How to catch Snapper during Snapper Season in Victoria Australia - Snapper Fishing Map
Snapper Season in Victoria Australia
Snapper can be captured right around the southern mainland coast of Australia. It has been identified from years of research by Victorian, South Australian and Western Australian state government authorities that there are five separate subspecies, which carry different genetic makeup. Western Australia’s snapper inhabitants are made up of two separate species. South Australia has one distinct group, whilst Victoria has a subspecies to its western side and the fifth species stretches from eastern Victoria right up to the central coast of Queensland.
Snapper typically migrate in a slow pattern, they may inhabit the same reef for months on end, if it has an abundance of food supply. However, once they are on the move, they have been known to travel at a rate of up to two kilometres per day. Sometimes grazing along the way or simply moving from reef system to reef system.
Snapper Fishing Map
Snapper that have been caught, tagged, released and monitored in Victoria’s Mallacoota were then caught as far as Lennox Head in far NSW. This is a distance of more than 1300 kilometres. One thing in common between all the subspecies is that they move seasonally between offshore and inshore waters. The species can be located as far as the continental shelf and in as close as the bays and inland salt water estuaries. It is the inshore migration that gets Australian anglers excited each year, as the snapper become within casting distance and or access to reefs via small power boats and paddle craft.
The following information has been gathered over a large number of years from seasoned veterans around Victorian angling clubs.
Snapper are caught and encountered around the whole of the Victorian state. From the South Australian boarder right through to the boarder of NSW. Victoria during the peak of its season is arguably the most consistent snapper fishery on the planet. For Victorian anglers, snapper season is the pinnacle event of the year. Most Victorian’s are obsessed with sports and in particularly Australian Rules Football, and when the season comes to an end, these sports crazed fans usually divide into two separate groups, (well at least until the cricket seasons starts) the first group turn their attention to horse racing. The other more intelligent group of people will start to turn their focus onto hunting snapper. They will spend countless hours preparing their boats and gear, ready for action. They generally go through a spending spree at the local tackle shop or give their credit card a jolly good workout via online shopping. New bait-casters, new line, new terminal tackle, and they usually stock up on pre-made rigs. This is a ritual enjoyed by many Victorian fishermen.
Starting out near Portland snapper are caught on all the offshore reefs and from inland locations. The best months are from November to April.
A couple of great local spots around Portland are Narrawong beach and Discovery Bay. It would be definitely worth your while to also check out the main breakwater at Portland harbor as it is known to produce the goods regularly.
The mighty Fitzroy river mouth runs out at Narrawong beach and over the years fish up to 6kg have been regularly captured there, however, the average size is usually more than 2kg.
About 5km offshore from Portland in the direction of Lady Julia Percy Island there is an area of rubble ground known as the Splat, this is very common spot for boaties. Portland harbor anglers target snapper from early November through to late March. You can fish the breakwater which is super productive. Surf fishermen can anticipate great results from Logans beach at Warnambool while Newfield and Crofts Bay at Peterborough are outstanding hunting grounds for pinkies up to 2 kg. Big snapper from 6-10kg range are caught regularly around Portland. Snapper move frequently up and down the west coast of Victoria and can be caught all the way along the coast right into Port Phillip Bay.
Seas around Cape Otway are considered extremely good grounds, while offshore fishermen need to very mindful of weather condition as seas can become very rough quickly. It would pay to have a good chart connected to your sounding device.
One the most consistent big fish localities is found at the bottom of Mt Defiance mid-way between Apollo Bay and Lorne on the Great Ocean Road.
Predominantly the seabed offshore is reef ground and is super productive for foraging snapper. Anglers who are sure footed and don’t mind risking the rock ledges at the base of Mt Defiance will be rewarded well. The biggest issue you will have here is the heavy weed growth which will cause a few lost fish.
Lorne has some productive reefs offshore if you have a boat, while the land based fisherman can fish the Lorne Pier which provides loads of variety from snapper to flathead and everything in between. You can also fish off Jump rock which is a great spot for your smaller snapper. Just be mindful of the surfers whom launch of the rocks. When the waves are pumping it can get very busy here.
Heading toward Port Phillip Heads, Fishermen Beach and Whites Beach in Torquay is a really good spot during the midsummer, here you will most likely reach your bag limit with most fish around 2.5 kg. For those with the boat there are many offshore reefs which hold plenty of snapper. Also during the warmer months Bancoora Surf Beach and Black Rock are really consistent spots. Although the water quality around Black Rock is arguably poor, due to a sewer outflow pipe. (Eat fish at own risks)
The majority of Victorian snapper anglers ascend on to Port Phillip Bay by boat, kayak and any means possible, when the season comes around. Snapper start arriving through the Port Phillip Heads in full force during the spring. The old timers believe the amount of rain and wind that the Heads receive during early spring, has the greatest determining factor of how good the snapper season will be. The wind and rain help to stir up the water clarity, this gives the snapper far more coverage in which to dart through the Heads into the bay. The migration of fish through the Heads can be so thick, that many locals refer to it as the “crimson tide”. The bulk of the fish flow back out of the Heads and back into the open ocean in the autumn.
Early in the season, anglers hit it hard, perhaps they go so hard for a number of factors, one, the anglers are suffering from fishing withdrawals over winter, or two, just the shear excitement knowing that the fish have entered the bay. Many old timers have offered me this tip, ‘don’t jump the gun & wait for the full run’. Many times I had made this mistake of fishing hard, in late August and early September. This has never worked out well for me. This might be dependent on the location in which you fish and if you have access to the outer reefs of Port Phillip. However, the old timers did confirm with me that the good size snapper will not be on the -pp;linner reef systems until later in the season. Based on this, I adjusted the times of the season that I would start chasing snapper. This had a dramatic effect on my catch rate. You could argue that you will catch the odd big one here or there in the early part of the season, but rarely will you hit your bag limit.
The fist runs of fish into the bay are usually followed by a few lone wolfs. Once the snapper are inside the bay the schools seem to split into two different groups, one migrating around the eastern shore line toward Mornington and the other directed on the western shore line.
Snapper movements around the bay aren’t as logical as one might conceive. For example, Corio bay is halfway along the western shore of Port Phillip, however some of the first big snapper are caught in August around Corio bay, and three weeks prior to the run at St Lenards. So in theory, the fish must double back toward St Lenards a few weeks later. I guess this tells us that they don’t always come directly through the Heads and necessarily travel all the way up to the northern part of the bay. Another theory to this is that the fish that come on the chew early in Cario Bay are perhaps resident fish whom never left the bay after spawning, and as the water starts to warm their metabolism kicks in around August and they begin to feed hard again?
There is also a second run of snapper into the bay which occurs around November. This run usually contains a greater amount of fish, however they are typically smaller specimens on the whole than the first run of fish into the bay. They seem to be more around the 3 kg models. At the beginning of the season, snapper tend to concentrate in selected locations for a short period of time, and then eventually start to disperse right through the bay. A consistent belief among the old timers is that snapper forage in the channels and over deeper reef bottom during the daylight hours, as there is more cover from the light of day. The snapper will come in closer as light levels fall, they will visit inshore mudflats and shallow water as little as two meters or so, in which they come in to feed upon small crabs and other crustaceans. On dusk or dawn the ideal depth is about 6 meters. However during the night time hours they will be found in striking distance, even for land based fishermen.
Throughout the initial phase of the snapper run in September through to December there is outstanding fishing to be had, as long as you pick the right day and time. Prior to the fish spawning they generally feed up big, this normally occurs right up until Christmas. After that the fish will generally shut down their feeding activity to concentrate on what they come in the bay to do, spawn. Although you might find them congregating on your sounder, they will be very hard to entice to take a bait after Christmas. You need all the tricks in the book, to be successful, however, the use of flasher rigs at this time of year comes into its own, as it has that ability to attract the fish’s attention no matter what. The old timers believe that snapper are serial spawners, meaning that they can spawn several times over quite a long period.
There are some exceptions to the rule when it comes to the spawning season. For example from Portarlington into the inner harbor of Corio Bay the snapper can be caught from September through to late March. In fact snapper are still caught during the cold winter months in Corio Bay and places such as Corio Quay have become known for their large hauls of big winter snapper. To the eastside of Port Phillip Beaumaris, Black Rock, Rickets Point and St Kilda yield amply action all year round of those fish who choose to stay in the bay, rather than taking the annual travel back out to sea. Hampton and Black Rock yield big snapper from October to January. Throughout the colder months snapper will be found closer inshore along with pinkes who remain along the outer edge of the reefs. Altona to Point Wilson which includes Point Cook and Werribee has a great reputation for snapper being caught all year round too. However the months of October through to March are best.
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