December is a great time to be fishing in the southwest. Water temperatures, that still can be a little cold in November, begin to warm up and so does the fishing.
The main snapper season here is usually later than in Port Phillip Bay, although some large fish up to 7kg were taken, as usual, in early October around Portland Harbor. The main inshore snapper run in the southwest area, however, are generally smaller fish, from minimum size to around 2kg. They can be found not far offshore from all the boat ramps in the area and also off beaches like Narrawong and Logans.
The variety of other fish that can be targeted while fishing for these pinkies is what makes the fishery enjoyable. Inshore boat anglers can expect to encounter large King George whiting, silver trevally, salmon, squid and various shark species while fishing at anchor with lightly-weighted baits in a small berley trail. You can add the possibility of mulloway to that list if you are fishing in the Snapper Point area at Portland. By late in December, if there is a continuing rise in water temperature, the first kingfish should also start to show along the coast.
Estuary fishing is also productive at this time of year. The bream should be well finished any spawning aggregation and be returning to the margins of the rivers where they can be targeted on a variety of techniques.
The variety of lures and soft plastics that are effective continues to grow at a remarkable rate. Recently, in the dirtier water, I have been using the Ecogear Bug which has proved effective on the bream and estuary perch, as well as a 3.6kg sea mullet, which was a hard-fighting surprise.
The Curdies and the Hopkins rivers are the two well-known bream locations in the area, but there are plenty of other smaller water ways such as the Moyne, Merri and Fitzroy rivers as well as Yambuck Lake that can produce good bream fishing at this time of year.
The trout in the Merri and Hopkins that have been taking lures so freely in the discoloured water recently will require a change of tactics come December. Clearer water will see natural baits fished in the deeper holes a more productive technique. Popular baits include mudeyes, minnows and shrimp.
In the Hopkins you also have a good chance of landing an estuary perch as some of them begin making their way back into the freshwater.
1.Dan Grixti with a pinky snapper typically encountered in the local area at this time of year.
2.Troy Beaston with a bream taken from the Hopkins River recently.Reads: 1941