Reds can be tough
  |  First Published: December 2010

A lot of anglers I speak to want to catch that big red – snapper are high on the list of all anglers who fish in southern waters.

But snapper off Sydney are tough at times.

Snapper love structure and here is our problem off southern Sydney. We have The Peak and rather good ground wide from Coogee and few small reefs found in the Bate Bay area off Cronulla.

The rest is sand, and miles of it. The rock shelf out from Botany Bay is so flat that it’s tough to pick on the sonar where the sand starts and the rock ends.

Anglers who fish the north and south coasts of NSW catch good reds around large reef systems with drop-offs, good pinnacles and extensive gravel beds.

A few years ago I fished the Bay of Islands in New Zealand, where the bottom was insane. After seeing this I fully understand why our snapper fishing off Sydney is tough at times.

Snapper do travel in large school and some days are gold and you do well. A good mate is a commercial fisher who catches snapper all Winter but he also finds the fishing tough at times and these guys know how to catch reds.

So don’t worry if you can’t catch snapper some days, it’s just the way it is around here.

Lately I have headed off Port Hacking for most snapper trips. The Hump, off Stanwell Tops, is a great starting point.

It’s around a 40-minute run from Port Hacking and there’s not much in between. This reef comes up to 30m out of 50m, providing good ground for reds.

Two methods work well here.

One way is to fish floaters in a berley trail of small pilchard cubes, but this will work only as long as the current is very light.

Otherwise you need to fish the bottom with a paternoster rig nine times out of 10 this is the method you will use due to the current.

Braided line is a must and will give you the edge you need. Lately I have used the new 10kg Schneider Braid, which covers the job, well.

Pilchard is a top bait for snapper but it’s tricky to fish on the bottom rig. I have found it too soft at times if smaller fish are about.

Tough baits like bonito or striped tuna are the way to go and squid is worth a try.

I love to anchor when fishing for snapper. The trick is to find the edge of the hard reef and fish where it meets the gravel; snapper feed over these areas.

Drifting is also good, allowing you to cover loads of ground. A drift over hard reef, sand and gravel may produce better results but each day is a little different so get out there and have a shot. Time on the water will better your chances of catching that big red.

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