Simply sit and wait for snapper
  |  First Published: September 2016

Finally, dreaded winter is over. With a hint of spring in the air, sunshine breaks through the rain clouds and snapper are being caught. It’s no wonder so many anglers are hyped. This past winter would be the first I’ve stayed indoors. Six weeks of fishing little reward ended up as another six weeks tying rigs, sorting tackle and getting my rods and reels in order for a full on snapper season.

The sheer amount of anglers put a spin on things, all hitting the port in search of fresh bait for when the reds come. Calamari, yellow-eye mullet, Australian salmon and garfish are all worthy baits for snapper, and readily available if you know where to look. While the reds are still doughy for the next few weeks, fish the shallow banks with berley to attract fish for snapper baits.

Don’t complicate the berleying process. A bottle of Wilson berley pellets, with added aniseed and a little tuna oil, will attract a wide variety of fish. Catching bait, most of the species have small mouths, aside from calamari. In the berley trail, flick out a paternoster rig, containing two droppers tied from 10lb Mustad Fluorocarbon leader. When targeting these species, the right small hook should be able to hook anything. Mustad’s offset stainless steel mid shank hook in size 6 is ideal for this method.

By having the twin dropper arms, two baits can be suspended at different heights in the water column. This gives you the advantage to catch bottom dwellers such as king-George whiting, yellow-eye mullet, flathead, leather jacket, silver trevally, salmon and garfish.

On the snapper front, reports are becoming regular. The Corinella area is the most consistent so far. Some fanatasic quality fish have appeared. The last few hours of the flood tides are most productive. Fish as big as 5kg can be caught. Joh Matherson caught a lovely fish around the 4-5kg, mark fishing the edge of the bank near Spit Point. Joh’s red took a stinky pilchard, which he had in the freezer since last summer.

Other reds have been caught around both Pelican Island and the well-named Shnapper Rock. These are not places to lurk in the dark if you’re unfamiliar with them, but are easily navigated by day. There tend to be smaller snapper in these parts, around 2-3kg. On occasion, a thumper turns up. This is what local angler Gary Smith found when he landed a nice 4kg fish. Gary was fishing for mulloway in 6m of water, on the edge of Pelican.

There have been pinkies caught at the Corals near Observation Point, Rhyll. These have been by-catches, while anglers are out for whiting. Small school sharks have been a huge problem, but will dissipate when the snapper hoards arrive.

Land-based fishing has been good for those keen to head out on weekends. During each tide change, calamari are a viable catch from the San Remo jetty. As the water temperature increases in the next few weeks, they’ll be plenty. The Newhaven jetty has seen nice schools of silver trevally, salmon, whiting and the odd pinkie, for those flicking out paternoster rigs. Keep in mind, the bottom is rocky here, so it pays to beef up your leader material to at least 40lb. Don’t rig up with too big a hook though, stick to a Mustad offset circle in a 3/0 size.

Ventnor Beach has been productive for land-based fishers. When the night’s calm, local anglers catch lovely calamari. The most effective technique has been to cast silver whiting, threaded onto a squid jig. This is suspended around 50-70cm, under a bobby cork float, and cast as far as possible. Don’t forget the glow sticks though, otherwise you won’t see the drift rate of the float. You could end up snagged, or busting off on the reef.

The last hour of the rising tide and first hour of the run out are prime times.

Cleeland Bight at the end of Cottosloe Avenue, Woolamai, is another popular land-based calamari location. The same technique applies and is very effective. This location has a little fishing pressure, along with boats drifting in casting range. If this is the case, drive further down, to the Cape Woolamai surf beach. Walk over the dunes to the back of the eastern entrance. At the end of the sandy path, the water is deep with significant weed beds. This spot’s popular for whiting.

September is the kicker for anglers of all levels. Snapper arrive, and those with ‘snapper brain’ head out at any opportunity. Don’t just follow them. Use your sounder, work the channels and locate your own fish. At this time of the season, they’re not always on the bite, so don’t rush. Be patient and sit with a tide.


Whiting are still a viable option throughout the Port.


When targeting snapper, a single circle hook and a calamari rig is best.


Always use the best tackle when targeting all species in the Port, especially snapper.


Working the shallow banks around the Port is where you’ll encounter most of the reds in September.

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