As the days slowly start to get longer here in Melbourne the one thing that is on many angler's minds in the crimson tide of snapper that have slowly started to infiltrate the bays. The fish that enter Port Phillip at this stage of the season are generally larger than that of typical school fish which appear a bit later in Spring. These fish are subtle feeders generally, and this coupled with colder water temperatures - especially compared to this time last year, can make them a bit more challenging to catch. At this stage of the season the fish generally don't eat as often compared to when the water is warmer, so that fish you've marked off Frankston might only eat every couple of days. In saying this, there will be another fish close by that will eat sooner - especially if your bait is A1 and you have paid attention to your rigging.  


James from Unreel Fishing Charters and mate Daniel have both been doing some early work out on the bay in search of a few reds and a couple of areas have held feeding fish. The Carrum area has been holding a few fish that have been responding to quality pilchards and also squid.


Customers Zoran and Ned have also been doing some early recon on the Port Phillip reds. The guys have been fishing the Chelsea/Carrum area and so far have found fish to around 4.5kg. Pilchards and squid have been good at the moment.


There have also been plenty of smaller pinkies hovering around many of the inshore reef areas lately as well. While a lot of the fish can be either undersize or smaller than 30cm there have also been pockets of better fish amongst them. The bigger fish tend to move about a bit more and not station themselves in one area of reef, but patrol the edges more frequently - and this is where to look for them. Small cut baits of pilchard and squid are deadly, but soft plastics also claim their fair share of fish. Small minnow patterns have been effective lately, especially when fished on reasonably light jigheads - for pinkies even in relatively deep water 1/4oz is the heaviest you'll need. Arm yourself with some 3'' minnow and curl tail/worm patterns and fish them around reef structure and you'll most likely come into contact with some fish like this.   

If you're wanting to catch a snapper in Port Phillip bay, now is pretty much the best time to get out there! In the last couple of weeks the water temperature has risen to around the same temperature as Bass Strait, and that is when the snapper feed a lot more actively. The peak times are still generally the early morning bite, with the first few hours of daylight being the best. However in saying that, with current temperatures the fish are also feeding more throughout the day with midday and afternoon bite windows as well. 

James from Unreel Fishing Charters has been smashing the snapper with customers, with some thumpers coming aboard. James has found fish anywhere from 16 - 22m out from Frankston and Carrum, with big schools of fish out deep. James sent in a pic of his Furuno screen lighting up on a massive school of fish, with hookups of up to 10 fish at a time off schools similar to the one in the photo. If you can find them and present baits to them more than likely they will go off!

Customer Zoran went out off Carrum on the weekend where he fished in 17m of water. Zoran had some prime quality WA pilchards out and by the time the 4th rod was in the water the first one went off. Zoran kept 3 fish in the 3 - 4kg mark for a feed and headed in. Customer Be fished out wide of Black Rock just recently, where he got on the sounder and looked for a few better sized fish than the school fish in close to the reef. Be got out to about 17m of water when he marked a few nice fish, and bagged a good one at around 4kg on fresh squid head. 

Customer Bill had a look around Black Rock last weekend in the 16m area and grabbed two nice fish around the 6kg mark on fresh squid heads. The 15-17m area wide of Black Rock has been consistent over the last week. Customer Mana caught some salmon in close from Oliver's Hill last Saturday and then ventured out around Wooleys' reef in search of a red. After berleying up with cubed pilchards, Mana threw out a few rods with pilchard rigged on 6/0 circles and managed a couple of nice fish.

Compleat Angler Ringwood staff member Steve went out with a mate just recently in Port Phillip looking for a snapper, and out from Black Rock was a good area for them. Fish to 6kg came aboard using pilchard, cuttlefish and squid. Neil from Noble Park Angling Club took his son Nelson out on the bay last weekend to see if he could catch him a snapper. After a bit of cubing, a couple of the rods went off and resulted in Nelson's first snapper at 3kg. The fish were caught out in 17m off Chelsea and took pillies. 

Most anglers fishing Port Phillip at the moment are seeing red. Pinky snapper are very prolific at the moment and are being caught in just about every corner of the bay. The better areas have been around any reef structure but these fish will also cruise around over sand and mud if the food is there. The hotspots recently have been around Williamstown and Brighton through to Beaumaris Bay, and then again from Frankston through to Mt Martha. 

James from Unreel Fishing Charters has found the fishing for pinkies excellent over the last month, with some nice fish caught again this week. James is having no troubles finding fish in the 40cm size range for his customers - with the odd fish up around 1.5 - 2.5 kg finding the baits as well. James says that constant moving has been the key to finding active schools of fish, and having a good supply of baits has been helpful as well. Baits of salted pilchard along with squid and cuttlefish have been excellent, especially when fished lightly weighted on 2/0 circle hooks. More often than not they are smashed before they hit the bottom. 

While there have been plenty of smaller fish about, there are also good numbers of better sized 'snapper' between 4 - 7kg that have been roaming about. Not as many anglers have been targeting these fish, but they are around. Mt Martha, Carrum and Williamstown are good areas to search, with baits of pilchard or fresh squid. 

 

There have still been good numbers of smaller snapper around Chelsea recently, and James from Unreel Fishing Charters has been putting customers on to nice bags of fish. Kathy and Kevin went out with James during the week and took home a couple of nice fish like these 2kg model. Yakka, squid and pilchard have been the best baits, with lightly weighted circle hook rigs doing their job on the finicky snapper.

Customer Paul was fishing out from Frankston recently, where he caught this massive 91cm snapper that weighed 22lb. Paul caught the fish on a bait of squid and a 20lb outfit.

Paul said this big snapper had been a long time coming and he was over the moon when it finally came along.

 

The area out from carrum has still been producing snapper for anglers fishing a bit deeper this week, with the 16 - 19m depths giving up a few fish. Most of the snapper caught are a bit smaller in average size, with more fish between the 2 - 4kg mark lately.

Customer Daniel caught a few nice table sized pinkies out from Carrum over the weekend. He was fishing out in 18m of water where he caught pinkies to 50cm and sand flathead to the same size. Daniel said the best bait for the pinkies was strips of californian squid, while the flatties like pieces of bluebait.

 

Customer Damien sent us a report from Port Phillip where he took his parents out to catch a feed of snapper off Carrum. Damien said straight out from Carrum was a bit quiet, so a move a bit further north towards Ricketts point did the job. Using smaller pillies as bait, Damien and his parents Mary and Ray had no dramas catching a nice bag of table sized fish in under an hour. Shane from Team Jacmac took his partner out for a fish on Tuesday night out from Carrum where they got a few nice fish. shane fished in 16m of water and found that baits of pilchard and squid did the trick.

With a bit of rough weather lately, the shoreline around the Eastern side of the bay has had some nice salmon to be caught. The shore from Mordialloc right through to Seaford has been best for the salmon with small metal slugs doing the damage - and there has also been a few nice bream caught on bait as well.

Customer Robin caught 3 nice bream from the rocks down near Patterson River on soft plastics. Robin was getting pestered by smaller salmon on bait so he decided a change was in order. By Texas rigging a small soft plastic with heavier weight, he was able to slowly work the plastic back away from the salmon which resulted in a couple of nice bream which he released back to swim again.

 

Customer Damien fished out from Carrum in 18m of water on Sunday morning with his 11 year old daughter Ebony. Ebony managed to land this lovely 5.4kg snapper on just 8lb line with a kids Shimano rod and reel. A small piece of whitebait on a size 2 circle hook stayed safely in the snapper's jaw throughout the 10 minute fight.

Customers Damien and Christian fished out from Carrum towards Chelsea on the weekend where they managed a few fish to 3.5kg on both pilchard and silver whiting. The guys found that constantly moving to find fish and consistent berley was the key to catching a few.

 

Customer Damien fished out from Chelsea in 14m of water on Sunday morning. After berleying up with some Zealcol triple scent snapper berley and cubed pilchards, his first rod went off. After a frantic session Damien caught and released over 10 fish. 

James from Unreel Fishing Charters took a group out from Chelsea over the weekend where the group did really well on school sized fish. The better depth area was between 13 - 15m with pilchard and scad baits being effective.

 

Staff member Chris fished out from Chelsea over the weekend to land snapper up to 6kg. Chris caught all his fish on pillies fished on Port Phillip 'squid rigs' in 16m of water. You can see the pink squid hanging out of the snapper's mouth here. When rigged correctly, the squid covers the pillie and makes it look like a feeding squid, which is easy prey for any snapper. Ask Chris about these rigs if you want to increase your snapper results when they are finicky.

 

There have been some nice snapper roaming about out from Carrum lately, with most anglers targeting the fish in 15 - 18m of water. The best way to catch these fish is to anchor off the schools and berley them back towards the boat and your baits, and smaller baits of squid and pilchard have been best lately.

Customers Dave and Anthony fished in 18m of water straight out from Carrum on Sunday morning to land snapper to around 4.5kg on a variety of baits, including pilchard and squid - with squid heads being the best.

Customer Jacques also fished out from Carrum early Saturday morning where he landed a nice 4.5kg fish on pilchard. Jacques was fishing in 18m of water.