Snare a snapper
  |  First Published: December 2013

All the summer species are on the chew now, and there’s no reason to stay home!

I often have clients mention to me, “Are the conditions flat enough for the outing?” or “The prediction for Saturday is moderate seas”.

Don’t worry! All respectable guides have safety in mind when it comes to putting their clients onto fish. We constantly monitor the seas and swell size. If you want to improve your ability as an angler, catch that fish of a lifetime, and learn about fishing safety, go out with a respectable guide. It’s an investment!


Rob Marich, one of my regulars, always looks forward to the summer run of bream off the rocks. They are one of the key species to improving your ability as an angler. They are timid, require searching skills (e.g. which structure to fish at certain stages of the tide), they help you understand the undulated ocean bottom that is critical to successful rock bream fishing, and much more.

Rob recently caught a nice bag of bream to 800g from Long Reef. One of the bags was from the south face and on the very next trip from the north face. Be prepared to search for fish in this area. You’ll get 1 here, none there, a few at another spot… there are literally dozens of spots that can be fished for bream at Long Reef.

The same applies to a lesser extent at south Curl Curl, from the ocean pool to freshwater corner. Try bream fishing along this length of rocks for good bags of fish to roughly the same size. Expect the odd tarwhine as well.

Further North, fish Barrenjoey Headland and Newport Headland.

The ultimate bream bait in my opinion is a pink nipper, and coming in at a close second is a Hawkesbury prawn. Half pilchards will generally get you a swag of fish as well.


Snapper catches are good this month, with reports of fish to 2.2kg. Chris Nessi caught a nice fish of about 1.5kg, with a couple of reddies to 37cm.

The salmon seem to be hanging around later than usual, with a showing of bonito to 2kg on live baits meant for a king or on metals like 45-65g Spanyid Snipers.

Although the snapper fishing is not as good as the South Coast or near Mid-North Coast, Sydney anglers still manage to get good bags of snapper. Distance casting at Bangalay Head near St Michaels Cave has been producing a couple of fish an outing to 1kg. A cast of at least 75m is required, and you’ll need to take quite a few spare rigs because of the snaggy terrain at most distance casting snapper spots. North Curl and Dee Why can be worse notoriously snaggy. A 90-100m cast is required there.

Put a salted stripy, slimy mackerel or squid head on a 3/0 hook with sinker weights from 3oz to 6oz, depending on the conditions, to ensure you hold bottom. The preferred distance casting rods are 4-5m suitable for 8-12kg line. When it comes to wash outfits, a 3.2-3.8m length suited for 6-8kg line is the most you need.

Wash fishing (fishing the white sudsy waters with deep water in front) is often good for a snapper. Light sinkers. 6-8kg line and a nice snapper equates to great fun in this line class. A berley trail of pilchard cubes or a mixture of pilly and bread deployed consistently, not intermittently, is the way to a few snapper.

The odd bonito and salmon have been showing up in bags as well.

Kings are definitely there for the consistent rock fisher! Spinning Eastern Sea gar, live bait and poppering are all producing good fish.

North Whale has its good days. A client recently caught 3 fish from 68-77cm on an independent trip. They were spun up on garfish.

Other locations producing are Dobroyd in North Harbour, Bluefish, South Curl Curl and North Whale, although this could change as the month progresses. River2Sea 43g Dumbbell Pop 200s are accounting for some fish, as well as live bait.


Off the beaches the whiting are on, with the oft-neglected Whale Beach producing some big whiting to 39cm. The odd big bream to nearly 1kg are a bycatch, and there are salmon and tailor to be caught in the evenings.

David Masters had a great session catching his first 3 beachworms and 8 whiting to 40cm. That was his first beach session ever! Another angler fishing Bilgola Beach caught a 7kg jewfish on fresh squid caught in Pittwater.

Other good whiting options are North Narrabeen, Collaroy when the kelp is not there, and that also applies with Dee Why. When the seas are up from the South, give Dee Why Corner a go. It can be a very reliable whiting spot.

The salmon and chopper tailor are on from Curl Curl and Manly beach. Manly is a good producer at night for a tailor. These beaches are also producing good catches of whiting. Narrabeen, Curl Curl and Manly. They’re also serving up sand and dusky flathead to 58cm.

Ganged pillies, whitebait and plastics are all producing. I recommend you bring a carry bag and a spin outfit with quality 2-4kg braid (I use TD Sensor), and a good prawn imitation like the Zerek Live Cherabin. Take some metals from 25-65g (I use Spanyid Snipers) and you have it covered for a fun-filled outing for flathead and salmon/tailor.

There’s a new bag limit of two jewfish and minimum of 70cm, so take the measuring stick and perhaps start upping your hook size to reduce throat and gut hook-up, otherwise a released jewfish may not survive, which would be a shame. Use a wet cloth when handling a fish that you want to release, as it minimises slime loss. You will have to be prepared to get wet also, because releasing a fish into the sand-churned shore break doesn’t do it much good. I use a 20L bucket of seawater with an aerator to let the fish revive, and then walk out as far as safely possible before releasing the fish. It gives it a much better chance of surviving to fight another day.

Finally, during the holiday period we all need to be aware of the people around us. Anglers can be ignorant of hidden dangers, like looking behind you when casting so you don’t get a hook up from a reveller. Swimmers, surfers and kids can be ignorant of anglers, so be courteous and move or cast very accurately to avoid a bad situation.

Happy New Year to all.

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