Snapper, snapper and a few more snapper is what it’s all about at the moment. In fact we’ve seen so many snapper that on social and business trips we’ve often had to find other species to target because we’ve already reached our limit!
Most of the fish we have been chasing have been out wide of the South Passage Bar. Fishing in 70-90m of water the snapper have been thick. Like most hot bites, the better fish have been coming on float lined pilchards and strips of fish flesh. This is the gun method and on just about every drift we have had buckled rods and happy anglers.
Overall the quality of the snapper is improving. The average fish are squire in the 1.5-4kg range, but lately the smaller models are giving way to some really solid and sizeable snapper over 4kg. The sad part though is that sharks are still dominating the bigger fish. Just about every big hit ends up with a lost rig or the landing of a head. The theory is that the sharks are hanging around the spawning aggregations just waiting for a struggling fish to pounce on. It’s sad to see quality fish nailed so willingly, but that’s offshore fishing at the moment.
One trip recently saw us drift over various pinnacles in a 3km drift. As we approached the pinnacles marked on the plotter, fish would show up on the sounder and rods would buckle. It was at this point that the sharks would move in and sort out the larger fish from the smaller squire. Still, even with these losses we have been hitting the bag limit very early in the day.
This early limiting on snapper has allowed us to change tactics and go jigging for kingies and amberjack. I don’t spend time chasing livies at this time of year because I want to catch the snapper bite, but for those just interested in fishing livies down deep, there is still plenty of bait available on the bait grounds.
The kingies have been excellent on the jigs with fish averaging 7kg and the bigger fish getting up over 10kg. Add into the mix amberjack that are averaging 4-6kg and after the snapper fun, anglers are getting a very good arm stretching. These fish have been found wider than the snapper on the deep wrecks and pinnacles in 42 fathoms. The fish are not concentrated on one or two pinnacles or wrecks, but have been widespread and very willing to nail a jig.
Sadly the sharks have been an issue out wide too, but with some luck and a good deal of effort, quality kingies and amberjack have been landed.
In some big winter news a few clued up offshore anglers have been getting stuck into some very large winter mackerel. Often called slime covered mackerel, these big fish have been nailing live baits and trolled baits and they are impressive fish. Averaging 15kg, the biggest models have stretched the scales out to 20kg-plus and these are great fish anywhere along our coast. So if a bit of trolling for a late season, or early season mackerel is your thing, you just never know what will happen.
Lastly, for those who cross the South Passage Bar a word of caution. The northern gutter which is heavily used for ocean access is changing almost daily. If you have not seen the bar crossing for a week, take all the right precautions. Sit back, assess the waves and water movement and when the opening presents itself use it. This is no place at the minute for you to believe the bar crossing is the same as it used to be.
• Enjoy your fishing, take care on the coastal bars and if you would like to join me on charter (max 8 persons), give me a call at Outlaw Charters on (07) 3822 9527 or 0418 738 750.Reads: 1317