Go deep for better snapper
  |  First Published: November 2009

Finally we have had some relief from the strong onshore winds that was making fishing opportunities scarce for anglers.

This year’s weather pattern seems to be following a more traditional path, which gave us a more prolonged spring with more rain than we have been used to over the past couple of years. This has done great things for the fishing in the bay; just ask the thousands of anglers out there at the moment having the time of their lives!

Snapper is the major summer draw card for most of the bay’s anglers. It really is amazing to see the transformation that occurs at ramps and piers when the snapper start biting, and also how many anglers seem to have no jobs or home to go to.

Snapper fishing has been a Victorian tradition for many years, and luckily we have what I reckon is the best all round snapper fishery right here in our great bay.

Most of the action is currently out wide in depths greater than 18m. Currently the snapper are very spread out in these areas, and not holding in large numbers. Also, most fish are smaller school sized fish in the 2-3.5kg range.

There have also been a few larger models taken in the same area as well by persistent anglers. Some of the best action has been very wide, out to 20-21m especially before first light, and approaching dusk in the late afternoon.

Presently, the trick to success is to locate a few decent marks on the sounder and concentrate your efforts in this area. Because the snapper are moving about freely, and there is little structure in this area to hold fish, they will mooch about in a wide area in search for food.

Anglers will benefit from the use of a steady berley trail to hold the snapper close to the boat. Fish your baits back in to the berley trail, and don’t be afraid to present some baits unweighted, as they will waft through the water column at the same rate as the berley, and often be taken in mid water by a hungry snapper.

The most productive wider marks have been 19-21m straight out from Carrum, right through to Frankston and also in the same depth out from Mornington and Mount Martha. Shallower marks have been producing the odd better quality fish, but not the same numbers as the deeper marks.

The piers and land-based platforms have also produced a few nice fish over the past month as well, particularly Mornington Pier and the rock platform at Bradford Road, Mount Martha and also at Canadian Bay. Best time for these areas is during a strong westerly blow.

Your choice of bait is not super-important, and it seems all anglers have their favourite, but what is important is the quality.

A quick peek at your sounder at the moment should tell you there’s no shortage of bait amongst the snapper, and with so much food on offer, your baits have to be good quality.

Luckily, there are some ripper baits available from your tackle shop freezer, but as always time spent gathering fresh bait yourself does pay off, usually with the larger fish.

All the proven baits are working at the moment, best options are pilchards, silver whiting, red rockets, fresh garfish, squid and couta fillet.

Snapper on lures

If you’re trying to catch your snapper on lures in the deeper areas at the moment, try a different tact to normal. Because the fish are so spread out in a wider area, it will pay to anchor up and dispense a berley trail, as you normally would bait fishing.

This will bring the fish to your area and should make for less casting between fish (always a bonus). Leaving an outfit in the rod holder, and letting the wave action do the work is always worth a go as well, as sometimes a more natural movement will do the trick.

In this instance it can also be effective to wind your lure a few turns off the bottom before placing it in the holder, especially for larger plastics with more tail movement.

Larger vibe style lures are also taking a few fish at the moment, as my good mates Shaun Clancy and Bill Hartshorne found out recently, but more on that later.

I guess if you don’t like snapper maybe a few months of lawn bowls or golf because the snapper fishing should be awesome over the coming weeks and months in the south of the bay. I’m looking forward to the bigger fish moving in to the shallower reefy marks, so I can catch a few on lures.

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