Want to learn more about Snapper Fishing off the Gold coast. Author Ant Coughran explains how.
Snapper/ squire. (Pagrus auratus)
We have many different species of snapper in south east Queensland and Northern NSW waters. Pink snapper is the most common species of snapper in our region and is also known by many other names like squire, knobbies, snap/snaps and pinky or pinkies.
Snapper can be commonly found on most coastal reefs, shale bottom, between reefs, on shallow reefs, ledges, rocks, gravel patches/shale patches, wrecks and bombies out to about 200m of water. They can be caught all year round. But the bigger models push up into the close shallow reefs and bays in the winter months to spawn and feed up.
Their diet consists of a wide range of food sources such as a bait fish, squid and cattle fish, octopus, crustaceans, prawns and shrimp, slugs and small sea cucumbers, soft corals, cunji, mussel’s and clams. They are a schooling fish and are commonly found in packs on most reefs.
They range from Yeppoon around the south of Australia to Karratha in WA.
Snapper in Qld has a size limit of 35cm to 70cm one specimen over 70cm is allowed and a bag limit of 4. With one 70cm to be combined in the 4.
NSW size limits is 30cm and bag limit of 10.
Closed season for Gold Coast Snapper Fishing :
Qld has a closed season for snapper and starts on the 15/07 and ends on 15/08 this applies to all Qld water. But check with fisheries for full details.
* there is closures on this species for curtain lakes in Nsw. Just check with dpi before you fish for them.
Best baits to use for a Snapper fishing:
As stated in their diet above. They have such a wide range to their diet. So they will take a wide range of baits and combinations of baits. But most common baits are Pillies, tuna, yakka’s, pike, mullet, slimmies, gar, whiting, squid, octopus, prawns and small Crustaceans.
*cock in a soak. Squid tube with a pillie in side it injected with tuna oil.
*pillie/ strip bait ( half pillie and a strip of tuna or mullet on the same hook.
*bottom bashing with a patanosta rig. Weight on bottom usually two dropper hooks to a swivel. So a combo of bait on each hook. Peace of squid on the top and a pillie in the bottom. Pillie in top prawn on bottom. Ect..
There is a lot of different styles of bait fishing for snapper but these are the most common techniques:
Gold Coast Snapper Fishing – Drift lining or drift baiting:
Drift baiting is drift your boat over a reef and drifting you baits alone the bottom. This gives you bait the most natural look as it glides around the reefy bottom and usually in the water column where the fish are usually feeding.
The rig: So light sinker to single or double hook rig. Hooks I like to run a 6/0 or a 4/0. Depending on bait size and fish I’m catching. Or I’ll run a smelled 6/0 to 4/0 as a double hook rig. For bigger baits. Weight for this rig will depend on how much current there is. Small sinkers and smaller baits will help with bumping along bottom and not getting caught up. This style of fishing calls for a lot of open bail arm fishing as your always let line out to just keep it close to bottom as possible without getting caught up. Once out to far or no bite. So when your not hitting bottom or lines at a 45• angle pull it in and start again. Casting about 10m or so in front of the boat. Lots of big snaps get caught this way.
Heavy weight on bottom and hooks sitting above so they stay out of the reefs. So with the weight at the bottom. Usually a snapper led. Allows your baits to stay out of the reef and for your sinker to bounce or hop along the bottom. More fished with a vertical style fishing. To feel you sinker bouncing.
Rig: sinker again depends on depth and current. But a snapper led is a must as it’s design is to sit on top of the reef and bounce back out with getting caught. So you want to make a two to three dropper patanosta rig. First dropper for hook if running two droppers and bottom dropper for weight. Or first two droppers with hooks and third one for weight. The reason for the dropper on the weight is so you can change weights to the current with ease. Again hook size depends on baits size and fish targeting. But 4/0-8/0 will do the job.
Flasher rigs: small feathers and Synthetic strands to imitate the scales, bait and tentacles. Best fished with baits added to the hooks and is very affective at catching lots snapper.
Snapper Fishing With Artificial’s:
One of the best way to catch snapper is on plastics. The more finesse you go the more fish you will catch. But there is a fine line between too light and losing good fish and to heavy and not getting to bottom. Most close reefs you only need light set ups. 15- 30lb braid and 20-40lb leader. A 4000 – 6000 reel and a 20- 30lb rod.
Jig size depends on the plastics your using and the current. But you want heavy gauge hooks on them as the crushing powers of the big nobs can break hooks on jig head. I like head locks and nitros. The gauge on the hooks have never let me down.
Tail size, profile and colour: 5- 9inch jerk shads, grubs, minnows and paddle tails all work well. Just depends on the bait on that reef at that time your flicking. Stand out colour are pearl, pink, nuclear chicken, lime tiger, pink shimmer and natural colours like pumpkin seed, blood worm and opening night.
Special mention to squid and octopus plastics. Adding an assist to these lures and having them sitting in the tentacles. Will increase your strike rate.
Micro jigs: 20 – 300g jigs all work well on the right day and depth. 20-60g jigs for out to 40m. 60-150g jigs for out to 60m-70m and 150-300g jigs out to 200m. * Again depends on current and conditions. You may have to go to heavier pendulum jigs when out wide. Just to hit bottom with current.
Best jigs for snaps are flat blat, flutter, pitch shift and slow pitch jigs. Colours depend on the day. Chrome and glow, pink, red, orange and white. All work well. UV depends on the day. Cloudy day high UV colours. Sunny day low UV colours. A UV or black light helps with this.
Lots of set ups on the market for jigging. From spin – over head. But it’s personal preference. A 15-20lb – 30-50lb set up or anything in between will do you out to about 100m. Lighter the better as it will keep your line more vertical and have less line drag in the water. Micros are fishes vertically. So once at 45• angle. Crank it in and start again.
Very similar to micro jigs. Same sizes in same dept. but worked a lot slower. Smaller the movement with these the better. I often just have one trailing out the back in the rod holder about 2ft off bottom. You want to fish these jigs in the rod holder at 45•. You would be surprise how many fish get caught like that. Obviously a loose drag is needed for this but is a good option for you to be flicking plastics while having an octo jig jaht trailing out the back.
Also work on snaps. Size, weight and colour depend on the day.
Deep diving Hard bodied lures can be very affective on catching snapper. Best ran from a downrigger at about 1m above the reef and about 3-5kts. Profile and colour will depend on the day and what bait is on that reef. But 70- 150mm lures in natural colours, red head and UV colour work well.
Vibes and blades:
These little lures can be deadly on snaps. Especially in the bay or in the shale. Running assist hook on you blades and vibes will see you still hook fish but not the bottom.
Preservation and cleaning:
Snapper are best gill cut or throat cut, brain spiked and placed on ice. This humanly dispatches the fish, bleeds all the blood out of the flesh after which was built up in the fight and the ice slurry lowers the flesh temp to optimum level at the fasted pace. An easy fish to fillet. You can knock sides off or trace around the ribs. You can leave skin on or off. Skin is very nice flavours and have a lot of minerals in it. You can bake whole. A sandwich, it’s A very tasty and a very versatile flavour and fillet. So many uses.
*special mention to the wings of snapper. Really good on the bbq or fire. Lots of meat on it.
*special mention to the check meat. Very sweet in snapper.
*using the whole frame of snapper is the best for fish stock or broths.