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Snapper Season in Hervey Bay: Complete Angler’s Guide

Snapper: A Fish for All Anglers

There is a chill in the air. The winds have eased and are tending more offshore. Baitfish are amassing in the bay and our inshore waters are clearing nicely. It’s snapper time folks!

To help you in your pursuit of the mighty snapper this season, we have pieced together a few words that should lead you down the right path to snapper success. This article will focus on finding the fish and lure-based techniques for tempting them.

Snapper are within the reach of the smallest of boats, and appeal to fishos from all walks of life. These handsome fish are great-eating and hard-pulling, so tick all the boxes for many fishos. They can be pursued on much lighter tackle than many of their neighbours on our reefs, offering that extra appeal for those that aren’t keen on heavier tackle.

Snapper Hotspots in Hervey Bay

Each winter, varying numbers of snapper enter Hervey Bay and head for traditional grounds with the intent to spawn. Their timing is excellent, coinciding with a massive influx of baitfish that sustain these highly predatory fish during their travels and their stay.

Hervey Bay has many well-known snapper hotspots that have produced quality snapper over the years, and many lesser-known spots that are even better producers in these busy times. Regardless of the location, there are many factors that will determine if snapper will be there, and what artificial presentations will tempt them.

Whether it be close inshore artificial reefs such as the Roy Rufus, the Simpson or the Hardy; ledges such as Moon Ledge, Mickeys or Sammies; or low-lying reefy bottom such as the Burrum 8 Mile or Arch Cliffs 6 Mile; there needs to be a viable food source lingering in the area for snapper schools to justify extended stays. 

Luckily, masses of baitfish, including herring, pike and yakkas (as well as a host of other similar-sized morsels) take up temporary residence around these reefs. Be there on bigger tides when the bait is gathered and your confidence should be peaking. Turn up and the sounder is devoid of baitfish, and you should move on and continue your search.

Initially, many fishos will focus on inshore hotspots, then turn their attention to the grounds in Platypus Bay and the central bay as winter wears on. Low-lying weedy ground that barely registers on even the best sounders, along with numerous reefs, holes, and wrecks will all draw snapper to Platypus Bay waters mid-winter. They will join many members from the trevally clans to predate on the myriads of baitfish that settle into the area.

At the same time, the yakkas will start to turn up at the 25 Fathom Hole and the Gutters, and bring with them schools of snapper. Evening exploits can be absolutely dynamite on these grounds, and many an active lure fisho will be focussed on the fringes targeting snapper so clearly displayed on their sounder screens. Bycatch will be significant, particularly at the Gutters, whilst the dominance of big snapper at the 25 Fathom Hole that time of year will be notable.

Suckers for Soft Plastics

The advent of soft plastic fishing techniques many years ago changed the snapper fishing game forever. Once snapper schools are located, it is a very simple matter of positioning your vessel so that you can present your appropriately-weighted softies to the snapper below. Variations of the same technique, by way of different weight and different plastic profiles or sizes enables you to present the right softy with the right action at the right water depth. So much easier than bait fishing for the uninitiated.

We stock all the best snapper-catching profiles from all the leading tackle companies, as well as a few select niche models from new players in the game. Our expansive range of colours are locally-chosen and will enable you to present the best offering day or night, be it high in the water column or right on the bottom. From prawn and crab imitations and curl-tailed models for grubbing the bottom to a host of jerkshads for working the water column, we have them all.

Match to the Perfect Jig Head and Leader

Our huge range of all the best jig heads enables you to match your preferred soft plastic to the best jig head for the job. You might favour 1/4oz or 3/8oz heads on a windless day after scanning snapper mid-water, then need to revert to heavier weights from 1/2oz to an ounce or so to contend with a little wind or greater water depth. Those same heavier heads can be put to good use in heavily-pressured waters inshore when the sun is high in the sky and the snapper have sought refuge on the bottom away from the boat traffic above.

Scents offer another level of attraction to any soft plastic presentation. Obviously, Berkley’s GULP range is heavily embedded with their magical flavour, but even these snapper slayers can benefit from a re-dip in GULP Alive Juice. Apply a little of the paste-type scents to alternative softies and you just boosted your chances of tricking a cunning old snapper multi-fold.

Fishing for wary snapper demands a degree of finesse, whilst still retaining sufficient grunt to handle the trophies in nasty terrain. Your leader is attached to the business end in any battle and should be considered carefully. Light enough to fool the fish, yet tough enough to withstand their teeth and potential rub-offs. Lighter leaders are suggested for lure fishing when compared to bait fishing, and fluorocarbon leader material can give you a definitive edge in both the abrasion-resistance and invisibility stakes.


The Role of UV-Enhanced Lures

UV-enhanced soft plastics and other lures have gained an increased fan base amongst members of the fishing fraternity. Strongly contrasted colours have been well-proven snapper tempters over the years. Just look at the Nuclear Chicken craze from the past. UV highlights might be just the ticket to make your softie stand out amongst a school of baitfish or a sea of other offerings. 

Boosting your UV presentations with the aid of a UV torch can enhance the brightness of the glow significantly. These torches do wonders for squid jigs, and also enable you to determine which of your lures is UV-enhanced as well. A very handy addition to your arsenal of tackle.

Understanding Snapper Size and Bag Limits

Not all snapper are large models, and it is fairly true to state that the smaller “squire” or “squirey snapper” to a few kilos or 60cm or so, offer the best eating in the culinary stakes. Our Qld bag limit is a mere 4 snapper over 35cm, of which only one fish can be of 70cm or more. We even have a boat limit these days that limits catches to no more than double the individual bag limit if there are two or more people on board. This boat limit also restricts your boat limit catch to no more than two fish over 70cm.

These strict bag and size limits are necessary these days to protect Qld’s snapper stocks from overfishing. In recent years, a month-long closure has also been implemented that puts snapper (and pearl perch) off limits for the period from 15th July to 15th August, inclusive. Work around those dates and consider alternative fisheries to limit your impact on snapper and pearl perch schools whilst they are spawning.

Snapper Fishing Prime Times and Common Bycatch

When the snapper are on the chew, the bites come thick and fast. Fish of all sizes will get in on the action if they can, and the larger models will often be the first to claim a well-presented soft plastic or jig should it come within range. 

Snapper can be caught day or night, but are widely targeted around dawn and dusk. In offshore waters, large numbers can aggregate around rocky reefs awash with baitfish and the competition for food is intense. Similar scenarios unfold at places here in the bay too, though largely later in the season. Evening sessions wafting softies through the water column can also be highly productive, and some folks even hand one rod over to Rodney (the rod holder) to present more than one offering at a time.

Bycatch whilst snapper fishing can be expansive. Grunter are one very welcome form of bycatch that pull as hard as a snapper and taste every bit as good too. The list of bycatches you might encounter on the wide reefs is too long to list, whilst in the bay it could be sweeties, cod, trout, nannygai, tuna, mackerel or trevally, just to name a few. Presentations higher in the water column will avoid some of the reef dwellers and attract more pelagics, whilst grubbing the bottom might reverse that scenario.

The element of surprise when snapper fishing could be considered a bonus. Many folks have been targeting snapper and scored night-time reef jacks by sheer accident; others have connected to enormous cobia and endured the lengthy battle that ensues. You might even catch a large flathead, a spango or blackall, or maybe a trophy jewfish. All this bycatch should only reinforce the fact that snapper-fishing tactics should be replicated in the pursuit of many other species.

Staff Recommendations: Soft Plastics for Snapper

When a few of the boys in our tackle store were asked what their go-to soft plastics were for bay snapper, they each had a differing response: 

For Logan, it was the Daiwa Bait Junkie 5’’ Jerkshad in Pink Glow UV matched to a Daiwa Bait Junkie 3/8oz  5/0 jig head.

For Scotty, it was the Cast Apex 4.2” in Casper matched to a Daiwa Bait Junkie 1/4oz 5/0 jig head.

For Dane, it was the Molix RT Fork Flex 5” in Acid pink matched to a coloured TT Big-Eyez 3/8oz 5/0 jig head, spiced with Shimano’s S-Factor.

Winners all three, yet just a sample of so many alternatives you might apply to your next snapper session. If in doubt though, just give some of the above-pictured combinations a try and you might find out why they are the boys’ go-tos.

Alternative Lures for Catching Snapper

The focus of this article so far has been on soft plastics, however, there is a huge range of other lures that will tempt snapper. Just a few of these are pictured above, and we stock many others instore that have big snapper written all over them.

You are probably all aware of the effectiveness of deep trolling hardbodies such as the Classic Dr Evil, whilst many are still to discover the straight-swimming lifelike deep divers from Venom and Nomad. A slow troll past likely snapper terrain is deadly this time of year and enables a fisho to get away from the main reefs and catch fish that have wandered off into the paddock. Avoiding sharks is often easier for trollers too.

Slow-pitch jigs are deadly on snapper and a huge range of bycatch. We stock every jig you might need to work the shallowest of snapper waters to the greater depths over the continental shelf. Add soft vibes, hard vibes and wonderful presentations such as Nomad’s Squidtrex lures or Chasebaits slow-sinking Smash Crabs and you can arm yourself with an offering for every possible scenario.

Fisho’s 2024 Snapper Combo Deals

To enable you all to gear up for this season’s snapper season, we here at Fisho’s are offering the following dynamite snapper combos or package deals:


Fisho’s 2024 Snapper Combo No 1 – Was $418.99 Now $299.00 Saving $119.99

This combination consists of a Shimano Miravel 4000, matched to a Daiwa Fuego 7’6” 5-9kg spin rod. 

This cost-effective, yet very light-weight combination will give you the extra rod length required to maximise your casting distance which will enable you to get your soft plastics well away from the boat, whilst still offering sufficient control to put the brakes on a rampaging snapper.

  Fisho’s 2024 Snapper Combo No 2 – Was $524.99 Now $399.00 Saving $125.99

This combination consists of a Shimano Exsence BB 4000, matched to an NS Amped III 7’1” 10-20lb Snapper spin rod. 

This affordable and super-light combination offers amazing finesse that will enable you to present your lighter-weighted presentations a great distance whilst still creating the subtle twitches and lure movements to trick the fussiest and wariest of snapper.

 Fisho’s 2024 Snapper Package No 3 – Was $704.94 Now $499.00 Saving $205.94

This package consists of a Shimano 23 Stradic FM 4000, matched to a Tackle World Exclusive Shimano Sakana III 7’2’’ 5-9kg spin rod, with a spool of Cast X12 PE1.5 (20lb) braid, plus two packs of Daiwa Bait Junkie soft plastics and two packs of Daiwa Bait Junkie jig heads of your choice.

This great package deal offers the renowned and brilliant performance of one of Shimano’s best-ever spin reels and a powerful, yet affordable spin rod sporting high class componentry that will enable you to fish anywhere throughout the bay with a vast range of weights and soft lure sizes. An allrounder outfit that will sort out the bycatch quick smart, as well as any trophy snapper. Customise the package to suit your style and likely location by choosing the jig heads and softies to suit.

Now that you have seen the favoured lures for a few of Fisho’s staff revealed above, those of you with a discerning taste for quality tackle might be interested in the boys’ go-to combos shown below:

Staff Go-To Snapper Combos

Dane's Preferred Combo

Dane favours a Shimano Zodias 270H 7’ 7-14lb matched to a Twinpower FE 4000. This incredibly light and perfectly balanced combo enables him to achieve maximum casting distance whilst maintaining intimate contact with virtually any lure he chooses for the bay snapper fishery. The slick precision and impressive torque of the reel marries beautifully to the crisp action of the rod resulting in effortless battles on even the biggest of snapper.

Logan's Preferred Combo

Logan’s go-to snapper combo is a Daiwa 23 Commander Hellkat 7’2’’ 4-9kg matched to a Daiwa 24 Certate 4000-ARK. He has coupled Daiwa’s ultimate pairing to deliver uncompromised performance in even the most challenging of snapper terrain. Unmatched in both power and ergonomic control, this combo enables Logan to mix it with our biggest snapper and have plenty in reserve should oversized bycatch snatch his lure.

Scotty's Preferred Combo

Scotty fishes a Daiwa 24 Certate 5000-ARK paired with a Samaki Zing Extreme V3 7’ 15-30lb. His choice, whilst somewhat relative to his physical dimensions, gives him such incredible power when hooked to his target fish that he can apply extraordinary pressure to bring the fish to the boat before the taxman takes his cut. All this, with no compromise in weight or precision, in a package that retains its light weight nature whilst delivering grunt to burn.

Let the Bigger Knobbies Swim Free

Truly large snapper, nick-named knobbies, are a real trophy fish and warrant a degree of respect. Larger breeders are very fecund and have the potential to add millions of progeny towards their species’ future. Our limits today restrict the take of such fish, yet more and more fishos are happy to return them to the water in favour of smaller models.

Knobbies can be found in big numbers offshore, and in more modest numbers throughout Hervey Bay. The biggest fish caught in the past tipped the scales at a little over 11kg (that we know of), though true 10kg+ (22lb+) fish are very rare. Old-fashioned 20 pounders (9.2kg) are only slightly more common, without being in any way common. 

For your info, a 20lb snapper is about 93cm and 33 years of age; a 10kg fish is 95cm+ and 35+ years of age. Typically, cunning old fish that didn’t get to those dimensions by being stupid. Set your own benchmark, old school or metric, and feel free to let us know when you achieve the Hervey Bay snapper holy grail.

Get Hooked on Snapper

So, with the weather really turning it on of late, the current dropping offshore and increasing numbers of snapper rolling into the bay, now is your chance to get out there and get hooked into one of our most desirable species.

Whether you’re a seasoned fisho keen to test your skills with a new technique or lure, or a complete novice looking to add snapper fishing to your skills set, we here at Fisho’s Tackle World will be more than happy to fit you out and assist you on your journey towards snappery success.

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