By Craig Edmonds of Jim’s Bait and Tackle

THE snapper reports are becoming very regular now with the change in the weather finally warming things up and providing some calmer conditions. The boat ramps were busy over the weekend and those who were out early or later into the evening did the best. During the middle of the day it was difficult everywhere, land and boats, and it took a bit of extra work and trying a few different things to catch fish. Those who were successful fishing during the day tried different things, drifting not anchoring, running a cocktail of baits, using a few lures and soft plastics and fishing in spots they normally don’t fish. We are getting plenty of comments in the shop about how slow the fishing is this year and how slowly it has started. Reading back through my diary I can agree with the starting slowly compared to other years, although last year was an exception with a very good October both for weather and probably the peak for the reports, also November was very ordinary for weather with this weekend last year only 16 deg and the bay was only 14 deg still and had dropped temperature from October. Reading further back for this time of the year and I think sometimes we forget from year to year the timing of when the fish are in because over the last few years of reports the only thing that has been a constant is every year is different. From where we stand behind the counter and reading back over old reports it seems about right with the snapper, whiting and calamari, however it is a very different year.
The snapper reports increased significantly over the weekend which probably had a lot to do with the 100’s of boats out there, especially on Saturday. Not a lot of bigger ones this week but plenty around the 4kg to 5kg mark and even a handful of smaller pinkies. The pattern for the last week has been deeper early morning and as the day goes on into the shallower areas over the corals with a couple of evenings the mud off coronet bay the best spot to be. The last few weeks the bait of choice has been pilchards, but things evened out a bit this week with plenty of reports on squid. Two areas have been better first thing and even before light, the channel off Elizabeth island and the deeper water off Rhyll with many reporting that once the sun got above the horizon it was all over. Although the snapper are starting to hit the baits a bit harder now several customers are still reporting they are not taking the baits and letting it go as soon as they feel any weight. If this is happening to you lighten off your drag as much as possible, I am being told, until the tide just isn’t taking line. The other thing common to the better reports from in the deeper water is the rig of choice is a running sinker with a long leader, to get it up off the bottom a bit further and two snelled hooks. The hook size doesn’t seem too important and the reports are of anything from 4/0 to 8/0 just both snelled and not one as a sliding hook. Some are using small baits and others big baits and again this doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on the size of fish you might catch. Those catching snapper during the day though are reporting that a paternoster or a snapper snatcher rig is being more productive, the fish are smaller, and the middle of the day is where most of the pinkie reports have come from.
Whiting are continuing to be at their frustrating best with still no consistency to them despite the reports improving. I have several customers that I would consider to be some of my better whiting fishermen that have barely managed a feed. There has been a few windows in the weather that has been favourable to whiting fishing, but we are still seeing a lot of wind on tide or wind side on to the tide which makes it difficult. Although no one is catching big numbers the quality is remaining and a couple of them make a very good feed for tea and are worth the effort. Those successful are fishing more in the evening and into the night than during the day, or even early morning. Like the snapper the whiting are difficult to find during the day and even worse on the very sunny days. any whiting reports I had from during the day came from those fishing deeper and even a couple from in the channels taking snapper baits and larger hooks.
There have been one or two chances to head offshore this week and while conditions were ok they weren’t dead flat and the breaks in the weather short. You didn’t get much of a chance to look around and only had long enough to target one area and if you got it right it didn’t take you long to get a few meals of flathead. The flathead I had reported were all good size, around 36cm to 45cm and were in reasonable numbers. The best of the reports came from in front of the glass house in about 30m of water and seemed to be in a small patch that if you went back over a couple of times you got plenty. A couple of other customers reported fishing off the cape and even further down towards the wind mills but little success.

Protecting stingrays, skates and banjos

Veteran San Remo fisherman Bill Wintle caught and kindly released this banjo shark while fishing for snapper in Western Port recently. N014617

BETTER protection for stingrays, skates and guitarfish or ‘banjo sharks’ in Victoria was announced recently.
Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford announced in Parliament that from November 7, recreational fishing rules will be strengthened to ensure these beautiful animals are treated with respect.
The new rules are the product of extensive public consultation during winter, which attracted almost 1200 submissions – the vast majority of which supported increased protection for these species.
The new rules will: prohibit the taking or possessing of stingrays, skates or guitarfish greater than 1.5 metres in width – reduce the combined daily bag limit for rays, skates and guitarfish less than 1.5 metres wide from five to 1 – prohibit the take of these species within 400 metres of any pier, jetty, wharf or breakwater – require these species to be landed whole so they can be measured by Fisheries Officers.
To support the introduction of the new rules this spring, dedicated Victorian Fisheries Authority officers will undertake Operation Liberty to educate anglers on the water and encourage responsible fishing.
More signage will be erected on piers around Port Phillip, Western Port and along Victoria’s coast to raise awareness among the fishing community, promote the new rules and illustrate good handling practises.
Existing fishing regulations will continue to require anglers to return unwanted or undersize species to the water with the least possible injury.