Snapper on the rise!
  |  First Published: June 2014

If you’ve complained about the mackerel season we’ve just experienced, you’re certainly hard to please as there were plenty caught right along the coast. As I mentioned in an earlier report, there were lots of smaller fish caught and that’s probably the result of a couple of good spawning seasons. The end result will be continuing good stock numbers and some solid models coming past our part of the coast during the next couple of years.

During early May we were still picking up a few Spanish, both on the troll and spinning around the bait schools. However, by early June, like most offshore anglers, we changed our focus to bottom fish, mainly snapper. The past couple of seasons have been very good ones for snapper, especially on the wider reefs, and at the end of last season we still were catching our bag limit on the wider grounds right up to Christmas.

Although we had a recent cold snap, the water temperature has still not dropped that much and along with the amount of bait, this relative warmth has been the reason the mackerel hung in so long. However, once that water temp starts to fall we will see snapper schools starting to invade all their usual haunts.

As I’ve stated many times before, flat lining is the only way to consistently pull quality and numbers of snapper, especially during the day, but not trying to knock them out using a no. 8 or 10 ball. Try a no. 5 or 6 ball or if you’re fishing in shallow, and try a 2, 3 or 4 ball depending on conditions but fish as light as possible and don’t be afraid of having an angle on the line away from the boat. Your line doesn’t have to go straight down beside the boat. The use of a sea anchor will definitely help and get you drifting more with the current than the wind.

East of the South Passage Bar we have a lot of reefs in close proximity to each other, starting with the 295, 335, 355 and 42 fathom line, the north-east deep Tempest and the 90m line just to the south. You don’t have to travel too far to another reef if where you are isn’t firing. Most of our reef structures run north-south, so if you can get a drift along the reef or its edges you will definitely pull more fish. Although you can catch fish when there’s not a lot of run in the water, snapper definitely feed better with a flow in the water.

Down south of Point Lookout, The Cathedrals can fish very well for snapper but again, it fishes best with a nice current taking you south along the reef. Most of the snapper we catch are taken on pillies and the fact that they self-berley can help keep the school feeding.

The next few months will see snapper numbers increasing to their peak in around August/September, and we’re all hoping this season will be like the last couple. With a bag limit of four snapper including one over 70cm, it pays to have a plan B and C because you can sometimes bag out quickly. On charter, if we’ve had a good session and bagged quickly, we go and have a jig out around the 42s or on some of the deeper wrecks. Amberjack and yellowtail kingfish numbers have been reasonable through the last couple of winters, but let’s hope the sharks aren’t as thick as they have been.

Until next month, enjoy your fishing, take care on the coastal bars and if you’d like to join me on charters (maximum 8 persons), give me a call at Outlaw Charters on 07 3822 9527 or 0418 738 750 or visit my new website www.outlawcharters.com.au.

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