What Makes Winter Great in Hervey Bay – Snapper
Oily calm seas greet you and your crew as you point your pride and joy out into the bay. It is cold. Well, Queensland’s version of cold anyway, but you are rugged up, rigged up and rearing to go.
All eyes are on your sounder as you come off the plane and you scan the waters fringing your favourite piece of reef. There is bait. Hordes of bait. Yakkas, herring, pike. A veritable smorgasbord. The anticipation builds.
You scan further ahead, past the bait, and there they are. Textbook boomerang arches on the screen, a couple of metres off the bottom. Several fish, some of them rippers. You turn to tell your crew to prepare to cast, but they are way ahead of you.
A plastic flies past your ear as you reach for your rod. You watch as another mate’s jig disappears into the depths below the boat, and you send your vibe up-current. All the bases are covered, but will they bite?
The answer is quick. Your mate’s jig barely touches bottom and he lets out a groan in protest as line is torn from his reel. Mid-cheer, your vibe gets intercepted on the drop and it’s a double. More cheers and jeers at the third hand until his rod is nearly wrenched from his grasp.
Lunging runs followed by pauses and jarring head-thumps transmitting through the rods give away their identity. A few good runs, and all eyes are now peering into the depths. That unmistakable silver pink gets closer and the blue lines on the tail and spots on the flanks confirm. They are snapper, and ripsnorters at that – they are knobbies!
This video from last year might help you set the scene...
You too can put yourself in this scene. It is wintertime in Hervey Bay and the annual run of snapper have arrived. From the shallow fringing reefs within cooee of the ramps to the wide grounds in the north and the offshore waters to the shelf, there are snapper on offer on most of our reefs.
WHERE TO FIND SNAPPER IN HERVEY BAY
Stay inshore and fish our artificial reefs and ledges, or head out a little further and try the rubble grounds off the Burrum or the many reefs and weed patches in Platypus Bay.
Head wider and work the verges of the Gutters, the Rooneys reefs, or keep heading north and ply the waters east of Breaksea Spit. The vast grounds east of the Wide Bay Bar are within day range too and offer champagne snapper fishing in winter.
Not only are snapper a truly handsome fish that tastes superb, but they fight hard and release well in our bay waters. Snapper are truly predatory and can be tempted with a huge range of artificial offerings. Get bored catching snapper? Hardly. There is always another lure to try.
Soft plastics galore, soft vibes, slow-pitch jigs, octo jigs. They will all catch snapper and offer an option for all conditions and the fussiest of fish. The bigger fish are particularly susceptible to trolled deep divers too, so there is a lure and a style of snapper fishing to suit everyone.
CHECK OUT OUR SOFT PLASTICS RECOMMENDATIONS
BAIT FISHING TIPS
Many cut their teeth bait fishing for snapper and continue to enjoy the sport. It is simple enough, yet does require a little extra attention to detail if you want to trick the wiser and more cunning knobbies.
Big tides, berley and locally-sourced baits are key in Platypus Bay where the currents are minimal. In fact, the bigger tides are key just about everywhere. It is a snapper thing. They roam – a lot. They also school up though and will attack baitfish schools in packs or join in the fray when their pelagic neighbours round them up.
You can catch snapper on the bottom and right up through the water column. Their diet is expansive. Fish, squid, prawn, crab, shellfish. They will have a favourite of the day. More likely determined by their environment and what food source is most abundant.
Snapper have had a tough time in recent years. Drought on land – drought at sea and all that. Thankfully, today’s fisho respects the resource and doesn’t aim to over-exploit. The rules make sure of that:
Minimum size in Qld is 35cm. Bag limit is 4, of which only one can be 70cm or more. Boat limit of 8 applies for 2 of more people on board, of which only 2 can be 70cm or more.
These fish are here to spawn and to that end, our government has applied a one-month closure on the take and targeting of snapper from 15th July to 15th August. Leave them alone to do their thing and we will have more fish for the future.
Make the most of our winter snapper fishery. Day time, night time, dawn and dusk. Focus on the key bite periods, pick the better tides and monitor the position of the moon. Put the effort in, be observant and you will work it out.
SNAPPER LOVERS HERVEY BAY
Here are some awesome pics from last season