By Craig Edmonds of Jim’s Bait and Tackle, San Remo

VERY slowly things are starting to improve, but I think it will be a few weeks yet before things really get going, and maybe it’ll be back to what it was a few years ago, firing up around grand final weekend. Having said that, I think it is more about the weather rather than whether the fish have come in.
We seem to be getting that early spring weather now, with unsettled windy days, and it’s just a lot colder than early spring usually is. The water got very cold this year and is still only around 10 degrees, so it’s going to take a lot of sun and a bit of time before it gets to the magic snapper feeding temperature of 15 or 16 degrees. This is not to say that you won’t be able to catch any snapper at the moment, the reports say otherwise, but don’t expect the big hits and long runs that snapper are known for. As is often the case in the early season, the snapper are very timid on the bite, and plenty are missed by people thinking they are just annoying flathead! While you never know exactly what is pinching your baits, over the time we have been in the shop I have seen many cases where customers have had what they thought to be an annoying flathead, and have then landed a good size snapper. While I am not saying that every bite is a snapper, what I am saying is head out, work at it and don’t assume anything.
The reports generally have been patchy but promising, and they are on the improve as the opportunities to get out fishing increase. There was a good patch of land based calamari fishing during the week, but it only lasted a few days and then the wind changed and they turned off the bite. At the same time, they were being caught in Cleeland Bight, we had a couple of reports from the jetties in San Remo and Cowes. Baited jigs were the best this week as the water is still a bit dirty and there is a bit of weed around. When there is weed in the water the baited jigs work a little better, because once even the smallest piece of weed gets on the artificial jigs they are as good as useless.
Snapper reports have increased from both land and boat, but one or two fish doesn’t mean they are on and that you will bag out each time you go out. The reports we are getting from land are mostly from the Cowes jetty, with the other reports coming from off the not so popular snapper spots. We have had a couple of rumoured snapper caught from Newhaven jetty, but they were directly reported so I am not totally confident about their accuracy. There are a few more of us out there looking for them at all the usual snapper land based spots, so no doubt the reports will increase over the next few weeks. Insofar as boating is concerned, there appears to be no pattern at all, which is nothing too surprising for this early in the season. Several of the reports we had this week were from the channels, which makes sense as the snapper will be still coming into the bay. Of course, the problem with fishing in the channels is it is exactly where the stingrays swim, and there has been no shortage of them caught. On a brighter note, and despite the cold water, we have had very few draughtboard sharks reported over the last couple of weeks.
While those targeting the snapper have had a few opportunities to get out in the boat, the whiting fishermen have struggled with the winds and tides, which have been no good for them. We have had a couple of whiting reports but they were more of an accidental catch, with even those who reported them telling us they didn’t get much of a chance with the wind blowing sideways to the tide.