The snapper are on!
  |  First Published: May 2015

Yep, there are a few nice snapper hanging about most of the deeper reefs off the Illawarra coast at the moment, and they should linger for a few weeks before working their way into shallow water looking for early cuttlefish.

The current has backed right off now, so you can get those plastics down deep in 80m plus on the right day and drift around waiting for that first punishing run. Or you could hunt around with the sounder and look for bait schools and fish around these.

You should see the larger snapper around the edges or in the vicinity when you zoom in to the right depth. It can get frustrating when they don't want to play, but with a bit of persistence a big fish or 2 will come your way.

Braid lets you get down deep and stay in touch with your bait, even if there is a bit of current, and as for choice of bait and colour, well white is as good as any. Why a snapper would eat things that are all the colours of the rainbow is beyond me, but they do, so anything is worth a go.

I like the Gulp range, but there are plenty of others out there that work outstandingly well on their day.

There are all sorts of other species that love plastics, in particular the leatherjacket tribe that can destroy them in seconds, so bring plenty or it could be a short trip. When you find jackets, move!

There can be a bit of bycatch too, with a few samsonfish and even the odd decent flathead if you fish along the edges of the rock and sand that snapper love so much.

If you want to use bait, then pick your reef and berley away and use as light a lead as possible to get best results. Alternatively, feed the bait out about the distance that the water is deep, then use a sinker with a snap on it with a very short length of line. Put the rod in the holder, clip the sinker on the line and drop it over the side.

The sinker will slide down the line, taking the bait with it slowly down through all the water depths until it hits the bottom. You’re covering all the water, from top to bottom, to tempt any fish in between.

There is also the shallow water option. With a full moon early in the month as it was in April, we may get 2 bites of the cherry this year. The shallow reefs and bommies with a bit of berley in the evenings might well be worth a look as well.

If the snapper don't want to play, then there are other options, with a few decent kings getting about over the reefs as well. Some will grab a plastic, but the big fellas love live baits, so a slimy fished deep with the snapper baits could get the job done.

Alternately, you could work your live baits around the dropoffs of the islands and Bass Point. Be wary though, as the seals are gathering in numbers, taking not only baits, but any kings you might hook. They are more prevalent around the islands, but are liable to pop up anywhere of late.

Looking wider, the shelf should see a few yellowfin start to make a show over the coming weeks. There could be a few patches here and there along the coast, or they could blow up all over, it varies with the seasons, but so far it has been a bit on the quiet side. That can change in the matter of days though.

If you are looking for yellowfin out around the Kiama Canyons, it is worth dropping down deep with baits when the going is slow for any early gemfish or a trevalla, as the current can be very slow and accommodating this month. With often calm seas and slow drifts, you can stay over the better spots for longer.

Back in closer to shore, there will be a few trevally starting to show as the water cools a little. The washes and shallow reefs around the islands are a good spot to start, but most of the shallow reefs will have a few trevally gathering over them. If you get desperate, there is still the ever-reliable salmon.

You could do worse than work the washes with pilchards on ganged hooks to pick up a few salmon, with a bycatch of tailor, trevally, bream and even the odd nice snapper. Take a few royal red prawns and fish with a very light sinker or just a split shot or 2 and work the same washes for more bream and trevally, with a few big drummer and blackfish thrown in.

Schools of salmon mixed with bonito are still popping up along the beaches and headlands, with some big bonnies left over from last month grabbing livies meant for kings.

For the drifters, the flathead have backed off a little, but there are still more than enough over the sand patches to keep you busy, with a few gurnard and flounder thrown in off Port Beach and up north past Stanwell Park.

Morwong are about over the gravel, with plenty of nice little pan-sized snapper over the reefs and the gravel patches. A few leatherjackets have been about, so if you like a feed of jackets, get out there and rid the place of the piranha of the Pacific.

On the rocks, it is a bit of everything for everyone, with good numbers of blackfish moving along the coast in the washes on the headlands and in the quiet bays and harbours early in the morning. If we get a bit of a blow and the sea comes up, they will pack the harbours for a bit of fun when all else is shut down.

Drummer are starting to get active and there are plenty of bream and a few trevally in the washes, with the chance of a nice snapper off the deeper ledges.

For the land based game guys, this is your best month to score a longtail off the stones in the local area. All the headlands around Kiama are worth soaking a live yellowtail or slimy mackerel from, and you will need to take a few with you as there are plenty of salmon, bonito and rat kings about to knock them off.

Some bigger kings are about early, but the longtails can show up any time of the day, with late afternoon a great time.

As for the beaches, I like this time of year, with its fewer but bigger whiting and plenty of bream. Beachworms are still the bait, but it can be a bit cool catching them now, as the westerlies put a bit of a chill into wet legs.

Salmon are all along the coast and they are still finding a few schools of bait to chase into the shallows and go mad over, turning the shore break into an even bigger washing machine.

Some nice school mulloway have been about on the northern beaches for the keen guys who stay up late and fish the top of the bigger tides. I haven't heard of any thumpers, but they have been common enough to warrant a look.

In the estuaries, it is starting to slow down and it isn't all about flatties any more. You will have to be a bit versatile and chase the bream and blackfish along the edges of the ribbon weed beds. There are some flatties about, but they will taper off quickly towards the end of the month.

A few nice whiting will remain down around the entrance to the lake, and there is even the chance of a mulloway under the bridge if you are lucky.

Minnamurra has gone a bit quiet, with mainly bream around the bridges, the odd trevally and small salmon down at the entrance, and a couple of whiting in the main channel.

Reads: 1885

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