Land Based Snapper Fishing
Land Based Snapper Fishing
As a kid we were always chasing big reds, by both land based and boat. We learnt to fish on the inshore reefs around the West Coast of Victoria from Torquay through to Lorne. These days when the snapper season hits Victoria, the urge to chase other fish fast diminishes and the only fish I’m interested in catching is that big red!
Chasing snapper is a generational practice off the rocks. I have been fortunate to learn from several family members including my father, and my uncles whom are all keen fishermen.
Spots to Fish:
Just about every headland will hold snapper. The challenging part is to find the spots with deep water, a broken rubbly bottom within casting distance. Something to look for, is old holes whittled into the rocks, generally filled with sand, these holes could indicate an old-timer’s secret snapper spot. This method has proven very successful over the years.
In some cases the natural landscape can leaves us clues, to how deep water could be in a particular area. Keep an eye out for steep cliffs directly behind a rock ledge. Often cliffs behind a platform will continue below the waterline.
Snapper are a grazing fish feeding on crustaceans and so forth; therefore you are most likely to find them in and around reefs or broken rubbly ground. Try staying away from reef covered in kelp, as it will most likely result in a lot of bust offs and snags. Also kelp beds are home to scavenger fish, which will more than happily swipe you bait. You will find that you get the best results when you find broken ground that separates reef from sand. Schools of snapper will be foraging through areas like this, searching and scrounging for an easy feed. Often you will also encounter larger reds 4kg and above traveling through the area, normally the larger fish travel in much smaller numbers.
Gravelly edges may extend up to 50 meters past a reef, therefore you need to ensure that you have a decent outfit that will let you cast at a good distance. I like to use a bait-runner loaded with a minimum of 20lb mono as the main line. A seven foot rod with plenty of whip should do the trick, getting you into the zone.
When fishing along reef, broken ground or kelp the undeniable truth is you are likely to lose some of your tackle. This is why it is vital to ensure you rig up using quality tackle. When it comes to pre-tied rigs you cannot go past Hook in Mouth Tackle’s products. They are made with super heavy duty mono-filament leader ranging from 40lb to 80lb, which is perfect for this type of fishing. The rigs have specifically been designed to withstand abrasion. The knot system employed by Hook in Mouth Tackle uses dropper loops, so there is less chance of a knot giving way. Don’t take a change of losing a big fish, which you worked hard for, with cheap and inferior tackle.
Times to Fish:
Equally important of where to fish is when to fish. Timing is everything when it comes to snapper fishing. Predominately Snapper are a deep water fish, however they are prepared to come into the shallows close to shore, but the will need motive to do so. The main incentive for snapper to come in close is an easy feed. Given snapper are a shy and cautious fish they like a little cover before migrating into the shallows. Big windy days help to stir up sand into the water providing the fish ample coverage. Most of our success catching land based snapper has come during the tail end of a strong blow or the day after a strong blow.
Snapper will be more inclined to feed in low levels of light in and around the shallows. So dawn and dusk make the best times to chase the big red. I like to be in my chosen spot at least 30 minutes before dusk or dawn. This gives me a chance to get the burley trail flowing before sundown or sunup.
The most popular technique used for snapper from land based spots is to fish the bottom using a paternoster rig. Use a four-ounce snapper lead sinker tied to the bottom of your paternoster rig, this type of weight will help you get that distance you need to get to the gravely zones. 3/0 to 6/0 Octopus Beak hooks on a Twisted Dropper will probably cover you most fish encountered around the shallows of the coast line or bays of Australia. The paternoster rig helps to your hooks off the bottom, meaning fewer snags.
Once the fish grabs your bait you will need to strike hard and quickly and start winding to ensure you get the snapper up and out away from any rocks, that you could get snapped off or snagged on.
Baits to use:
I find the best bait for Snapper is fresh squid head and a strip bait of mullet. These baits are tough enough to withstand assaults of small fish. For more solid hook ups, pin the bait at the top so there is plenty of hook gape exposed.
Pilchards are also a very good bait, however can be little softer and you might find yourself re-baiting regularly. Rule of thumb is, if you are chasing a big fish then uses big bait, if you’re looking for a fish in the 1-2kg range then go with smaller bait.
Snapper are a hard fighting fish and make a great feed, so get into it and enjoy getting on to some great fish.