The weather over the last month has been awesome and the true winter weather pattern finally arrived, even if it has been a little late. The light southwest winds in the morning ease by mid morning to an afternoon glass-out, is always welcome. This is why it is my favourite time of the year as I have more opportunity to get out after work.
The winter snapper run in the southern end of the bay has been very hit and miss throughout the most part of winter. So far I have found the snapper starting to become a little more consistent, with on average some better quality fish around. Recently I have found all of my fish along the drop-offs.
One thing that I have noticed though is that the fish are really picky at the moment. If you don't have everything just right, from your leader weight to the weight of your jighead and even down to the colour of your soft plastic, then you won't get the bite from the better sized fish.
Recently I have been able to see the good numbers of juvenile snapper schooled up along the reef edge on my sounder, when you can see them schooled up like that and you are struggling to get a hit then it can just be a matter of changing things up a little. You need to look at little changes that you can make. Sometimes it can come down to the size, style and colour of the soft plastic that you are throwing.
When it comes to what colour plastic I throw it really depends on two things; the overhead conditions and the water clarity. If the skies and water are clear (which in winter most of the time they are) I will always go to a plastic that is transparent, one of my go-to colours in this situation is the Z-Man opening night colour. Once I have chosen my colour I then decide on the size and style of my plastic. Very rarely around the reef edge will I use a 5” or larger plastic. I will normally always use a 3-4” size. If I am looking for a subtle presentation then I will go with a paddle-tail like the Z-Man 3” Minnowz.
If you have a hot bite then I will go with a slightly more aggressive style of plastic like a curl-tail. There are a few styles of curl-tails, whether it is a grub or a shad style, like the Z-Man Streakz Curly Tailz, it doesn't really matter as both are quite aggressive.
Jighead weight can also make a big difference. In terms of weight it really depends on the depth you are fishing and the speed at which you are drifting. In saying that, nine times out of ten I will use a 1/8oz jighead with a 3/0 size hook. This matches up with a 3-4” plastic.
The last thing that you will need to take into consideration is leader weight. This is a matter of trial and error, I will always start at 16lb fluorocarbon. My leader of choice is Sunline V-hard. It is one of the best that I have used in terms of knot strength and abrasion resistance. If when using 16lb you are still struggling to get a bite then down size from there.
This month should still see plenty of snapper getting around so you will be able to put the above information in to practise for yourself. Along with the juveniles there will also be some nice mulloway around the reef edges. I have also been getting up into the shallows chasing some bream and have had some interesting by-catch on small cranks on the high tide. There are a few options for you for the upcoming month.
An awesome bream that anyone would be happy to land. This 42cm brute was caught by Brendan Merchant on a Z-Man 4” Streakz Curly Tailz in baby bass.
This 55cm snapper was a result of taking note of the surrounding conditions and choosing appropriate tackle.
Another 53cm juvenile snapper landed on the Z-Man 3” Minnowz in opening night on a 1/8oz 3/0 TT Headlockz jighead.
This is a welcomed by-catch when up in the shallows chasing bream. A colourful spangled emperor taken on a Maria Crank 38mm MC-1, which is an awesome shallow water crank.Reads: 1856