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‘Free spooling’ for snapper
  |  First Published: June 2016



At this time of year, most anglers fishing east of the South Passage Bar have switched their focus and are now targeting our number one reef species in the South East, the snapper.

With water temperatures already down around 24-25°C, there’s already been some reasonable numbers caught on the 19, 33 and 35 fathom lines of reef and out on the 90m line.

As I mentioned in numerous reports previously, floatlining is the way to go when targeting snapper. Experienced offshore anglers know what floatlining is, but for those who are new, it doesn’t actually require the use of a float. Instead, it really is about the art of free spooling with overhead reels.

Whether you’re fishing in 30 or 90m, the idea is to be able to eventually get your bait to the bottom, but nowhere near as quickly as you would with a paternoster rig, which will by-pass all the quality fish sitting higher in the water column. Fishing with a set of gaged 5/0-6/0 hooks with either a ball or bean sinker directly above is the way to go, but getting the right sinker weight in very important. Because we have a lot of current and we like to cover a fair bit of ground, most experienced snapper anglers prefer to drift fish with the use of a good quality sea anchor.

When it comes to the right sinker size, make sure you’re not plummeting your bait straight to the bottom under the boat, as this will most likely drop your bait straight past the fish and you’ll get snagged easier. Ideally, you want your gear running away from the boat at around 45° and eventually finding the bottom. If you’re fishing in around 60m, I would start with a 5-6 size sinker and adjust from there based on the conditions.

It’s important for the angler to let the reel free spool as fast as it wants to, but keep in contact with the bait as it makes its way to the bottom. I use my left hand in a pistol grip with my left thumb sitting behind the spool in case it starts to nest up while I let the line run through my fingers on my right hand. I often tell my clients that you don’t feel bites as such, but if you feel the line speed up as it falls to the bottom, set the hooks.

It’s also important not to use braid for this style of fishing, as it’s too direct and doesn’t run off the reel as smoothly. I stick with good quality mono and in the 30-40lb range in a nice thin diameter.

The coming months are snapper time offshore of Brisbane, so get out and nail a few!

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

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