This month we’ll talk about some of the places, baits and rigs I use when chasing snapper to about 1.5kg in Port Hacking, Botany and Bate Bay.
Snapper vary from red to golden pink to light grey on their back and sides and have numerous small blue spots. Other common names include cockney bream (small juveniles), red bream, squire (the ones we’re chasing), old man snapper or knobbies (large adults with bumps on their heads) and, in WA, pink snapper.
The juveniles mainly inhabit inlets, bays and sheltered waters, often over mud and seagrass, while adults can be found down to 200m. Juvenile snapper head out to reefs and rocky outcrops when they are about a year old and around 6cm long.
Snapper reportedly live to 35 years and 22-year-old fish are common in South Australia. They grow to 1.3m and about 17kg but at this size are very rare in Australia, although more common in New Zealand.
During Winter snapper are often caught in Botany Bay and Port Hacking by anglers going for bream, flathead and mulloway with strip or live baits.
To target Winter snapper in Port Hacking, start working boats on swing moorings in places like Gymea, Yowie, Burraneer and Dolans bays, both North West and South West arms and the shoreline along Deer Park. All these are a mixture of sand, weed and broken reef, deep water and concrete mooring blocks.
I use fast-taper rods between 1.8m and 2.1m and 6kg to 8kg line on BaitRunner-style reels to allow the snapper to pick up the bait and run with it. The trick to hooking them is not to remove the rod from the holder, just flick the runner switch on the reel and let the rod embed the hook.
You can anchor in among the boats and berley with small cubes of pilchards and use baits of unweighted half-pillies or you can just drift in and around the boats with a half pillie on a long leader with a No 2 bean sinker behind the swivel. The leader should be between 1m and 2m. I prefer to have the rod in a rod holder rather than hold it.
In Botany and Bate Bays I always anchor around places like Bare Island, Henry Head, Kurnell Point, Sutherland Point, The Drums, the Oil Wharf. Molineaux Point and the deep water out in front of Port Botany. In Bate Bay you could try Shark Island, Boat Harbour, Merries Reef, Jibbon Bombora, Osborn Shoals and the beach on the inside of Port Hacking Point.
Other baits that you could try when chasing snapper include strips of mullet, bonito, striped tuna, skinned yellowtail and garfish. Large peeled prawns and poddy mullet are also worth a try.
So the next time you are sitting at home wondering what to do with yourself, why not get out there and chase a few Winter snapper.
Weight to length equation for snapper.
Weight (in grams) = 0.0467727 x Length (in cm) 2.781