At this time of the year usually the snapper start to move around and school up on the outside, close and bay reefs.
There are so many methods that can be used for catching snapper. We catch most of them in the deep water by floating pilchards down to the depth of water where they are schooling. It is best to be very patient and let your bait travel to the bottom as slow as possible. When you hit the depth of water that the snapper are feeding at they will take the bait. If you drop the bait too fast you may go straight past them and they will miss it.
Berley works very well for snapper, as they never seem to get full from eating as much as they can. When we clean the fish we always look inside their gut to see what they have been eating and sometimes they are totally full of our berley yet still want to eat a pilchard.
At other times in the deep water they will be near the bottom and we catch them on bottom bashing rigs, but we would rather use floaters any day as it is more fun then cranking them up off the bottom.
If we move in to the shallower reefs of 30-40m of water we have found that live bait works well. We use slimies, scads or yellow tail pike on a stinger rig with the smallest sinker that you can use. It is best fishing in the shallower reefs when it is quiet in the early morning or late afternoon. At times they will come on the bite in the middle of the day as well.
When we are float fishing we don’t bother using a trace, we just tie the rig straight onto the main line. The rig we use with pilchards is three either 5/0 or 6/0 hooks ganged with a swivel on top so your line doesn’t twist. Above the swivel we have a lumo bead so the sinker doesn’t bash against the swivel or get caught on it. It may also help to attract the fish in the deeper water. A stinger rig is set up the same way as the ganged hook rig.
When we go fishing for snapper in the bay we have found that they don’t need a lot of structure to hang around. In winter they will be near any wrecks, coffee rock or even gravel bottom as they move into the shallower water to spawn. If there are also small baitfish hanging around some structure they will be there feeding on them. Usually live bait and sometimes octopus tentacles are good because the smaller fish don’t attack and eat the bait before a larger fish finds them.
Another method that we use these days is drifting shallower reefs with soft plastics. There are so many ways and places that you can catch snapper. You can go chasing snapper in most weather because you don’t have to go out wide to find them. We have caught a few all the way up Bribie passage while we have been whiting fishing so they must travel around a lot especially when the water is clean.
We hope that some of the ways we catch snapper help you catch some.
Happy fishing, Jay and Jaret.Reads: 3369