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

It’s been a bit of an on and off season for the snapper in Westernport Bay but when the barometer starts rising like it did last week, they come back on the bite and plenty of people bagged out. Here’s a photo of a nice one caught by Les Lambert of Nyora with the following message attached: “Hello my dad caught a big snapper out from Corinella on Tuesday, December 12. Can you put it in the paper?” No problem.

THIS is our last report before Christmas and don’t forget to keep your photos and reports coming in: we might be a bit too busy to spend time on the phone but email, text or a message through Facebook will get to us. Over the next few weeks keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram pages, because as we get reports or photos we will post them so you can see where the best spots are. It will also be well worth your while checking in on our Facebook page with our summer competitions. Soon there will be plenty of tourists down visiting the island and yes things will get busy everywhere as it does every Christmas. While this can be an inconvenience if you are a local it is only for a short time then it will be back to normal again as everyone goes home. And while you are complaining about the crowds have a think about how far you would need to drive to get to the shops or for services if we didn’t have the influx of tourists that, in many cases, contribute up to 70% of a business’s yearly income! The tourist trade is for most the only reason that they can survive through the winter and remain open for locals to use the rest of the year, so hopefully the weather is fine and brings plenty of visitors that leave lots of money behind.
It will be a busy time at the ramps and on the roads, but you can avoid a lot of this by timing when you launch and retrieve. We find most of the visitors will launch late morning and will come back mid to late afternoon. The best times generally are very early morning, early to mid-afternoon and late in the evening, so time your fishing around these times and you will find it not too bad. This will depend a lot on the tides as well, but you will generally find visitors will fish times of the day more than the tide times. The other thing that will help you get in and out of the water quicker is if you see someone struggling give some friendly advice which will speed things up for them, also speeding things up for you.
The strange season of both weather and reports is continuing with neither settled in December as yet. The temperature of the water in the bay has reduced again back to what you would expect from the high temperatures we saw in November, and the wind has dictated where you can fish, with it often being against the tide. There have been some very favourable offshore days which is not always the case for this time of the year, and we have had some reports to match the conditions. The bay, even on the good days, has been a struggle, more to get good numbers of fish than to find the fish, and with the early run of visitors before Christmas we are seeing more land based fishing and because of that getting more reports.
Offshore flathead have been the best for many years, until the last week or so where the reports are telling me it is getting harder to find them, and they seem to be in much smaller schools. There were a couple of reasonable reports, but most customers were telling me that they struggled and really only just got a feed. Not much has changed other than a bit more swell the last week or so, which sometimes turns them off, but others say it will have something to do with the boats working during the night that seem to be getting closer to shore than normal. However, whatever the reason let’s hope it’s only a temporary hiccup and they will be back on soon.
For those who know where they are the gummies are still there although the swell makes it a bit more difficult to catch them as well.
As yet there have only been a couple of rumoured sightings of kingfish, out around Cape Paterson, unlike the ones that are currently being caught off the prom.
The best reports this week were of makos, with more reported before Christmas than for some years. They have been the usual smaller 20kg to 30kg ones that we used to see this time of the year, and in the area you also expect to find them around the windmills, in about 40m of water. Those who have caught them this season so far have told me that they are reasonably aggressive also, and not the usual passive early season sharks. I would say that this is a sign that the water is a bit warmer than normal.
In the bay we have had some good reports of bags of whiting and plenty of reports of not many or any at all. The problem is there no pattern or reason at all to the reports we are getting, and it makes it almost impossible to give very accurate advice. We have several customers who say they have worked it out, the only problem is every one of them has a different method which again makes no sense. The whiting reports are coming from both above and below the bridge and some of the whiting are extremely good in quality, up to 48cm and fat. The only difference we have noticed over the last couple of weeks from the reports we are getting, is that small whiting are starting to show up now. If there is anything I could tell you to maybe help you to target them, it is that all the reports we have had are coming from this side of the bay and customers who are fishing around Cowes and Ventnor are finding nothing.
Pinkies are showing up, but the reports are patchy, and they are very much in tune with the barometer. When it is up, which hasn’t been too often lately, the pinkie reports are good, but when it is dropping the reports turn off. Almost all of the reports have come from the Corals area, but not just in one spot. The middle was the best for a few days, but recently closer to Rhyll is reportedly better. The pinkies are of a good size as well, and 38cm to 42cm is common, with not a lot of very small ones shown up yet.
We will be closed on Christmas day but then opening again at 6.00am on Boxing Day. We will then be open at 6.00am everyday till the January 28. We can open earlier by arrangement if you need to pick up some bait or supplies. We are open until at least 5.00pm every day, and often later than this on the good weather days, so if you are running a bit late give us a call as we might still be at the shop.
From myself, Robyn and Melanie, have a happy Christmas and stay safe on the water and the roads, especially if you are travelling to unfamiliar places. Hopefully you will have plenty of time to head out for a fish with the family, and if you are visiting then drop in to get all the uptodate information you will need for a successful day’s fishing.