Now many of you are probably groaning every morning when your lovely warm tootsies hit the cold tiles as you scamper to the bathroom. But this frosty weather is an aphrodisiac for the snapper on their annual breeding pilgrimage. These breeding snapper are usually rather hungry and that is just what the snapper fishing fraternity are hoping as they rise before the sun comes up and hit the water in search of a prized ‘knobby’ to bring home for the family.
Pre-winter we featured some of the basic techniques of snapper fishing on local reefs to prepare readers for this year’s snapper season. Now that we are in the thick of the snapper fishing season, (and strangely as the end of financial year sales come to an end) many of the national tackle companies have decided to bring out new products, many being excellent for chasing snapper.
Fishing the shallow inshore reefs tests an angler’s skills and hard fighting snapper will put tackle to the ultimate test. Some of the new products I’ve had a sneak peek at this week and coupled together to make ideal snapper rigs include:
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.
Other tackle which is tried and tested, never letting me down is leader by Shogun or the Surecatch high tensile leader in 50-80lb breaking strain. 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 what ever 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.
Tackle and bait is the starting point for catching a big knobby. Temperatures below 10degrees are sublime for snapper fishing, just be sure to rug up to avoid catching a cold! Next week the focus will be on technique and the use of soft plastics for snapper. Get out amongst the action or ‘snap to it’ as my wife likes to say when my list of chores is yet to be started!