try a small soft plastic or white saltwater fly. The squid are still very numerous, and as always respond well to quality jigs in the 1.8-2.5g sizes. Mornington and Rosebud are the two best areas at present.

For sportfishers, now is the best time to target larger pinkies and hopefully bigger snapper on soft plastics and lures. As the bigger fish move in to feed, the resident smaller fish can become more aggressive, often taking your offering as it’s sinking through the water column. Drift over reefs in 4-10m of water, especially around first light; use 3-5” soft plastics and hang on! I’ve also been doing very well lately using small knife jigs and lipless crankbaits in the same areas. These two vastly different lures can sometimes elicit very aggressive responses from hungry snapper.

The early signs are great for a bumper year ahead. With technology and tackle moving ahead so fast, there is always a new way to catch your favourite fish.

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