Seeing red offshore
  |  First Published: June 2013

A cold westerly wind early, flat seas and top fishing off shore from Sydney – yes Winter can be the best time to fish the reefs wide of Botany Bay or Port Hacking.

The weather sure can turn it at this time of year, with weeks of great offshore conditions.

Snapper will start moving as the water temp falls and good numbers can be found feeding in 40m-80m across broken reef.

Snapper love structure but wide from Botany Bay we don`t have good reef systems, only broken reef, lumps and bumps. I have found over many years targeting snapper and talking with commercial fishers that the snapper never hold up over this ground but are moving all the time. That’s why we do well on reds some days and can`t find them the next.

A few months back while filming The Hook and the Cook we fished Coffs Harbour, where the reefs are snapper heaven, with good walls dropping from 30m into 50m all over the place.

South from Port Hacking, once we run past the Jibbon Bommie that’s it – sand until we reach The Humps wide from Stanwell Tops.

I keep saying I’d love to see us invest some of our licence money into building good artificial reef systems in this area. Not a steel structure like the one off The Gap that is more money than sense, a reef you can anchor on if needed. Sandstone or concrete that is dumped weekly as landfill would be spot on and contactors all over Sydney pay big money to dump it every week.

It works in South Australia so why not here? Sydney’s construction industry has more reef materials than we will ever need; we just need a barge to transport it to the fishing grounds. Sorry for dreaming!


Snapper love a good berley trail and in 30m-50m over broken reef, if the current is nice and light, start cubing with pilchards while fishing on the anchor. Then fish with light running sinkers and allow your bait to drift along with the berley.

Baitrunner reels are by far the outfits of choice for this style of fishing because you can feed out line down the trail and then just crank the reel to set the hook. Once the snapper start to feed, you will be hooked on this method of catching reds.

In 40m-80m depths I find the old two-hook paternoster rig is my favourite. Check out The Hook and the Cook YouTube channel on how to tie this rig.

I often drop the anchor once the fish are located. Tough bait like striped tuna, salted slimy mackerel, mullet, salted salmon strips and most fresh fish baits will work. Squid is also a must.

So get out there this Winter and you just might find you will be blessed with great conditions. Cold starts and hot fishing, if it all comes together.






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