A Feed of Snapper?
  |  First Published: August 2006

The next few months are all about snapper and if the season is anything like the last couple we’ve had, we’re in for some serious fishing days.

One of the questions I get asked most is the best place to catch a feed of snapper.

I hunt my snapper in a lot of locations east of the South Passage Bar, but unless I’m targeting XOS fish on isolated pieces of ground south of Point Lookout, I stick to a few main reef structures. My main fishing ground is the 29s and 33s east of the South Passage Bar and I also like to fish the very southern end of Wide Caloundra in depths between 55-65m. These areas hold fish all year, but June-October, when the water cools down a few degrees, is when the snapper really school up and can turn it right on for anglers.

The 29 Fathom Reef lies in approximately 50-60m of water and runs north to south from due east of the South Passage Bar right up to east of Mount Tempest. This is an area well worth doing some homework on if you are searching for snapper. It has numerous humps, bumps, ledges and drop-offs that hold fish and it’s only a few kilometres from the bar. The 29s is usually my first stop in the morning. Unless I know the snapper are holding in one particular area of reef I start at the southern end and work my way north until I find the feeding fish.

The 33 Fathom Reef, although not as prominent as the 29s, still has many humps and bumps that hold great quantities of fish. The 33s also run north to south, but are found in 65-70m of water. The 33 Fathom Reef is east of the 29s by only a few kilometres and you can easily work between the two reef structures without burning up too much time and fuel while waiting for the peak bite periods.

Snapper, like most reef fish, feed better during the day on certain moon phases and in certain weather conditions, but on most days they’ll still have a bite period around dawn or dusk. Quality pillies and fresh stripbaits are all you require to catch a good feed of snapper, so you can be on the reef with a bait in the water as close to daylight as possible and get the best of the morning’s fishing.

When the fish go off the chew you can work out into the deeper reef lines in 35 Fathoms in search of fish that are still feeding. Last season and so far this season we have scored a lot of quality snapper in the 2-3kg squire bracket with a couple of fish around 5kg to liven things up.

When travelling between the 29s and 33s, there are a few isolated bumps that can hold good numbers of fish, so keep an eye on your sounder and you’ll be surprised at what you find, and what you catch!

Quite often the South Passage Bar decides to show her ugly side so I’ll run up north on the inside Moreton Island and fish the bottom of Wide Caloundra. It takes about 90 minutes to run up there in my 7m Haines Hunter Patriot and as there is no bar to cross, you can get away in the dark and be up there for the early morning bite.

I fish in 55-65m and I work it the same way as I do when fishing the 29s and 33s. The quality of the fish in this area is a little better than east of the South Passage Bar with a lot of snapper in the 3-4kg bracket, but you don’t seem to get as many fish in the 6-8kg range like you do on the 29s and 33s.

I like chasing snapper in 50-60m as it’s an enjoyable depth to fish and you don’t have to crank your bait back in from 80-90m every drop. The larger snapper also seem to be more regularly encountered in the shallower water. I still fish the deeper water on a regular basis and at this time of year areas like the 35s, Round Patch and the extensive area of Deep Tempest produce many fish. The Barwon Banks, and especially the outer edges of the complex in 75-90m of water have produced a lot of fish in the 3-5kg range and one of the reasons is that it is accessible in the dark as there is no bar crossing to contend with. This means more anglers can fish the peak dawn and dusk bite periods without having to drive through crashing surf on a nasty bar on the way there or the way back.

I’m sure that many of the deeper reefs east of Moreton Island would fish well and produce similar numbers of fish as the Barwon Banks, but most anglers (for good reason) prefer the easier option of running out from Mooloolaba, than going across Moreton Bay around Comboyro Point, around Cape Moreton and then fishing the Banks.

At present squire and snapper have been holding at most of the regular haunts, but they aren’t hitting full gear just yet. Hopefully by August they will be well on and ready to go.

Enjoy your fishing, take care on the coastal bars and if you’d like to join me on a charter (max. 4 persons), give me a call on (07) 3822 9527 or 0418 738 750.

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