The summer bedlam continues in the south of the Bay, with big numbers of holidaying anglers competing for space at all the popular locations. Unusually cool weather around Christmas has given way to more typical summer temperatures, which has made fishing during the cooler times of the day more important. Predictions are for the warmer conditions to continue through until Easter, which will make for some exciting fishing times ahead.
Some great snapper have been taken from the land in recent weeks, especially during strong westerly and southwesterly conditions. The most reliable spots are Mornington Pier, Mt Martha rocks, Rosebud Pier and the rock groyne that extends parallel to the Nepean Highway at McRae. Fresh baits will always produce more fish; try squid, flathead fillet or scad. Surf fishing tackle is probably the best delivery method as it provides the facility for longer casting, and allows better fish control close to home.
Boat activity is always crazy at this time of year, and no wonder with the quality and numbers of snapper available. The big numbers of fish have taken longer to arrive in the southern areas this year, and they seem to be moving around a fair bit too. It’s great to see many anglers trying their hand at catching a few reds on soft plastics, and that more and more are choosing to release the bulk of their catch.
Recently, the most productive wider marks have been out from Mornington and Mount Martha in 19-21m, and in similar depths out from Safety Beach and Dromana. The humble pilchard is still doing the damage, as well as silver whiting, scad and tuna fillet. Sharp hooks and strong leaders are also important, as many snapper sport a decent set of chompers and will bite through lighter line classes. There’s no need to go crazy, 10-15kg fluorocarbon leader is plenty.
Even your humble author has been getting amongst the snapper lately, chucking soft plastics around the inshore marks south off Carrum and Seaford. It seems a long time ago when my good mate Adam Royter and I started chucking lures for pinkies on the inshore reefs, and I don’t remember those fish pulling so hard ten years ago! The best lures have been 5” jerkshads in sardine and sapphire shine colours, rigged on ¼oz 5/0 jigheads.
The best part about the fishing is that these nomadic fish can be easily located on your depth sounder and effectively targeted with a smart drift, or even better the use of an electric motor. My electric proved very useful on a recent outing when my reel was nearly emptied on the first run by a big snapper that was consequently lost near the boat. Most of the lure-caught snapper have been in the 3-5kg range, which makes for some top fun on light tackle.
For those who want to do things a little differently to the masses, there are some quality whiting up for grabs at many of the inshore reefs in the right conditions. Fresh squid, pipis and mussels are the gun baits, and plan your fishing around times of low light. These shallow reefy areas are also productive zones for squid and other forage species, so a variety of tackle is recommended. Best areas so far are Wooleys Reef, Frankston Reef, and the drop-offs along the cliffs at Mount Martha and Safety Beach.
There have been plenty of salmon about lately too, particularly around the mouth of the Patterson River and right along the beach gutters from Carrum to Frankston. I also spoke to an angler the other day who had wrestled with some jumbo salmon out the front of Portsea in close. Casting metal slugs and soft plastics from a distance to feeding fish is the most productive method and will not spook the school. Trolling likely areas with diving minnows and small skirts will locate fish when they are not visible.
As summer winds down and we wait for the Easter bunny, the great fishing will continue in our Bay. New and experienced anglers alike are enjoying the fruits of a thriving food chain and healthy ecosystem. Let’s hope this continues for many summers to come.Reads: 900