Sweet Snapper Sailing
  |  First Published: August 2011

August is snapper time! So dust off the reef pick, float and ring to make light work out of anchoring at dusk on your favourite lump of reef. And with the addition of berley, coffee thermos or warm soup and some spin gear to float line for knobbies, this is fishing at its best – big fish in shallow water, screaming runs and fantastic photo opportunities.

Most anglers who know what they are doing get in and have the berley trail going well before dusk. On the good nights you will have snapper feeding almost up to your transom.

If you are late arriving or pull the pick and have to reset the anchor, do the gentlemanly thing and avoid powering past the stern of anchored vessels. Pass by the bow or, better still, give your fellow fishos a wide berth. Nothing raises the blood pressure more than having fish feeding up your berley trail only to have the snapper put off and shut down by careless boats in your vicinity.

There are a number of other species that will head up your berley trail as well. No matter how cold it gets, there is always a big spangled emperor that will want to brick you into the bottom when you are float lining. We have also caught plenty of mulloway this year, the best day seeing six jew between 6kg and 14kg hit the deck in the middle of the day – I’m expecting a cracker night jew season on the shallow Cape Moreton reefs this year.

Yellowtail kingfish can be thick in August as well. YTK will take every bait meant for snapper and tear your arms off. Time to move when that happens!

Floatlining at Wide Caloundra during the day will produce a steady flow of snapper. The 100m line in particular fishes very well at this time of year.

Some have been bemoaning the new restrictive snapper bag of four fish with only one snapper over 70cm, however, I am very happy with the business certainty provided by the new snapper plan. Nevertheless, I would suggest rec fishers contact Sunfish to ask Barry Pollock how he and Fisheries Minister Wallace between them arrived at this election year band aid and how long it will last in salt water after the upcoming State election.

The four bag limit with one snapper over 70cm was not flagged in the RIS documents. Nor, according to Fisheries scientists, was it supposedly a feasible option available to the Snapper Network Working Group to ensure the rebuilding of snapper stocks over ten years. When Minister Wally shut down all further consultation for stakeholders, except Sunfish in farcical circumstances, and also closed his door to Fisheries advisers, we all feared the worst.

However, this new Snapper Management Plan is a very good result for commercial fishers who will have no restrictions on their catch of snapper if they hold an L1, L2 or L3 symbol, a great result for charter operators who have the business certainty of all year access to the Rocky Reef fishery as well as ensuring that all rec anglers can still catch a few throughout the year.

But if the solution was that simple, why did it take three years of consultation with the SNWG, scientists and Fisheries managers to get to it? I believe there should be a searching review of the Fisheries Snapper process from start to finish to ensure that this huge waste of money, time and resources from Fisheries and stakeholders alike is not repeated in any future fisheries consultation processes.

The concern for all snapper anglers is that the sustainability of snapper stocks will be to the forefront very soon again. This accord ignores the critical areas of resource sharing, accurately measuring recreational snapper take with regard to setting a realistic TAC for snapper, limiting the potential for increased participation and snapper catch by the charter sector, value adding to the commercial sectors through an ITQ, further study of the biology of snapper especially in regard to fecundity of more mature fish and the effects of barotrauma on released line caught snapper. Watch this space...

Whether to go – the human considerations

When I was a young bare chested boofhead I had all sorts of adventures in boats; and I wouldn’t deny the next generation the chance to also make stupid mistakes. However, when you have your girlfriend, partner or children on board then go back to the safety adage: “When in doubt, pull out!”

Rather than stay home, I plan my trips in stages: Head to Combie, have a look, either keep going to Smiths or turn right to fish the Bulwer Ledge or Tangalooma. When I reach Smiths (or Hutchies, etc) I will fish for awhile. If conditions are pretty good, then fly up to Wide Caloundra, east to the 100m line or south towards Tempest. Or turn around, if conditions are not good. This way I am always in my comfort zone. There will be enough times when the weather turns sour for you to extend your rough water knowledge without looking for trouble.

Taking Chances

Here is a simple checklist. If all your responses are on the left side of the column, use commonsense and go for it, if you are on the right of the column, take small steps and enjoy each one. Your time will come when you know you are ready for more adventure:

Vastly experienced seamanJust bought your first boat
Mentor on boardFirst time by yourself
Regular toughened crewFamily and passengers
In your local areaOn holiday somewhere new
Big boat18’ or less
Travelling with other boatsAlone
Fishing comp with radio schedulesMidweek
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