Species Article: Snapper
Snapper is a saltwater fish popular with both recreational and commercial anglers fishing in the southern half of Australia. Not only does snapper taste delicious, it’s renowned as a good fighting fish and is targeted by anglers who look for a real challenge. Let’s look at some of the features of the snapper that make it such a prized catch.
Although many snapper that are caught weigh less than 3 kg, larger fish weighing up to 10 kg are there to be had, especially in South Australian waters. Schools of small snapper are found in shallow bays and on gravel beds near the mouths of clean rivers, or in deeper water over reefs. The preferred habitat of larger fish is depths of 10 to 25 metres in bays, and offshore in depths between 20 and 70 metres. The most productive times for anglers targeting snapper are on a rising tide in the morning, late afternoon and early evening. Weather conditions seem to make little difference to snappers’ readiness to take bait or lures, although some seasoned fishermen swear that the fish bite well in the half hour before a thunderstorm.
Snapper aren’t overly fussy about their food. They’re opportunistic grazing feeders and tend to scavenge for whatever is readily available to them without too much effort. Offshore they tend to favour live bait or soft plastic fishing lures such as berkley gulp Jerk shads, while inshore snapper seem to have a preference for a wide variety of dead bait.
Fishing rods specifically intended for anglers targeting snapper include the Shimano Rader Snapper Rod 762, available from the Fishing Tackle Shop online store. This is a light two piece rod, a little over 7 feet in length, and designed to be used with a spin fishing reel. When selecting a line, bear in mind the sensitivity to line diameter displayed by snapper, particularly smaller specimens.
The main challenge of snapper is actually hooking the fish: snapper tend to be easily spooked by any resistance on the fishing line when they first mouth bait. For the best chance of catching snapper, consider using a free spooling technique and aim to allow the fish a couple of seconds to swallow the bait and be caught by the hook before striking. For the same reason, it’s helpful to use sharp hooks when targeting snapper.
Fishing for snapper is great fun, and once you’ve hooked your fish it will put up a good hard fight. Capturing a good sized snapper will bring a smile to the face of even the most jaded of anglers.