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Sneaky Snapper Tactics

Here in Hervey Bay, we look forward to an annual run of snapper that begins late autumn and hits top gear mid-winter. It has been a little warmer than usual so far this season, so early efforts inshore proved to be challenging - but that is all about to change.

Few fish are as widely spread and offer such overall appeal as snapper. Not only do these magnificent creatures look sensational, but they also pack plenty of punch in the sparring department and they are downright tasty too.

We are blessed to enjoy spells of light winds and crisp sunny skies throughout much of winter in these parts which enables us to get out in boats of all sizes and roam far and wide. Luckily for us, snapper move right inshore this time of year, bringing them within range of the smallest tinny, and even kayaks. At the same time, large schools amass over offshore reefs all the way to the continental shelf, so snapper will feature in catches for many crews in coming months.

The snapper’s inshore migration is triggered by their desire to gather and spawn, and they do so at a time when masses of baitfish move inshore as well. Mother Nature is indeed a clever lady. Being every bit a predator and occasional scavenger, snapper will actively hunt down schools of yakka, herring, pike and the like, whilst also taking advantage of other fodder such as whiting, squid, prawns and crabs during their travels.

Focussing your efforts around recognised key bite periods for snapper, that fall around the new and full moons, tide changes and dawn and dusk periods will increase your chances dramatically. Right timing is just one part of the puzzle though, and being able to assess an area’s potential by what you see on your sounder is the next.

Gatherings of baitfish are an obvious indicator of potential. Even more-so is the distinct “arches” or images on high-tech scanners that are unmistakably your target species. Your skill as a skipper and fisho then comes to the fore as you position your vessel to get your bait or lure to the snapper you’ve just found.

Being such a nomadic species, so often inclined to wander great distances during a tide or overnight, snapper can turn up in areas right at sunset that were otherwise devoid of fish all day. Similarly, they can seemingly disappear just after dawn. Quite often, the snapper have simply moved away from the reef itself and spend much of the day wandering the paddock some distance away.

Local bait fishos have developed techniques over the years that continue to catch snapper. In the bay, float-lining is certainly the way to go. To tempt the wiser old snapper, you must deploy perfectly rigged baits on long leaders that can “swim” in the current without spinning - rigged behind just the right sized sinker to keep the bait suspended above the bottom as line is released periodically in the tide. Large whole baits are the go, and live baits are even better at times.

Overhead reels allow line to be free-spooled to finicky snapper and in the right hands are a great tool for the job. Many fishos favour spinning reels though, and luckily for them, Daiwa offers the perfect reel. The Daiwa Free Swimmer BR is their best ever contribution in this department and is challenging the established alternatives from other stables. 

These “Bite’N’Run” reels offer many of the superb features now standard in quality Daiwa reels, and boast rubber gasket seals against the saltwater environment and ATD drags which enable smooth start-up and heavy compression under load (up to 10kg in fact). They are quite light for such a reel, yet strong and sturdy.

We’ve been matching the Free Swimmer BR reels with Daiwa’s Saltist Hyper rods and spooling them with Daiwa J-Braid and have found them to be the perfect combination. The rods are powerful, yet quite light for their size and combine optimum length for casting distance and hook-setting power, with low down grunt and the perfect taper for stopping that big snapper or other fish around nasty terrain.

Nowadays, more fishos target snapper on soft plastics and other lures than bait in these parts, and there are many reasons why. Firstly, the ability to prospect over possible terrain with a softy, a vibe or jig, and see if the snapper are home or active is far more efficient than bait. 

Secondly, the class of fish attracted to a well-presented lure is typically better, and the need to contend with juveniles and pickers otherwise encountered whilst bait fishing is minimised. Not needing to gather bait during a trip is a bonus, as is the lack of mess and necessity for live bait tanks.

We stock a vast array of the best soft plastics and other lures we can muster for our snapper fishery, and continually stock the best in rods, reels, lines and terminals for the task as well. You can combine any number of rods and reels to come up with a suitable snapper combo, whilst taking into account jig head or lure weight relative to the rod’s casting capacity. 


So, drop in and suss out the latest in snapper tackle on offer these days. Challenge yourself to score new PBs this season or ask the lads for advice on catching these magnificent fish on artificials if you aren’t already doing so. Good luck, and may your next snapper be your best snapper.

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