I’ve penned countless articles about snapper; snapper fishing techniques, snapper fishing spots, snapper fishing soft plastics, snapper fishing terminal tackle and even species that can come as by-catch from snapper fishing. What I haven’t covered for snapper anglers are those must-have accessories that the experienced crews gather along the way.
A bystander at the boat ramp or marina can tell a lot from a quick look over at your equipment. Having the latest and greatest graphite spin rods loaded with braid, three or four brands of large soft plastics rigged on running sinker weedless rigs, and a large tackle bag bursting at the seams with must-have lures and in the car is an ice-box ready for the drive home – that’s confidence – that’s preparation; the bystander gets the vibe that this crew are specimen hunters of big reds.
So what else is in the typical big fish hunter’s kit? What are those little extras that the angler may take along?
A simon-pure snapper sized landing net is surely mandatory. Gaffs spoil flesh and whereas nets afford release if you choose and are the most common choice for anglers. We tend to keep a fish or two so the standard mesh style snapper net suits us perfectly.
A brag mat, where you can lay the fish you have caught to take a proof of catch photo is almost essential these days, thanks to the digital camera and email age. Alternatively a measuring tape to show off just how big your catch is can be used. A dressmakers measuring tape does the job nicely.
Despite the publicity it gets; fishing soft plastics for snapper at night still has a mystic quality about it. Slowly night luring is becoming accepted and accordingly headlamps have become an integral accessory in the snapper angler’s kit. There are also a variety of light caps on the market – some use batteries while others are solar powered and charge throughout the day.
The Aussie EvaKool moulded icebox replaced the backyard fabricated icebox two or three decades ago. The EvaKool and the accompanying party ice slurry are compulsory for anglers who aim to bring home a small number of well kept fish and cook them for dinner. I have two sizes; the long 85L box for big snapper, and the made by EvaKool for Wilson 65L version which perfectly suits a boats bag limits of pan to baking tray sized snapper up to around 50cm in length, with a few bent tails.
An ice slurry is made up of broken ice (party ice cubes or smashed blocks) with sea water added. Add enough seawater by bucket to fill in the air gaps between the broken ice on the bottom of your cooler; but don’t add too much sea water such that the ice sloshes around and it sounds like a cement-mixer.
Like the ice slurry technique, Ike Jime Spikes are ideal for the angler who believes the flesh tastes better after a quick post-capture brain spiking.
The facility of a cleaning table back at the boat ramp with lighting, running water and shade means that a fillet knife, cutting board, gut brush, scaler and maybe a touch up stone (or steel) are more commonly carried aboard most craft these days.
My prime knife stays hidden until cleaning time; I prefer a very long blade for single stroke skinning based on the theory that the fewer the knife strokes the better the presentation of the fillet. I use a 270mm blade of a style of knife known as a Japanese Sashimi Knife by IO Shen, made in Asia. I’ve not seen too many others like it around south-east Queensland but the IO Shen Mastergrade is available – check out the distributor on the internet. Even though the knifes 62 Rockwell steel holds an edge for quite some time it will still need sharpening from time to time. The maker’s recommended option for sharpening is a fine whetstone. Sashimi knives are only sharpened on one side, which not only helps in cutting thin strips for sashimi, but it also makes skinning a breeze. These are a great knife style, found in kitchenware stores and chefs’ suppliers.
Just a quick tip with gut brushes. As you’ll see in the photo I have two styles: a long bristle with a short handle and a short bristle with a long handle. The version with the longer bristles has them kept in check by a rubber band around the end of the bristles.
Some of the many tools that may make up a tool roll for snapper anglers include; braid scissors, hook out long nose or bent nose pliers, a hook sharpener, hook file or stone and maybe even a set of scales.
Back at home, in the kitchen or around the BBQ; a cast iron baking tray or at just a big baking tray are essential to cook your snapper in.
A standard oven will take a couple of whole snapper or reefies of around the size that fits into the 65L Wilson cooler, but if the snapper are bigger and you want to cook them whole then the BBQ is the answer.Reads: 17421