The first piece of the puzzle to catching a bag of snapper is to locate them. First off, try reading as many local books or blogs as you can, that cover the topic of snapper hots spots in your local area.
Another good way to find out where snapper are hanging around in your local fishery, is to use YouTube. Try typing in a few keywords like the following example: ‘Port Phillip Bay Snapper Fishing’. Then filter the related videos by date, this is a good tool to find out where they are currently biting. In some videos you will be able to pick up landmarks that you can navigate to. If you analyse these videos, you will be able to pick up a lot of useful information, such as, dusk or dawn, overcast conditions, choppy water or clean conditions, baits that are working in that area, even the rigs that the anglers are having success with. YouTube probably doesn’t get the credit that it deserves as a tool to locate snapper in your area. But I totally recommend this approach as it has gotten me a lot of good results of the years.
An old method of locating snapper is to check in with your local tackle owner, they will usually give you a location or two. (As long as you drop enough coin in their shop)
When anchoring up and targeting snapper, it’s largely because the angler most likely wants to catch a bag limit or catch and let go as many fish as possible. Obviously when anchoring up, the objective is to bring the fish to you, so a decent understanding and use of a sounder or GPS is vital.
Once you have mastered how to read your sounder, and have the ability to spot schools of fish, you will obviously increase your catch rate. However, some anglers may not know where to begin in the first place, this can be particularly challenging if you are fishing a large body of water. The best way around this is for the angler to conduct their own research as a starting point and start to gather some GPS marks.
You can locate GPS marks by searching the internet (start with Google) or fishing books on your local area, (one of Rex Hunt’s books I recall getting quite a few hot spots) again your local tackle store may part with a GPS mark or two, they will often give insight to general locations. I have always found the local angling club guys a great source of information, (shout them a beer, and they will probably spill the beans) some of your mates maybe willing to help you out too.
One of the best sources of information is social media pages that are targeted to your area. You will find those who are trying to grow a social following, very free with information such as GPS marks or hot spots. But always remember a good fisherman will never give out his number one honey hole, and watch out for those on social media who willing give out deceptive locations.
As you start to find hot spots around your local fishery, try keeping a journal and record those GPS marks, so that you can return to the same spot, time and time again. Don’t forget to record the tide and weather conditions, bait used, rig used etc. Most good sounders will allow you to pinpoint those marks.
In some states the government or fisheries have made artificial reefs which can be a pretty good place to start with.
The challenging part of catching Snapper is that they are frequently on the move as they are a grazing fish, so this sometimes can mean even if you have located a hot spot, the snapper may not be there, next time you return. This is why it is important to have several spots in which to fish. Having said that, snapper are a habitual fish due to their feeding and spewing habits.
So why are charter fishermen so effective at catching snapper? This is because they are out on the water almost every day and they can follow the snapper patterns around the bay. Essentially, they will navigate back to the broad area they found them each day and motor around that area carefully observing their sounder up until they find the school again.
It’s nearly impossible to be out on the water every day like a charter boat, however you still need to adopt this method of scouting around in close proximity to your GPS marker until you find the fish again. If you just roll up to a mark and drop your bait and expect to snag a good snapper every time, then you are probably not going to yield good results with this type of thinking, so get on the move until you find them.
If you have a few different spots that are within proximity of each other, try hunting around the first spot and if you cannot locate the fish then move on to the next spot and do the same thing. Drive around in circles for five to ten minutes, it’s better than dropping baits down to nothing and hoping for the best.
Watch the ocean floor as you drive over and try to locate structure, holes, and dips, drop offs, reefs, and something that is not flat bottom. Use your sounder to look out for arches or however your sounder shows fish. Once you find the fish, quickly mark that point on your GPS and then situate the boat so you are near the fish, silently drop your anchor and let the fun begin.