September is a special month for Victorians. With the winter chill almost gone, footy finals fever begins to linger in the air. However, it’s what’s going on in the water that drives anglers around the state into a frenzy! Grand Final weekend is the unofficial start of snapper season in Victoria, and is when the real excitement starts for anglers wanting to hook up with a big red. Although snapper fishing in the bay never disappoints, it can be a hard slog some days to find the fish. But don’t worry, the BCFing experts are here to help and have put together a guide to help you get onto some great snapper in Port Phillip Bay.
What gear will I need?
For this hard-fighting fish, you’ll need some pretty robust gear. Pairing a 4000-size spinning reel with a 4-8kg spinning rod will allow you to handle even the biggest snapper in Port Phillip Bay. For a bit of extra grunt, pairing a 6000-size spinning reel with a 6-10kg spinning rod is the way to go. Spool this up with some 15lb or 20lb mono line and away you go!
What rig should I use?
To catch snapper in the bay there are two main rigs that you should have at your disposal. Tie both with 20-40lb leader line and use high-quality terminal tackle.
The first is a ‘paternoster’ style rig, also known as a ‘snapper snatcher’. This involves tying a sinker to the bottom of the rig, with a 4/0 or 5/0 circle hook hanging from a dropper loop that you can tie higher up the line by about 60cm. Connect the rig to your mainline (the line coming directly from your reel) with a strong rolling swivel.
The running sinker is the other rig which all snapper fishos should know how to put together. This involves tying either a single hook, or snelling two hooks to the end of your leader, then threading on a glow bead above the hook and a ball sinker directly above this. The leader line is then attached to the main line with a high-quality rolling swivel to prevent line twist.
Pick up some pre-made rigs from your local BCF to save time tying your own.
What are the best baits?
There are a wide variety of baits that you can use to catch snapper, with squid, pilchard and silver whiting making up the three most popular baits. Although fresh bait is generally better, snapper fishos should never leave home without a bag of pillies as they are a great bait and can be chopped up into little cubes for burley.
Do I need to use burley?
Burleying is the release of fish-attracting material into the water and is an essential component of snapper fishing in Port Phillip Bay. There are a number of different options to use for burley, including pellets, diced up pilchards and fish oils. If you’re lucky enough to have a mate that gets seasick, bring them along, as they can also be a great source of burley! A regular stream of burley is best, so use a little bit, often. BCF also has a range of burley pots to help you release your burley into the water slowly.Hot tip: To supercharge your burley, combine burley pellets with tuna oil in a bucket the night before you go snapper fishing.
What about soft plastics?
Soft plastic lures are a great way to target snapper and there are a range of styles that will be super popular with the reds. Z-man, Daiwa, Berkley and Savage Gear are all great brands that produce a myriad of soft plastics which can be used to catch snapper. Soft plastics ranging from 5 to 8 inches are a great choice for big snapper, with Jerk Shads, Paddle Tails and Curl Tails all getting the job done. Nuclear chicken and motor oil are two must-have soft plastic colours when snapper fishing. You can consult our Soft Plastics Buyers Guide for more information about choosing the right soft plastics for not only snapper, but for a range of other species as well.
How do I find the fish?
The fish could be anywhere in the bay at the peak of snapper season. Mornington, Williamstown, Altona and Black Rock are some of the most popular locations to catch a red. Boat-based anglers can benefit greatly from using a fishfinder to mark up the fish. It pays to drive around in water at depths of 8 - 20 metres until some clear arches appear stacked up, like a Christmas tree on your screen. Once this happens, you’ve hit the jackpot! Drop your anchor upwind of the mark and get fishing! For land-based anglers, big snapper can be caught at several accessible locations. The rocks at the end of the ‘Warmies’ in Williamstown usually offer some protection on overly windy days, whilst Mornington Pier fishes well after a spell of poor weather and has seen some huge reds being caught. Kerferd Road Pier and Lagoon Pier in Port Melbourne are also popular spots to catch a snapper during the warmer months.
Although snapper fishing can be a hard slog, the sound of a screaming reel, and the ensuing fight with a ripper snapper makes all the hard work worth it at the end of the day. So, what are you waiting for? Gear up with BCF and have a crack at landing a big red this snapper season.