My Top 10 Snapper Fishing Tips for Melbourne

Spring in Melbourne equates to 3 things. The AFL finals, the Spring Racing Carnival and most importantly the annual migration of Snapper.

The undercurrent of excitement caused by the arrival of Big Red far out weighs the prior mentioned events, yet there is no advertising campaign, no news coverage, or no international stars flown in. Here for the dedicated and the novice angler is the chance to boat a fish that is the icon of Victorian Sport fishing. The Snapper is an idol, it’s not just a fish, and it’s a representation of the changing of seasons, the beginning for long sunny days, summer BBQs and time spent with family and friends. Snapper are a social fishing target, anglers board charter and hire boats and private boats exchange tales and experiences with like minded enthusiasts, boat owners venture out to renew friendships and create new ones, while land based anglers talk tactics to the rising and setting of the sun, all in the excuse of Snapper fishing. Snapper may not be the hardest fishing fish, the tastiest on the plate or the hardest to catch, but they are the classical image of a fish, there big, good eating and most importantly they are very accessible.

Snapper caught from fishing from a polycraft hire boat at Schnapper Point Boat hire mornington

So how do you go about landing a Snapper?
There are many things that you can do to increase your chances. 

The Number one tip I received from my father many years ago is that you have to fish where the fish are. This in its most basic of terms equates to fishing shallow waters (6-15 meters) at night and deeper waters during the day (18-22 meters). Popular Snapper fishing destinations include Mornington, Carrum and St Kilda in Port Phillip Bay and Hastings, Warneet, and Rhyll in Western Port Bay.

Timing is everything yet nothing at the same time. The peak times to land a snapper are dawn, dusk and the change of tide. My number one saying is that you will not catch a snapper in your office, Mother Nature in all her splendour has made fish both totally predictable and completely unpredictable. Each year I see hundreds of snapper caught with none of the key times in play, you just have to be in it to win it!

Snapper fishing can be a waiting game, if you’re approaching a peak fishing time stay put, be patient, and keep those lines in the water. I like to give a snapper spot at least two hours (preferably 1 hour either side of the prime time), then by all means move about or sound around for another spot. For those that are hard core snapper fisho’s, keep a dairy detailing date, time, tide, moon phase, location, weather conditions, bait and results. This will enable you to predict fish movements and help you plan your next snapper sortie.

Gearing up: Snapper fishing can be as complex or as simple as you like. From handlines to graphite rods, soft plastics and braided lines, there is a niche for every angler and their style. Personally I opt for a 4-7kg spinning outfit in Port Phillip Bay and a 10kg overhead set-up in Western Port Bay. My rig is always a running sinker rig with the sinker weight dictated by the conditions. I never use a wire trace when snapper fishing, 40-60lb monofilament is ample. Snapper Snatchers/Flasher Rigs, Soft Plastics, Jigs and even Flies all account for there share of snapper, but it’s bait fishing that is the most popular entry level technique. Squid, pilchards, silver whiting, red rockets, garfish and saurie are the most popular baits for snapper. Use only the freshest baits available, when the snapper are on the bite it won't matter what you offer. The trick is to entice them when they are not. Anglers should match their hook size to their bait size, for small baits a size 2/0 hook could be ample but for larger baits a pair of 6/0 hooks may fit the bill. 


Preparation is key. Any fishing adventure should be planned. Check the weather, there is no point planning to go fishing if the wind is going to blow 30 knots. Make sure you have all that you need, don’t look like a goose and run out of bait, hooks or sinkers. Be sure to have change for your launching fee. Know where your landing net is and most importantly if your boat fishing make sure that you have the correct safety equipment, enough fuel and a charged battery.

My top 10 snapper fishing tips:
1)      You have to fish where the fish are,
2)      Be prepared,
3)      Patience,
4)      Never use a wire trace,
5)      Match your hook size to your bait size,
6)      Don’t move during peak times,
7)      The fresher the bait the better,
8)      Fish as many lines as possible (limit 4 per person),
9)      Keep a fishing diary,
10)   Relax and enjoy.

My top 5 GPS marks:

C Buoy Mornington

GPS:  38.11.177s 145.00.216E


Ansetts B Mornington Mt Eliza

GPS: 38 10 220s 145 01 590e


Mornington Wide 

GPS: 38 06 202s 144 55 802e


Aircraft   Carrum 

GPS: 38.05.980s 145.00.692e


West Entrance  Buoy No 6  

GPS: 38.28.200s 145.08.000e


The most important thing of all is to enjoy. Relax, share the experience with others, this is a recreation, a passion and for many a way of life. We are blessed to have such a fantastically diverse recreational playground on our doorstep. Look after it, limit your catch, you don’t have to catch your limit, don’t litter and return all undersize and unwanted fish unharmed. Be helpful and courteous, help fellow anglers at the boat ramp, don’t block the boat ramp, take a mate fishing and remember get on the water and get on the fish!