Having a ball on snapper
  |  First Published: August 2005

I’ve walked into a few tackle shops lately and besides the usual question of “How’s the fishing?” everyone seems concerned with the state of the South Passage Bar. A couple of boats have rolled there over last few months, and it’s made many boaters worried.

May and June saw the Bar pick up quite a bit of swell because of low pressure systems hanging off the east coast. If that swell comes in with any size and from the wrong direction, the Bar can turn very nasty. Point Lookout shelters the bar from the south and most of the southeast swell, but as soon as there is a bit more easterly in the swell all the way through to a northeasterly swell, the waves crash straight onto the bar and turn it into a very ugly piece of water.

Along with swell size and direction, tidal run also plays a large role in the condition of the Bar. It’s relatively easy to cross most bars on the flood tide (run-in) with swell and tide running in the same direction, but as soon as the tide turns and starts to run out (ebb tide), things can change very quickly. You end up with steep pressure waves standing up tall because the tide and swell are running straight into each other.

On days with higher tides dropping out to shallow lows, the amount of water leaving the bay is at its peak and the South Passage Bar is a good place to stay away from.

The main things to take into account when planning a fishing trip east of the South Passage Bar is the swell height and direction, and tide times for when you’ll be setting out and returning. Plan your crossing accordingly and let people know where you’re heading (friends and rescue organizations) and make sure your engine is serviced and running well. Information on swell size and direction is generally available from dial-it-up weather services (Maritime Safety on 1300 360 428 for Southeast Queensland) and also on several internet weather sites (southeast Queensland http://www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/wrap_fwo.pl?IDQ17500.txt).

The South Passage has a few openings to cross through, and the two most commonly used ones are the northern gutter and the Amity Channel. Each crossing can be good or bad on any given day so don’t be afraid to check both crossings out before taking on the South Passage Bar. The South Passage Bar is workable in most conditions, but when it turns nasty it’s a great place to avoid.


Snapper and squire have turned up in good numbers and most anglers are having a ball bagging out. The fish haven’t been restricted to certain areas of reef; most reefy areas from the 29 Fathoms out to Deep Tempest are producing good numbers and size of fish.

The size of the squire has been very pleasing, with a lot of fish in the 2-3kg bracket. There have also been some good snapper of better than 5kg turning up regularly.

On recent charters we have been fishing two paternoster-rigged outfits and two floatline outfits. Both set-ups have been producing good fish, with the only real difference being the odd larger snapper being caught on the floatline rig.

There have also been some good pearl perch in the deeper water, with the odd amberjack thrown in for good measure.

For the surface angler there have been a few late-season Spanish mackerel hanging around the Cape Moreton area. They’ve mostly been quality fish, but they aren’t around in any large numbers. The best thing to do if you’re keen to catch a Spanish mackerel is to just go out and give it a go. You might be surprised at what turns up this month.

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


1) Matt Hanlon was stoked to score this 5kg snapper.

2) Quality snapper and squire have turned up in good numbers. This 6kg fish came from the 35s.

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