Sunny Coast Snapper Session
  |  First Published: November 2011

It was really exciting taking off on my Uncle’s good mate Alec’s comfortable 5.4m half-cabin boat at 1am.

We headed for 12 Mile Reef, off the coast off Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast, where, even as a junior angler, you can expect to catch a multitude of fish. These can be a variety of reef fish, black kingfish (cobia) and the big snapper that we were targeting. At that time of year, there were still a few big snapper hanging around the reefs.

I was using a running sinker rig with a #4 bean sinker, 30lb mono trace and a 7/0 Big Gun chemically sharpened hook on my 7’ Ugly Stik rod with a Jarvis Walker 4500, 5 ball bearing spinning reel spooled with 20lb line. This gear worked perfectly for the trip. When you’re going out on trip like this, consider tackle similar to this and you’ll be set!

The hour-long trip out to the reef was quite comfortable with the swell under a metre. We anchored up at our spot, got all our gear ready and just as I was getting my uncle’s rod out of the cabin, OUCH! Since it was dark, I didn’t realise that I was holding the rod just above the large gang hooks. One of them happened to sink deep into the palm of my hand. After working at the hook, I managed to pull it out, bandage up my hand and start fishing. It is always important to keep a safety kit on board, because if a small accident like this happens, you have all the things you need to keep on fishing.

I eventually got my line in the water and began fishing. I was using fresh squid and large pilchards for bait. My Uncle’s mate Alec got a couple of legal Moses perch into the boat as I put my first squid bait in the water. After a few solid hits and about 2 minutes I was on!

The fish put up a good fight, and soon turned out to be a 4kg snapper. I was pleased that this was my first fish of the day! We noticed on the sounder that the school of fish were swimming about 10’ above the bottom, so as we dropped our baits to the seabed, with just a few winds of the reel, the baits would be sitting in a perfect position.

It was always an instant bite as we got our baits down, but we would hook up and lose fish, hook up and lose fish. Until we found that the snapper would take a bait, swim away from the other feeding fish, and then swallow it. That was the best time to strike. We then started to get a few smaller fish until I was solidly hooked into a healthy 3kg fish, which put up a great fight.

As we were getting smaller fish in the boat, we started to see a pod of whales swimming around a few hundred metres away. Suddenly about 20m behind our boat, a huge whale surfaced. As this happened, Alec’s rod bent over in the rod holder, then disappeared into the blue! Since Alec had a 7” unweighted nuclear chicken soft plastic, sitting out of the back of the boat, the whale had come past and accidentally hooked on it. This is a very rare occurrence, which I may not see in a very long time, or maybe ever again.

After a few laughs we kept on fishing, but the fish seemed to go off the bite as the sun came up. We moved to Murphys Reef, which was a good half an hour trip. We looked at the sounder and found a good spot. We began using mullet fillets for bait, which resulted in a few bites. Then Alec hooked onto what we thought was a giant snapper, after about 5 minutes he got it up. It was a 3’ reef shark, which was released unharmed. When in a boat, sharks can be quite ‘quick and crafty’, so it is key to be careful when landing them.

The snapper began to become a little quiet, but there were still a few reef fish around as we caught a few sweetlip and nice scorpion rock cod. On the way back, it’s sometimes a good idea to put a few lures on the rods and troll. You never know if there’s a school of tuna or even big Spanish mackerel ready to attack the next lure they see.

We got back, got a few good pictures, unloaded the boat and went home. This trip was a trip that I would never forget, and when the time comes for your unforgettable fishing experience, think about all the right gear to get ready, and also the safety side of fishing. Also think about going out and chasing those iconic snapper!

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