Prime time in the port
  |  First Published: December 2008

What can we talk about this month? I’m guessing snapper will be a good starting point, with only a skerrick of other species reported.


November began in its traditional way, with a good run of snapper in the Long Reef region. This location always stands out as one of the most productive early season marks.

Although the larger versions of the species may have moved from this location, there are still plenty of school fish of 1-4kg. These fish have been entertaining anglers for the past few weeks and seem to have taken up residence for the meantime. This has provided many of the local charter fleet with regular success, giving their clients a taste of Victorian snapper fishing in its prime.

Most of these fish have been quite picky in their bait selection though, with the best baits being pilchards, squid and fresh salmon fillet.

Further north, I’d usually expect to hear a few reports of big fish taken in the upper reaches of Boultons and Bouchiers channels, but this year I have heard very little. Joes Island produced some fish, but again the standard was set with fish of around 4kg.

I guess many anglers don’t need to travel too far to find fish. The North Arm has been a hit, with plenty of anglers exiting the Hastings Channel, sounding for a little and setting anchor.

In mid-November Gawaine Blake from Think Big Charters had plenty of success on the reds. While there have been plenty of school fish landed, the larger fish have been a real standout. In just one week, Gawaine caught and released plenty of fish of 5-6kg, with the largest weighing 8kg.

Though he has been doing very well with bait during slack tide, Gawaine also gets his clients to flick soft plastics around. They have been boating fish to 4.2kg, with the odd fish being taken on the Lucanus jig.

I headed out with Gawaine to conduct a specialised charter teaching clients how to rig, bait, sound, fish and land snapper. Though we picked the worst days to do so, we still managed a nice fish of around 4.5kg.

For those launching in the bottom end of the Port, the fishing has continued to yield some memorable catches.

Brad McDonald headed out one night after work with his son Riley and good mates Billy and Big G. The boys had a very good session off The Corals, catching and releasing plenty of snapper from 3.5kg to a whopping 9.25kg.

Corinella has also seen some good fishing over the past few weeks. Allan Lee fished in 16m of water during the run-out tide to land a snapper of 5.5kg. The snapper took pilchard baits, and he also managed a 5.6kg gummy shark on squid.

The big fish continue for Aaron Summit from Tackle World Cranbourne. While anchored around Corinella Aaron landed a gummy shark of 7kg and a snapper of 5.5kg.

The rest

Snapper may have been the main target but there are still a few other species getting around that slipped beneath the radar.

Good numbers of King George whiting have been found throughout the Port with locations such as Tortoise Head, Middle Spit, Tyabb and Quail Banks and the Tooradin Channel good places to start.

At one stage Robin Grey from Peninsula Fishing Charters decided to fish for whiting after a snapper session. He was fishing the Tyabb Bank and caught some great fish of 32-38cm.

In late November, regular catches of gummy sharks were reported, with some really big fish amongst them. Gawaine had a fish for gummies when the snapper shut down and managed to get client, Dave Muir, a great fish of 13.5kg just off Lysaughts. This fish took a fresh squid head fished on the bottom.


Boat anglers may have had their successes during the month, but those fishing from the land had equal results.

If it’s snapper you’re after then look no further than the San Remo Jetty. Snapper frequently swim past here within casting distance, as anglers Phil and Joe found out.

They fished both the run-in and run-out tides throughout the night and managed a great selection of species including salmon, flounder and three snapper. The boys also caught a ling.

The land-based brigade consisting of Tackle World staff member Mark Keaveny, Brad Palmer and Clint had some really good fishing sessions from the sand at Phillip Island. The boys certainly put in the hours and were well rewarded with a gummy shark of 4.5kg. A seven-gilled shark estimated at 100kg was then followed by another giller of around 50kg.

During each shark session they have also caught a mixed bag of pinkie snapper, blue throat wrasse, salmon and mullet. They have released all of the fish they have been catching.


By now the switch is already being made from snapper and whiting onto the shark scene. From now until late March, many anglers go in search of one of the most feared fish in the sea, the mako. Although makos may be the most highly-prized, blue sharks, threshers, school sharks and bronze whalers are also common.

Bottom dwelling species will also get their fair share of attention with flathead, snapper, whiting and the odd kingfish being caught.

In the Port, calamari and whiting will become regular captures along with rock flathead.

For those willing to sit without making a noise using fresh baits and enduring long hours on the water, then a mulloway isn’t far away. These elusive fish of Western Port become active about now.

It’s fair to say January will be a bumper month for everything with teeth, so if you’re into reading about long battles, bust-offs and mayhem I suggest you stay tuned...

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