It’s all about snapper
  |  First Published: May 2006

It’s all about snapper, now that the ocean is on the cool-down phase. While there no doubt will be some very warm patches of water still in places, it is hard not to turn one’s thoughts to those big, angry crimson beauties.

The long rods come out of sheds and onto rocks up and down the coast. When the snapper are really on you can look on any given point and there will be at least two rods propped upright, waiting for the wrenching take from the fish of a lifetime.

Due to a sustained run of them across the LBG season my freezer is nicely stocked with many frigate mackerel earmarked for numerous Winter snapper sorties. If the ocean remains warm there still should be a few frigates and the odd bonito to be spun up.

Squid stocks have been pretty good of late so there is no excuse for choosing a second-rate bait from the chest freezer of the local servo. Better bait will always produce a better result.

Offshore the reds will no doubt be already in full swing as they always seem to fire before the rocks do. It will be interesting to see how many newcomers forgo bait and jump on the plastic bandwagon. If you can consistently capture fish on lures then I’ll take that option every time and if you do it right the results can be spectacular. It’s a strange feeling, though, heading to the snapper grounds with no bait on board. But if you are serious about giving it a go then leave the bait at home. That way you will devote 100% of your focus to the task.

If you’ve got bait on board, the urge to drop the pick and float a bait out may be too great if the fish prove hard to locate but if you persevere the rewards can be significant. But if all that seems like a candidate for the too-hard basket, anchoring up and feeding out a few floating baits in a berley trail will produce, too. Just don’t head too wide because now is the time that the cuttlefish begin to move inshore.


The Clyde River will soon be a bream desert once more, with virtually all yellowfin bream leaving the system for the ocean. Time spent correctly intercepting their exit will produce fantastic fishing; time it too late and all you’ll get is plenty of casting practice.

Some thumper whiting have been encountered in the shallow backwaters with a few switched-on punters getting good results on poppers and surface plastics in good numbers.

The odd school jewfish is still about but lack of recent rain has resulted in them being wide spread and difficult to locate. One angler witnessed a 5kg schoolie prowling the shallow weed flats in the Tomakin River, no doubt the result of this system becoming a recreational fishing area. A number of school jewfish have been caught in the Tomakin over the past two years so this system is starting to bear the fruits of the removal of commercial nets.

I am tipping there will be some good estuary perch fishing now that there is a chill in the air, with the fish inhabiting the main river rather than the tributaries. And just because it is getting cold, don’t think for a second they wont take surface lures – quite the opposite! Last year I experienced some of the best surface-feeding EP in the colder months.

May also heralds the staging of several yellowfin tournaments on the South Coast so lure spreads will be dominated by smaller jet heads and various minnows pulsing in the prop washes. There had been a slight increase in school yellowfin prior to Summer so it will be interesting to see how the second phase of the tuna season fares.


Participating in the marine park focus meetings has revealed fears for some of my favourite snapper spots being in the crosshairs of the no-go sanctuary zones. It didn’t come as any surprise to me that these spots were targeted. The path of least resistance was always going to be how this thing panned out.

Distance from boat ramps and on foot by land dictated that the North Durras stretch would be one of the first spots to go. Still, the conservationists drawing these lines on the map showed a willingness to be flexible and alter boundaries drawn. The initial focus meeting gave me cause for hope that this process will go OK.

There will have been another focus meeting conducted before this issue hits the stands so by this time we’ll know pretty much where rec angling stands in relation to these park implications.

If another focus meeting takes place in May (which will be likely as the proposal will be finalised in June), I urge you to try to attend so you can have some input. Otherwise you cannot complain once the outcome has been decided.

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