Catching snapper in Western Port, a large tidal bay in Victoria, Australia, can be an exciting and rewarding experience, especially during the early season. The tactics can vary based on a variety of factors including weather conditions, tides, and water temperature.
G’day, I’m Brett Reed, and if you’re as keen as I am about fishing, then you’ll love the early season for snapper in Western Port. This tidal bay in Victoria is a fishing haven, but landing a snapper here isn’t just about luck. You’ve got to consider several factors like the weather, tides, and water temperature to up your game.
Now, let me let you in on a little secret. If you really want to get your hands on a snapper, mark your calendar for the lead-up to the full moon in late August or early September. That’s when the first runs of snapper make their grand entrance into Western Port. Trust me, it’s like clockwork; these beauties migrate from the ocean into the bay every single year around this time. So gear up and get ready to catch yourself a prize snapper!
While some schools of fish may have entered the bay, that doesn’t guarantee they’ll be easy to catch. Due to the low water temperatures, they might only feed once a day in the early season. When the water is between 12-14 degrees Celsius, my years of fishing experience suggest that the best strategy is to fish on warm afternoons, What’s crucial at this time of year is to fish at depths no greater than 7 meters & a big tide can Help. while you can still catch fish in the deep but the odds go up in the Shallows.
Preparation and Fishing Equipment .
When it comes to the tools of the trade, I swear by my setup of four rods, each between 8-10kg. I pair these rods with 6000-size reels, and I don’t skimp on line strength — we’re talking 30lb to 40lb braided line. Now, onto the business end. I tie a shock leader ( 2m 3m long ) to that braid, and from there, it’s a classic Western Port rig with a 40lb leader and twin snelled hooks.
Now, listen up because this is crucial: for the best shot at landing an early-season snapper, you want to use fresh calamari squid that you’ve caught the very same day. I bait these onto a pair of Snelled 187 hooks — these hooks are razor-sharp, and believe me, that makes a world of difference.
Fresh bait is always king, but don’t get me wrong, I’d still use frozen calamari if that’s what’s on hand. In my four-rod spread, I’ll typically rig up all but one with calamari. That last rod? I like to mix it up with a meaty bait like pilchard, barracuda, or salmon. Mixing it up can be the difference-maker, folks.
Where & When Will I Catch an Early Season Snapper in Western Port?
In the early season, you’ve got to keep your distance from other boats. Seriously, clustering in a group of boats this early is just asking for trouble. Why? Because there are only a few feeding fish around, and if we’re all packed in like sardines, we’re essentially snatching fish from each other’s hooks. It’s pointless to fish near others at this time of year, especially since the fish aren’t even schooling up yet. So, do yourself a favor and find your own slice of water, away from the crowds. Trust me, your catch rate will .
One of the coolest things about early-season snapper is their unpredictability. These fish are just rolling into Western Port, so they can literally turn up anywhere. They’re not just hanging around in one spot; they’re on the move, either looping around the port. or Swiming up and back from the flats with the tide.
Now, this brings me to my next point: forget about using your sounder to locate fish at this time of year. Seriously, what’s the point? These fish are in shallow waters, sometimes just 5 meters deep. By the time your boat motor passes over them, you’ve probably spooked ’em and sent them darting off. So save yourself the hassle and trust your instincts instead of tech when it comes to early-season snapper fishing in Western Port.
While it might not be the best tool for locating fish directly, it’s invaluable for mapping out the underwater landscape. Personally, I love using it to find things like reefs, drop-offs, and edges. But here’s my golden ticket: spots where the water depth changes dramatically, almost like a natural ramp for the fish to the shallows . These areas are prime real estate for ambushing fish as the tide moves. Think of it like a fish highway
When it comes to drag settings, I go with a stiffer drag than you might expect in WP. Why? Simple, it’s all about setting the hook properly. A tighter drag gives you that extra ‘oomph’ to ensure the hook is well-seated in the snapper’s mouth. So, don’t be shy about dialing up that drag a bit; it could be the difference between a fish tale and fish dinner.
You’ll notice that these fish don’t just nibble in shallower waters; they downright slam the bait. I’m talking full-on rod buckles when you’re fishing in depths of 5 meters or less. It’s like they’re more committed to the bite in these shallower spots.
Contrast this with deeper waters, where you might experience some frustrating moments—like dropped fish or half-hearted rod bends, also known as half-buckles. To up your odds of a successful catch in any depth, I can’t stress enough the importance of razor-sharp hooks. They’re not just a good idea; they’re an absolute must. Keep ’em sharp, and you’ll turn those nibbles and half-buckles into solid, fish-on-the-boat moments.
Choosing the Right Bait Hooks for Snapper Fishing in Western Port
You’ve got to make sure your bait sits right in the current. The last thing you want is for your bait to spin, which can deter snapper from biting. A simple way to prevent this is to test how your bait moves in the water before casting it out.
For the early season, I prefer using offset hooks. Not only do these improve hook-ups,
let’s debunk a myth: this notion that bait has to be perfectly straight on an inline circle hook is total nonsense. I’ve fished in both Western Port and other bays, and I’ve never had an issue using offset hooks. In fact, I actively prefer them precisely because they offer a better hook-up rate.
setting the record straight on offset hooks. Sure, they might be banned in some tournaments, but do you know why? Because they’re just too effective. They provide solid, stomach hook-ups that are almost too good to be true.
But let’s be real, most of us aren’t fishing in tournaments. We’re out here for the thrill of the catch and, frankly, the more secure the hook-up, the better. So don’t let tournament rules steer you away from using what works. Offset hooks are a go-to for a reason, especially when it comes to nabbing that elusive early-season snapper.