Anchor right for snapper
  |  First Published: April 2008

There are still remnants of the plentiful snapper we enjoyed over the Easter break and although numbers are down, fish are much bigger as they put on Winter fat.

I’m often asked about snapper secrets and I find the main reason fishos miss out is that a lot of boats anchor somewhere close to the grounds, hoping that near enough is good enough. If you want fish, you have to be right over the selected area or you’ll miss out.

Here is my routine for anchoring directly over a chosen reef, drop-off or shale.

When you’ve arrived at the predetermined mark on the GPS and confirmed it on the sounder, switch the GPS to plot screen. Turn off the motor and let the boat drift.

A dotted line on the plot screen will show your track after taking into consideration wind and current. All you do now is motor back up the track on the reciprocal bearing to your drift, past the mark (how far depends on depth, current and anchor-holding ability) and drop the pick.

Remember, wind and current have already been taken into the equation and you should pass directly over your spot. Lower the anchor, keeping an eye on the sounder, and when the sounder and plotter say you are directly over the mark, tie off.

Remember too that wind and current change so regularly monitor your station and move the boat on the bridle or re-anchor to remain in prime position.

Next task is the berley. With my large, deep-water berley dispenser I empty two loads, one on the bottom and one close to the bottom. I flick in cubed fish pieces every minute or so to supplement the main berley.

I rig weightless pilchards or squid and float them down with reels in free spool.

Snapper takes are unmistakable. They are fast runs as line pours off the reel.

Lift the rod to set the hook and hang on as the powerful beats of that large paddle tail bend the rod. Drags will groan on larger fish but don’t panic and start to wind.

After a short time tail beats subdue and you can start the pump-and-wind routine. Half-way up, the fish’s swim bladder usually pops and the last bit is easy cranking.

Seeing one of these huge beasts with their bright, blue iridescent spots come spiralling up from the depths still gives me that tingling feeling.


So, what’s been happening over the past month?

Now we have seen a slight drop in water temperature trevally are hanging around, giving great sport when least expected. Target areas that have broken reef and remember that these fish respond well to a consistent berley trail.

A Japanese friend reckons trevally makes even better sashimi than the much-exalted yellowfin tuna and are highly sought after in Japan.

Double-snood dropper rigs worked well on the rubber lipped morwong for Johnnie Stilletson and brother Mark 2km off North Head. Letting the snapper sinker hit bottom and then bringing it up a metre was the key to success.

There’s been a sand whiting fest on the Northern Beaches. Although bloodworms have been difficult to track down in local tackle shops, the whiting will happily wolf down a farmed tube worm.

I don’t know what the bait was but Col Long landed a very respectable 10kg mulloway off Mona Vale Beach. As Winter approaches, the jew start to crank up on the Northern Beaches.

Half-way down Mooney Mooney Creek in the Hawkesbury, flathead are crowding the mudflats in numbers. An unweighted Hawkesbury prawn is prime fodder for these ambush feeders so wait until a lull in the tide to try this stealthy approach.

It is with regret that I report Pittwater is still a bit slow. Even the best efforts have shown very little result.

One angler found a patch of sand flathead tucked in the northern corner of Currawong Beach and his camo worm soft plastics worked well.

Now water levels have dropped in Narrabeen Lagoon, fish are a lot more co-operative. Two fellas working small shads at Middle Creek nailed nine fish in an hour. Although most were undersize, both commented how aggressive the hits were.

• Monthly tip: When bringing in a fish, ensure the landing net doesn’t come in contact with it until your catch is in the middle of the hoop and ready to lift. Just a scrape with the frame will frighten the fish and that extra strain on the line could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

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