Finding new snapper spots
  |  First Published: February 2016

February is a peak month for a range of species. You can get snapper in the washes and by distance casting, kings off the ocean rocks and in our fantastic estuaries, and a mixed bag off our beaches with the usual suspects like whiting, tailor, sharks and mulloway. Just some of the exciting things happening off the shore around Sydney! The snapper in particular are in good numbers, with good reddies in the washes and distance casting to the gravel/sand patches on a lot of our headlands.

Fairly recently I had some time off from chartering. You may wonder why a full-time guide would want to go out for a fish. The answer is simple: to experiment, explore and advance. Besides, I love fishing so I try and do it as often as possible! I love the anticipation of catching my favourite species, being challenged during complex situations and the adventure of finding new spots at my local.

Yes, you heard right: new spots for specific species after 37 years of fishing Sydney rock and beach fishing. I was at Barrenjoey Head and was trying to fish a snapper spot but found it to be just slightly too rough. I had a look from a high vantage point from spot to spot and looked very closely at the wash structure and decided to fish some smaller washes at the correct compass bearing direction to the location I was fishing. After some trial and error I fished three new washes for this species. On the third one, while fishing with variable ball sinker sizes, I felt that distinct snapper ‘whack, whack.’ The rod tip loaded up but damn – missed the first bite! My heart was racing, and I continued the berley in very consistent, small amounts.

About 20 minutes later the rod tip loaded up and the 5.5kg line was running from my spool at a fairly fast pace with the fish making a 15-20m run. I had that distinct bounce of a good snapper. Woohoo, a good red! I continued to play it out and got that distinct line dart when it was only a few metres out, going from left to right with the head shakes. Then the snapper surfaced in close, and I got the cloth quickly around the fish and put it into my carry bag. It was a good fish, well over the 50cm mark. What a way to start off at my new found wash!

Several casts later I got another in the mid 40s and a few salmon as well. It just goes to show there is still adventure on our great ocean rocks around Sydney!

Some suggested spots around the northern suburbs ocean rocks are Barrenjoey’s south face near the point, North Whale Point, Bangalley near St Michaels Cave, Turrametta Head near the old pipe and North Curl Curl. These are the more recent spots for a snapper. There is a combination of distance and wash fishing options at these locations. Use pillies, squid strips, bottle squid when you can get them, or salted stripy or slimy mackerel.


The kings are finally on. There were stacks of undersized fish around in December and January with only a handful of legal, medium-to-large fish around. It seems that the harbour has had a good run lately. Chowder Head and Georges Head have produced a few kings in that 65-75cm size, with some larger ones lost. I recommend a 15kg outfit as a minimum. Sea gars on gangs or a two hook snelled rig are good options. When it comes to plastics, I’ve had good results on 9” Slapstix in red/white and white.

Off the ocean rocks try Bluefish Point and the Hat at the Quarantine wall. South Curl Curl has also produced some fish.


The beaches have a good population of whaler sharks in that 0.8-1.3m size range. Generally it’s mulloway anglers who encounter them. A few good mulloway to 11kg have been caught off the beaches. Typically you’ll catch a lot of sharks before you get a mulloway bite.

Use live baits like sand mullet caught in Narrabeen or Queenscliff lagoon. You can catch sand mullet on white bread and a no 10 to 12 hook with a berley trail. Ducks can be a problem scoffing into the berley. It seems that the mullet are well aware of them, and you can have ducks in the berley trail and mullet feeding in among them. To catch some mullet, fish either un-weighted or with a small pencil type float with a tiny split shot – just enough to make the float stand up and be weighted enough so it’s not too buoyant. An aerator with a 15-20L bucket with a clip-on lid and a little hole just large enough to push the aerator hose through with an aerator stone will suffice. A rod suitable for 2-3kg line with a whippy tip and an Alvey or spinning reel suitable for 2-3kg line is all you need. Ideally you’ll get the opportunity to catch them before you go fishing in the evening.

The whiting have tapered off a little but they are still consistently caught on virtually every beach. Manly, Dee Why, Collaroy, Narrabeen and Warriewood have been good lately. In recent weeks conditions have been favourable, with minimal kelp and some good gutter formations. All that can change though. Blood worms are best, but beach worms and pink nippers also catch their share.

Plenty of tailor have been caught on ganged pillies at these beaches. Most are in the chopper size but they’re great for live bait, slab bait or on the pan or smoker. Sensational tucker!

It pays to have a readymade pack of whatever you want to fish for in your car or just sitting at home. As soon as you get home from work you can pick up the pack with your lures, bait and whatever else you need and go for a quick, cheeky fish. Even better if you have the gear in the car! You’ll want an esky with some cold packs and frozen bait, or fresh bait wrapped in newspaper, plus your pre-packed tackle and a change of clothes. Then you can drive straight to your favourite spot. It’s that easy!

• For rock and beach guided fishing or tuition in the northern Sydney region, visit www.bellissimocharters.com, email --e-mail address hidden-- or call Alex Bellissimo on 0408 283 616.

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