Snapper, snapper, snapper everywhere
  |  First Published: August 2015

July, August and up-and-coming September are 3 great months in Sydney to get amongst the snapper offshore, in Botany Bay, and towards the entrance to Port Hacking.

The cooler currents will not only bring with it cuttlefish, but also schools of snapper. I have been travelling offshore and spotted floating chewed-up dead cuttlefish. I’ve stopped and cast either a strip of squid, whole pilchards or soft plastics at them and within a few seconds been hooked up to a nice snapper. It doesn’t always happen, but if you see a floating cuttlefish you should flick out a bait or soft plastic.

There are a number of ways that you can target snapper offshore. You can drift while bouncing paternoster rigs along the bottom, drift while feeding out lightly weighted baits or plastics, anchor up and fish lighted weighted baits or soft plastics in a berley trail, cast baits or soft plastics into washes from the boat, and you can slowly troll for them with downriggers.

Technique 1: drift WITH paternoster rigs

Once you have found your favourite patch of reef or gravel bed, you will need to position your boat so that you slowly drift over these areas. Drop your paternoster rig baited with either squid, cuttlefish, pilchards, tuna or bonito to the bottom. Once it is down, you will need to keep in contact with the line to feel for a bite. If you feel that the rig has come off the bottom too far, just release more line out to get it back down. I wouldn’t have the line out any more than 30 degrees from the boat though.

Technique 2: Drift WITH lightly weighted baits or plastics

This type of technique will take a bit of patience on your part, as you will need to remain in contact with the line at all times as you are letting it out. You can use either a baitrunner reel or just have the bail arm open when letting out the line. If you find that you are drifting too fast due to current or wind, I would suggest putting out a sea anchor to slow you down.

You will know when the snapper has taken the bait, as the line will start to take off fairly quickly. Once this happens, you will need to allow a few seconds and then either engage the baitrunner or close the bail arm and strike.

Technique 3: Anchor and fish baits or plastics in A berley trail

Use the sounder to pick up a school of snapper and then position the boat up-current of the mark. Once the boat has stopped moving, you will now need to start a berley trail of chopped up pilchards. Once you have a small, but steady stream of pilchard pieces flowing out in the current, drop a lightly weighted bait or soft plastic down through the berley trail.

Some of the takes I have had using this technique have been explosive, so keep your wits about you.

Technique 4: Cast baits or plastics into washes

This is not a type of technique I would suggest for beginners. You will definitely need to have your eye on the waves and where you are positioned, as you may end up crashing into the rocks otherwise. I have found that when westerly winds are blowing it is fairly calm close to shore.

Once you have selected the wash you are going to fish, you will need to position your boat so that you can cast either a lightly weighted bait or plastic into the wash. Once it has landed you will need to try and keep them away from the reef. This technique is not a 1-person technique. You will need to have someone casting while the other controls the boat. Scotty Lyons from Southern Sydney Fishing Tours is a master at this type of technique.

Technique 5: troll with A downrigger

Not that long ago I bought a downrigger and attached it to the back of my boat. I wanted it for slow trolling for kingfish, but now I use it during the winter months to troll for snapper. Try trolling unweighted baits, soft plastics or a hardbody lure just off the bottom. The slower the better.

The gear I use

For techniques 1, 2, 3 and 5 I use 3 different outfits. They are a Pflueger Medalist 6-10kg rod mounted with a Penn 65 Spinfisher threadline spooled with 10kg Fireline braid, a 6-10kg Ugly Stik rod mounted with a Penn 65 Spinfisher threadline spooled with 10kg Fireline, and a 10-15kg Ugly Stik overhead rod mounted with a 40LD Penn Squall spooled with 15kg Fireline.

As for technique 4, the rod is a 3.6m Ugly Stick 10kg rod mounted with a Penn 65 Spinfisher threadline spooled with 10kg Fireline.

Now if you don’t have a boat that is suitable to go offshore, you can try any of the above techniques that I have described over your favourite snapper possie inshore. Or if you would like to learn more about how to do it while catching a few snapper, you could always give Scotty Lyons a call on (0418) 169 439 or go to his website at www.fishingsydney.com.au

Maybe you would like to see the proof in the pudding as they say. If so, go to You Tube and type in Fishing with Scotty Lyons and look for the following: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=26ebZ-olsqI

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