BIG SNAPPER by Ross Hunter
How I love Spring days with a hint of summer around the corner. Coolish and fresh mornings with a light hint of a west wind sliding past, which fades away to a breathless clear day as the sun sneaks over a calm ocean.
These are the days that we look forward to, when they do come we jump on one of the boats and head southwards to the snapper grounds off Stanwell Park. Generally a bunch of mates and crew a sort of Skipper deckie and friends day that has become an annual event looked forward to by all of us.
We generally leave Botany Bay around 2pm and stay the night at Jibbon Beach a beautifully protected calm bay in Pt Hacking 5 mile south of Botany Bay.
Just on dark we will spark up the barbeque and a feed of fresh fish or a steak washed down with a bottle of wine amongst the crew.
Inver ably the guitars come out and a few songs are enjoyed as well as a fishy tale or two as darkness sets in.
A reasonably early night is had so we are fresh for the 4 am wake up call and the 15 nautical mile run to our favourite snapper spot.
Upon arriving at "The Hump" off Stanwell…… my mark on the GPS is checked, I always sound the area for 10 minutes or so.
It is most important to fish broken ground and to be away from the high reef areas.
What we look for is a combination of gravel and sparse reef bottom formation, this is where the feeding snapper will be.
If you fish the shallow reef you will catch sweep , nannygia and rubbish fish …….We don't want them we have come here to catch only snapper if that means waiting a few hours for them to turn up then so be it.
We also know from experience that when the first fish is encountered generally more will follow.
The reason we sound the area is to check on the fish population as well as finding a good bit of reef to fish on and more-so to get a good purchase on with the reef pick.
Having done that an air of excitement is evident among the crew ….a beautiful Spring morning, a dead flat sea, a little bit of music wafting from the CD and the apprehension of big snapper.
We start a berley trail of cubed pilchards and bread, this is fed back in the form of a slick, the heavier pieces slowly sink to the bottom around 35 fathoms below.
The berley drifts slowly away in half a knot of southbound current, the scene is set as we select our favourite rods and then the fun starts
I use a Shimano Corsair loaded with 3 kg line I check the drag setting and tie a 2/0 mustard hook with a small ball sinker sitting on top, no trace just straight through line to the hook.
This type of fishing is called "Floater Fishing " and if you are serious about big snapper it is the best method
We are using fresh striped tuna slabs as bait ..We cut the fillets into almost triangular bait size cubes . The top of the triangular bait a hook is fed through the skin only twice thus the heavier end of the bait will drift down in the current and will not spin, this intern presents well to awaiting snapper.
The bait is then free spooled down the slick ensuring that the bait sinks at the same rate as the berley pieces.
We drift the baits back maybe 100 metres at that point we wind in, maybe replacing the bait with a fresh one and repeat the same again.
It is important that a fresh bait is maintained a big snapper will suss out a bait with fresh scent and blood rather than a bait, which is washed out and bleached by a few hours in the water.Half way through my next drift a thunderbolt run is experienced and by the feel of the fish's power it is an XOS snapper. I lift the rod and ease the drag on as line pours from the reel it is a good fish…..Snapper, even the big fish are pretty clean fighters, they rarely reef you so it is a matter now of keeping calm and taking your time, working the in a lift and wind down sequence. One of the best sights you will ever see in your fishing career is a big snapper coming out of the depths.This one did just that and as Glenn slid the net under the fish we knew that snapper was on the menu to night for dinner…………They are my favourite on a pristine Spring day.
How good Snapper in spring - a spring day & a good catch of reds
Glenn Hunter with a honker caught on a floater
2 Superb Spring reds on Broadbill