How to Locate Snapper
One reason that may have contributed to snapper being constantly on the move around the bays, would have previously been the scallop and mussel dredging in Port Phillip and other bays. Now that that has come to somewhat of a halt in recent years, it will be interesting to see the future behaviour of snapper in the bay. Based on this, it is hard to predict where snapper might show up at the same time each year. Perhaps with the banning of netting in the bay, it might just bring some consistency in the movement of these mysterious fish? In recent years anglers armed with two way radio system would set out on the search for big red, when one of the boaties locates a school of snapper he then informs the rest of his fishing buddies via the two way system and the fun begins.
Smart anglers whom broadcast these type of communications will use code langue in order to communicate where they have found the fish. This is done to avoid the masses turning up to their hot spot. This is one of various tricks employed by many local fishing clubs. A code could sound something like the following: “Steer clear of the P6 it’s full of sting rays” the P6 would refer to the location where they have found the snapper, using a grid map. Often clubs or group of anglers will make up their own grid maps to help identify a specific location in the bay.
A sounder can used to locate fish as well as good hunting grounds. This is completely dependent up knowing your sounder and what to look for. There are few different ways to using a sounder. You can either get a baited line directly on something that has caught your interest. Or you can mark the spot on a chart plotter and return to that spot anytime. You can also mark the spot with a led and bubble float so you know exactly where to cast to. For example as you see something on the sounder simply drop a lead with a float on the spot, turn the engine of the boat off and drift about casting distance from the float and quickly drop your anchor. Ensure that you are down current so that your bait is flowing toward the marked spot and not back toward your boat.
1-5 meters deep is regarded as shallow water fishing to most old time anglers and the results can be as good as those form deeper areas, if you come to understand the movement of snapper in your local area. Noise is the major difference between the techniques applied from shallow water fishing to deep water fishing. During rough seas even in the shallow water, making noise will have little impact on your success. However, it is a different ball game when the seas are calm. It is essential that as little noise as possible come from your vessel, when conditions are glassy. Tin or aluminium boats can be particularly noisy, on a calm night or day, even the clang of the sinker hitting the seabed can spook a good snapper off. Mudflats and reefs are good spots to start working in shallow areas if you have access to a motor boat or Kayak. Both these type of area provide ample food sources for snapper, you will find these area very productive if you fish them hard. Many old anglers believe that snapper are easier to catch on the mudflats, purely because there are less complications such as bust offs from reef and submerged rocks.
Snapper will grab your bait turn and run, much like a seagull does when he has scored a chip, and however, sometimes the fish insist on gentle mouthing of a bait, which they can lose interest if they detect the slightest resistance. This is why fishing reels like bait-runners are so effective. As you can set your secondary drag to have no resistance. If you encounter snapper behaving in a manner where they are mouthing your baits, the old time anglers advised me to employ an old school technique, with the intention of reducing the resistance as much as possible. “Simply fish without any lead weight” Or at least go as light as you can go. If possible on these calm sort of days, try to position your baits as far away from the boat as you possibly can. Another great tip that the angling club members gave me was to turn the engine of your boat off well before you get to your desired mark and just use the current or light wind to drift in quietly over you spot. Additionally, try lowering your anchor as slowly as possible and controlling it rather than throwing it overboard at a rapid speed.
The ever popular running sinker is best deployed in the shallow areas but the span of leader differs by up to 1 meter. Old time anglers and modern anglers often use two hooks on the same leader with one sliding as a keeper to retain the baits shape. Of recent times the doubled snelled rigs has been employed to great effect, as it can hold a full pilchard or small whiting. The pound of line is very debatable even among the old timers, for what it’s worth, after speaking with many anglers it would seem that 20-40lb is the general consensus. Obviously the lighter the better, however if you are fishing rubbly bottom with jagged reef or rocks then you will need to adjust your line density according to the ground that you are fishing. Also snapper have pretty rough dorsal fins and other spines that may test the endurance of any light line.
The method chosen to ensure an effective hook up is completely dependent upon the hook pattern chosen by the angler. If fishing with octopus or suicide patterns be sure to set your drag so that there is ample tension on the line. This method will ensure when the fish runs with your bait the pull of the drag will help set the hook. Using these type of hooks usually requires the angler to intervene and strike the fish to ensure the hooks are firmly set.
If using circle hooks, sit back and relax as the hooks will do all the work for you. They are designed to hook the fish without any action from the angler. This is great when fishing multiple rods.
Landbased Snapper Fishing
There are plenty of shore based spots right around Australia. This includes rock ledges, jetties, man-made break walls. Some of these spots are casting distance to snapper feeding grounds, such as rubbly bottom, shallow reef, mudflats, weed beds, channels and gutters. As snapper can be rather shy, and will refrain from showing themselves during the day, especially in the shallower waters close to shore. Based on that particular behaviour of the snapper species most land based angling takes place at night time, or dusk and dawn. The best time during the night hours is purely based on the tides. The exception to the rule here is a good overcast day. Also the prevailing wind creating rough seas is also a big factor to getting a good hook up during the day. Most land-based anglers opt for the running sinker rig, with a leader about 40-50cm, and the use of suicide hooks between 3/0-6/0. The rod used is really a matter of choice and dependent upon the area you are fishing. For example most land based guys use a fairly long rod with a large 6000 reel when they are fishing in the deep shipping channels. This type of set-up gives the angler a very good casting distance, so they are able to get out to the edge of the channel. Whatever you do chose, just ensure that it is well balanced.