Snapper run of fun
  |  First Published: September 2016

We have recently and are continuing to witness one of the best snapper seasons – they’re everywhere. Throughout July, I managed a personal record of nine offshore sessions. Our weather was almost perfect with most of my trips in the late afternoon. The ocean was like a lake, winter’s so good.

Snapper has been my main target and they have not disappointed. Caloundra 12, Caloundra wide, Murphys and the banks are all fired up and producing quality fish. A mixed variety including tuskfish, sweetlip, trout and pearl perch are filling our eskies right across the coast. Most of my snapper have been caught in late afternoon and into sunset. I can’t stress enough – anchor over your favourite spot, berley up and present your offering. Magic will happen. Use a mixture of baits while snapper fishing. My top three are pilchard, squid and mullet strips. Work the entire water column from bottom to top and keep checking that your baits are well presented.

One of my closest fishing mates won’t try bait. He insists on using plastics and lures, with success. I generally out-fish him with my stinky baits, but it’s often a contest to see who’ll win. Please remember your bag limits when fishing for snapper in QLD – four fish per person with one fish over 70cm and a minimum size of 35cm. The ideal size snapper is around 45cm. If we let the bigger ones go, we’ll sustain a stronger snapper future.

Now onto the wreckreational fishing, there are a number of wrecks across the coast fishing extremely well for cobia, yellowtail kingfish and pearl perch. Although some of these are better known than others, please remember to show courtesy to other anglers by giving each other space. There is nothing worse when you are connected to a decent fish and you have another boat sitting on top of you.

Cobia will drag you half way across the ocean most of the time, before they unwillingly come to your boat. Kingfish will take most dead or strip baits, but you can’t go past offering them a live bait. I have live baited for years and caught some cracking specimens. If I can’t find live bait, I don’t fish for kings.

Fishing in close, around the inner and outer Gneerings Shoals, Coolum Reef, Currimundi Reef or around Brays Rock is best very early in the morning, or later in the evenings. If you can time a tide and moon combination, then all the better, as this will more than improve your chances. Estuaries across the coast have seen some whopper bream, especially throughout the Pumicestone Passage and Pelican Waters canal systems.

The Caloundra boardwalk, Happy Valley and the good old military jetty are good spots for a variety of species this time of year, including mulloway, tailor and whiting. Moving further up north of Caloundra, you’ll find the Maroochy River, which has some great fishing around the famous cod hole and Chambers Island.

Good reports of quality bream and flathead have been recorded over the last month and should continue throughout September. Fresh bait is best and can be the difference between fish or no fish. Throw that cast net and haul a few fresh mullet and herring, hook them up and you’ll thank me.

Small plastics, wriggers or hardbody lures often produce results throughout our estuaries, but can take time to master the technique. Once mastered, this method of fishing can be dynamite. Work and move your lures around rock walls, pylons, jetties and any deep holes you can locate to improve your chances. You can always cast a 10-20g metal slug around a bait school, or moving water, because you never know what lurks below.

Over the next month is a great time to target tailor and mulloway across our many beaches from Caloundra through to Noosa. There are plenty of other species including dart, bream, flathead and whiting. Remember, fresh bait, tide changes and moon phases. Get yourself a bait pump and work the sand for a fresh yabbie or pipi to improve your chances. Wherever you’re fishing, play safe, stay safe and have fun.


Phil with his first snapper.


Damian with an amberjack caught wide off Caloundra.


Ross with a tuskfish caught off the banks.

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