Snapper hunt in the shallows
  |  First Published: May 2008

The snapper are on in a big way. May is the true start to the snapper season with schools of big reds moving into the shallows to feed and breed.

Cuttlefish, too, generally start moving to the shallows to begin their breeding ritual around the same time. Cuttlefish rate very high on the snapper’s most desired food item and it is no surprise that they share the same habitat over the Winter.

Once cuttlefish complete their breeding they become weak and eventually die. That makes them sitting ducks for marauding packs of dolphins, which choose to eat off their heads and leave the body around its buoyant shell to float on the current. This mobile ‘berley’ attracts everything, from big seabirds, seals, and sharks and, of course, snapper.

With an ever-growing interest in catching snapper on soft plastics, more dyed-in-the-wool bait anglers are crossing over to luring.

Dean Heycox has been chasing snapper off the rocks for over 20 years and has recently embraced soft plastics from a boat.

A recent trip with a mate drove home the point when the boys fished up to 9am for only two snapper then made the call to drift and fish plastics. By the end of two sessions the boys had scored 31 more reds to almost 5kg.

Dean had converted yet another bait angler to plastics with Charlie heading to the tackle store to blow some wages on a new Loomis and Stradic, not to mention a bucketload of plastics. Dean said that his boat would never be dirty again from berley and bait.

Even though the taper down to Winter is progressing there has still been some fantastic kingfish action. Ben Roberts has had numerous sessions on kings to 95cm with one standout two-man session resulting in almost 60 fish released.

Off the rocks, the action has been slow but worthwhile. On a recent solo trip I found a nice 98cm kingfish that thought a big slimy mackerel was just too good to resist. The delicious fillets were very welcome for the next few dinners but the unsightly weeklong groin bruise from the gimbal was most unwelcome.

LBG is a team pursuit and besides the fact that rock fishing is a dangerous pastime, gaffing your own fish and not being able to get to the gimbal belt is tough work.

Local angler Rohan has been putting in a lot of time on the rocks chasing kingfish and was nicely rewarded with a well conditioned 85cm king. Unfortunately for Ro, the next bait out found one of those animal kings that just can’t be stopped.


Already some really good action has been taking place on black drummer. Etienne DeCelis found a monstrous school of big black drummer tailing over a shallow ledge and proceeded to catch a fish a cast, keeping the first three for a feed and releasing the rest, including some of the biggest he has ever had on. Like most good drummer sessions, he also had some sensational bust ups.

He returned the following day with his brother-in-law Ned and it was game on again but now the fish have moved on, proving drummer aren’t as sedentary as many anglers believe.

There have been reports of numerous big flathead being released in the Clyde with plenty of talk of 70cm to 85cm fish.

Good numbers of bream have been found along with some nice perch above the Nelligen bridge, mainly on shallow-diving minnows, generally of the frightfully expensive imported variety. They do look the goods, I just cannot justify spending so much on a bream lure.

Some good bass are still being encountered for the canoe enthusiasts.

Out on the continental shelf, a few marlin continue to show up along with plenty of rat mahi mahi, indicating that there is still some warm water out wide. Striped tuna have gone quiet, as have the yellowfin, but I suspect that will have changed by the time you read this.

I am out of my takeaway shop now and working in landscaping so for the first time in my life I am a ‘weekend warrior’. I am planning to do a heap of snapper fishing, a bit more LBG, a few long overdue trips to the shelf chasing yellowfin and I definitely need to feel some sand under my feet again with some night jewie sorties.

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