Neil with a quality snapper off the corals.

With Jim’s Bait and Tackle

I have been making mention of the Victorian State Government plastic bag ban over the last few weeks and it came into force as of November 1. It has been great to see over the weekend a lot of our customers bringing in their own bags or eskies. It will take a bit of getting used to, both from customers but also from us in the best bags to now use.
We have gone to heavy duty paper bags and the non-woven shopping bag style and still looking at getting some cooler bags printed. The surprising change over the weekend was while we had plastic bags, 90 per cent of people would ask for a bag and now, they are banned we have very few people at all ask for a bag. Probably shows we could have done without them all along.
All we need to do now is get all fishermen to dispose of their bait bags correctly and it will take some of the focus off fishing being a major cause of the rubbish found on the beaches.
If you have been on the foreshore at San Remo over the last few weeks or over the next few months you might have seen or could see, what appears someone using a rod and reel tangled with a Pelican. It also shows how people jump to conclusions without knowing all the facts and how rumours start. Despite several people coming into the shop telling us how, “another fisherman has tangled with a pelican while fishing” and “they need to do something and ban people fishing around these areas” it isn’t what it seems.
While I am not saying it doesn’t happen in this case it is perfectly above board and is part of a research program that has gone through many months of applying for the permits to be able to tag the pelicans and later use satellite tracking devices to study the bird’s movements. If you do see them on the beach give them a little space while they are trying to catch the birds but once finished, they are more than happy to speak to you about the program and answer all your questions.
Fishing this long weekend has been a bit of a struggle with some ordinary weather at times keeping their boats on the trailers but some of those who did persevere found a couple of quality fish.
The fishing before the weekend was much better and the reports were coming in regularly. Most are chasing snapper and Sunday was the first morning we saw the typical snapper line of boats from Rhyll to Elizabeth across the corals. At the same time a few whiting fishermen found a quiet corner and managed some good numbers. Over the weekend we had a handful of good gummies reported and plenty of undersized ones also.
Land-based fishermen did it a bit tougher with the windy weather stirring up lots of weed, making fishing difficult if not impossible at times.
Snapper is the species almost everyone is chasing at the moment and we have had some very good fish reported but as is always the case, plenty of empty fish bins also. The most successful with the snapper are lucky enough to get their timing 100% right, mostly locals and don’t necessarily spend hours on the water but will fish a few times-a-week.
The evening has been the most successful when we have had a bit of warmer weather during the day or the other successful time has been on daybreak, that is for the bigger fish. Those fishing daylight hours, especially through the middle of the day have found mostly small pinkies. For numbers of snapper, from the reports we have been getting the morning is best in the deeper water and Rhyll around Observation Point and Silverleaves but once the sun gets above the horizon they stop. At the other end of the bay it has been best to head to the shallow ends of the bay, not quite as far up as the mud but the shallower end of the corals.
It is normally better when there is a tide change around the change of light at either end of the day and that’s what we had last week and the reason for the reports being so good.
Most of the better snapper we had reported were above the 4kg mark with the best for the week, an 8.8kg model from around Elizabeth island early morning. Squid and pilchards accounted for most with other baits like, fresh couta, tuna, salmon and saurys also successful.
Whiting numbers have been good, but the sizes are all over the place and not a lot of consistency with customers reporting fish between 25cm and 45cm in one session.
We have also had a lot of complaints about other fish in with the whiting and it is taking plenty of patience to get a decent bag. Those who did report good bags of whiting said it took some time, but they didn’t move and just persevered through the rubbish and smaller fish. The reports were consistent with the same story and said berley was a help but also bought the rubbish fish.
It was a case of a patch of whiting would come through and then a school of leather jackets would seem to scare them off, then the whiting would come back and it just went that way for the whole time. That was the pattern in the shallower areas around Dickies Bay and reef island with the better size of whiting, or at least the more consistent size came from the deeper water. I have several customers that now fish in deeper water along the edges of the various channels in the bay, Newhaven channel and along French Island near Ram Island especially. You are fishing in water up to 10m so a little different than the setup you would use in 1.5m of water but can be as productive once you master it.
Calamari reports just continue to come in both from the land and boats with the most popular spots productive over the long weekend. The popular spots are of course the most advertised so naturally visitors will go straight to them and the reason for the majority of the catches. In reality calamari reports come from everywhere in the bay now, especially boats and you should take a jig with you all the time and while waiting for other fish to come along have a few casts. The size is still very respectable, but we did start to hear of some of the smaller ones being caught. Those fishing in the more traditional spots didn’t really give any indication to a pattern with reports from most times of the day and tide. If anything, the change of tide was slightly better but only just. It was more about finding the time of the tide when the weed was at its least. Artificial jigs are definitely the better way to go now and 90% of the reports are coming back from those using them, something with white in it the best colour, but I would still increase your chances and have a baited jig out under a float.