SNAP UP KNOBBIES BEFORE BAN
Now that all the kids are back to school and the route through Mooloolaba to the boat ramp doesn’t resemble peak hour anymore, it’s time to target snapper. Snapper usually can be caught year-round, but feeding patterns change as the weather does and depending on spawning and growth spurts.
During the first week of November the higher water temperatures of around 19-21 degrees stimulate a feeding frenzy in snapper. However, due to the randomness of our Queensland summer this year, the temps have been lower so the snapper haven’t really come on as thick as normal. This past week has been exactly what the doctor ordered to cure the snapper deficiency many anglers have been suffering from!
Normally, I would breath a sigh of relief, as there would be several months of good snapper fishing ahead, but not so this year! Many recreational anglers and charter operators were shocked at the Queensland Government proposal to ban snapper fishing for six weeks in mid February. State Fisheries Minister Tim Mulherin, announcing the ban in December, said it would apply to both recreational and commercial fishers from February 15 to March 31.
This ban is an interim measure until new fishing rules could be finalised to ensure the take of snapper was sustainable after scientific research found the state’s stock had been overfished. This research which spanned over 3 years found numbers were ‘seriously declining and snapper stock is less than 35 per cent of its unfished levels’. A copy of the flyer (pictured) can be picked up from local fisheries offices and it is uploaded on our website at www.swanboathire.com.au or for further information go to www.fisheries.qld.gov.au.
Though a positive move for the sustainability of snapper, charter operators around the Sunshine Coast will suffer greatly as this is peak Snapper fishing season. Anglers and charter operators will have to take advantage of the next two weeks in the lead up to the ban and hope that plenty of other species will be hot on the bite during the six week ban.
Fishing the shallow inshore reefs tests an angler’s skills and hard fighting snapper will put tackle to the ultimate test. If you want to use a Light Spinning rig, consider the Abu Garcia T-Alloy 4500 spooled with 20 lb braid on a 7foot 8-15kg range Wilson’s Live Fibre rod. The next level up is a Medium Spin outfit consisting of an Abu Garcia Cardinal 806 spooled with 30lb braid on a 6foot 6inch 10-15kg range Live Fibre rod. If you prefer overhead outfits, then the Okuma Magsystem reel with 30lb mono on a 7foot 15-24kg range Live Fibre rod is pretty good.
Leader by Shogun or the Surecatch high tensile leader in 50-80lb breaking strain has never let me down yet. Hooks, sinkers and sinkers are also important, to get the best results make sure you have nice sharp hooks or invest in some chemically sharpened ones like the Mustad 5/0-7/0 4200BLN or Gamakatsu 6/0-8/0 Octopus hooks. Size 2 – 4 rolling swivels and a variety of ball sinkers are necessary as well, just rig the correct size to suit the strength of current.
I use the Mustad 4200BLN hooks over the normal 4200’s because they are chemically sharpened and believe me they are exceptionally sharp! This is because of the MT point which is designed to be sharp and piercing. These hooks can be ganged or tied on a snook rig as required. For an added advantage, use about 8cm of 2mm lumino/lumo sleeves above your hook. This not only attracts fish to your bait as they are inquisitive and will minimize the chances of being bitten off. Just add a drop of nail polish to the end of the lumo tube up against the knot to keep it held fast. The tubing increases abrasion resistance and therefore minimizes bust offs.
Bait presentation and quality can mean the difference between a 5kg snapper and a barely legal fish. Big reef fish don’t get to their size by accident. They are efficient at busting off anglers, stealing bait off the hook and become very picky with exactly what bait they will eat. Anglers that want to catch trophy fish go the extra mile with quality well-presented bait.
Fresh bait is the best, but isn’t always readily available. If you can find a school of yakka or slimy mackerel then you should use a bait jig to collect a few, as they are great live or good fresh. Local caught squid can be caught using squid jigs and are about the best bait you can get for big snapper. If these baits are too hard to come by, then pop down to your local bait and tackle shop and buy a few fresh mullet. This is one of the cheaper flesh baits available and it works wonders on wide variety of reef species.
Mullet fillets are as tough as nails and can be cut into whatever shape you like. I find long slender strips of fillet pinned in the top third with the tail section flapping in the current to be very successful. Whole frozen local squid are also excellent bait for big reef fish. Rig them on a set of gangs or snelled hooks so that there is a hook in the point of the fish and one in between the eyes. I prefer to fish with two snelled hooks in whole baits, as it allows them to move more freely and naturally through the water. When you buy bait pick the best quality you can find.
The pick of spots this week include Noosa’s Sunshine Reef, Murphy’s and the Barwon Banks out of Mooloolaba. Reports are on the increase which is a big thumbs up for the next two weeks – snap to it and get amongst the action!
Andy Gunn fished on the eastern side of Old Women Island last week over night using large slimy mackerel for quality snapper and spangled emperor.
Michael Wilkinson and his mates Troy, Kyle and Blair fished the Barwon Banks for a mixed catch that included some quality snapper.