When it comes to catching snapper in Port Phillip Bay, Brett Reed AKA ‘Reedy’ is a certified gun with years of experience catching these big red fish. While most Fishos wait until October or even November to get the snapper gear out, Reedy says there’s plenty of ripper snapper fishing to be had starting as early as late August. Keep reading if you want to hear his best tips to catch an early season snapper.
Tip 1: Fish shallow reefs instead of sounding arches
When fishing for early season snapper, I focus my efforts on the edges of natural reefs in the shallower reaches of Port Phillip Bay such as Black Rock. Instead of trying to find fish on the sounder, I’ll find a nice-looking reef in about 7 metres of water and will anchor up so that I can fish the edge. A hot tip is to use Google Earth to scope out the reefs before your boat even touches the water. These shallow areas are a great spot to chase early season snapper and although you might not catch big numbers of fish, catching one or two big ones will get the reel screaming and the adrenaline pumping.
Tip 2: Patience is key
Being patient is super important when you’re chasing snapper in general. You can definitely catch fish at this time of year but it’s not always easy going. It’s important to trust the process - come up with a plan and stick to it so that you’re not second guessing yourself and moving around too often. I find that a good approach is to focus your efforts on a particular tide and see it through. You’re always in with a chance on the run-in tide, especially if it coincides with sunset or early morning. If you don’t catch a red in the tide that you’ve chosen, you can always try for some squid which are an awesome year-round option in the bay.
Tip 3: Avoid too much burley
Try not to burley too much. In peak snapper season we’ll cube up some pillies and throw handfuls of them around the boat. We try to stay away from this in the early season as the fish are feeding less in the colder temperatures and we don’t want to fill them up on pieces of pilchard. Instead, we fill up the berley pot with a combination of pellets, pilchards, and sometimes even some tuna oil and drop that down to the bottom. That way we can attract the snapper without filling their bellies and have a better chance of a bait getting eaten. In terms of bait, a pilchard can be hard to beat at this time of year. It pays to have a mix of different offerings including a full pilly or a piece of fish or squid on a Reedy's Rigz Ultra Rig.
Tip 4: Find your own spot
Get away from other boats and find your own spot. It’s very common for people to get out there and just anchor up where everyone else is however in the early season the fish are on the move and can be anywhere. Look for those reefs we spoke about earlier and anchor up. The fish at this time of the year are a little bit more selective so it pays to get away from the crowd.
Tip 5: Keep an eye on the conditions
When the right conditions come together, you’re a great chance of catching an early season red. But what are those conditions? In my experience, I’ve found that the days leading up to the full moon are a great time to be on the water and this is when the snapper are most active. This isn’t just a great time for an early season red but will be useful in all of your snapper fishing. Another great time to fish is in the lead up to hot/good weather because of the barometric pressure. When Jane Bunn gets on the TV and says there’s some good weather following a patch of rainy or cloudy weather it’s time to load up the boat and get out there!
Tip 6: Fish the spots you’ve previously had success at
History repeats itself and if you’ve caught fish in one spot the year before, there’s a good chance they’ll be back there at the same time the next year. We’ve noticed that the snapper migration follows a similar pattern each year on both the Eastern and Western sides of the bay. For this reason, it’s a top idea to keep note of when you catch fish and what the conditions were so that you can revisit the same places in years to come. The best way to learn is to get out there’s and have a crack, there’s no substitute for spending time on the water, which leads us to our next point…
Tip 7: Spend time on the water
Get out there and have a crack. Whenever you’re out on the water you’re a chance of catching a fish and if you wait for the perfect conditions you’ll be waiting forever. There’s a reason they call it fishing instead of catching and every trip is an opportunity to learn more and improve. Plus, there are plenty of other great options in the bay if the snapper aren’t biting such as squid and king george whiting which are both awesome fun on light gear and taste great too.
There’s no big secret to catching snapper in Port Phillip Bay and although these tips will go a long way to improving your chances, the best thing you can do is to load up the boat, grab a bag of pillies from your local BCF and give it a red-hot crack. There’s nothing that beats the adrenaline of seeing a rod bend under the pressure of a big snapper and the reward is well worth the time spent out on the water. So don’t wait until the peak of snapper season to go fishing, there’s plenty of opportunity to get an early season red!
About Reedys Rigz
Reedy's Rigz started with a range of pre-made fishing rigs built for catching snapper known as the ‘Ultra Snapper Rig’ and have expanded to include whiting rigs (Tinganoster) as well as a range of hooks including the popular 187 Lumo hook which are perfect for Snapper. All Reedy’s Rigz are built from quality terminal tackle. Check them out in store or online at BCF.