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  1. G'day raiders, As many of you are aware one of my favourite forms of fishing is chasing snapper on soft plastics. This type of fishing is a very active way to target a species and can be very rewarding. The beauty of this angling is obviously acquiring the target of snapper but with very little by-catch and of course the absence of bait and associated mess that comes with it. Whilst this art of angling has taken me many years to become consistent with catching the said species, hopefully I can explain enough to anyone that is interested getting started. Setup: Many people have differing views on what rod and reel to use, but this is the set up that works for me. Rod: 7ft min 4-7kg Reel: 4000 sized standard or even 5000 in areas known for big snapper Braid and Leader: 20lb braid and 20lb flurocarbon leader or 30lb flurocarbon leader depending on terrain. Jighead: This will depend on the depths and areas you fish, the currents, the structure and terrain. But a quick breakdown for jig size, this is what I use: 1/4 5/0: 6-20 meters of water 3/8 5/0: 20-35 meters of water NOTES: These pairings of rod, reel and braid do not have to be the top of the range or the most expensive set up you can find to achieve results. In fact, I have caught 80cm models on the cheapest shimano combo you can get. The most important thing about your setup is the braid and leader you use. After all, this is what is connecting you to the fish. Without bias or preference I use either Ocea or Power Pro braid and Black Magic leader. Why??? because this works for me and after many different trials, I've found I don't lose as many fish. What soft plastic do I use? This is often a difficult one and many people have differing opinions because it is something they have caught fish on in the past or something they may have been recommended by a mate or a tackle store . It is also a critical component in reaching your target and can mean the difference in success and not so successful. The reason I don't say failure is because if your out there having a go, your not failing, your learning. From my experience, the color of soft plastics change with the seasons. During the winter months, the bait that is present determines the colors that I use. Once you start to see cuttlefish husks in the water in numbers it is time to start using whiter and lighter colors. During the summer months with the abundance of bait fish such as gars, yakka and slimies, I generally go for the more nature tones. As a rule, I always start out using a 7 inch soft plastic until the sun appears high in the sky and then drop this down to a 5 inch. Why?? As the saying goes, you can catch a big fish on a small hook but can't catch a small fish on a big hook. The same goes for soft plastics. The bigger fish are usually dominant in the early morning and late arvo's but remember your target is snapper and can be caught anytime of the day! Some of my favourite types of plastics, once again without bias, Z-man: coconut ice, pilchard, pearl Gulp: yakka, camo pearl, garlicker Knots and Drag settings: I use an improved Albright (12 turns up 6 down and 3 through the loop) and my leader length is the tip of the rod until the first guide closest to the reel. The reason for the knot, it’s easy to tie, I can do it well and I’ve never had an issue with losing fish to it. I can also recommend the PR or FG but they take some practise. Leader: I’ve been working on this length for some time now and have settled with this summation as it’s not too long or too short and gets results! The beauty of this length is that you can retrieve your lure until 6 inches of the knot, lift and cast again without it passing through the guides! And because your knot doesn’t pass through the guides your cast is longer!  As for drag settings, I have not measured this in kilos or poundage but a very firm tight drag is required for this method of fishing. This is because you need to turn the snappers head ASAP and control the fight. Once you have achieved this, DO NOT touch your drag. You have already set the tone for the battle so play it out. What area do I look to target snapper? This is a very simple response, structure, structure and structure. Snapper are prolific on the east coast of NSW and you are able to fish for them year round. Whilst they are more commonly a winter target, some of my better catches have been around the spring and autumn months. The structure that I look for is a good reef system that is surrounded by a weedy or sandy bottom. When this reef/structure has a predominant drop in it's face or is the only pinnacle structure in the area, then you'll find snapper. The presence of bait is also another major factor. You hear the saying "find the bait, find the fish". This is the absolute truth when fishing for snapper. Snapper are an opportunistic species and will often prey on the reminence of schools of bait being hammered by other pelagics. They can also be a very dominant species. So, your sft plastic wafting down the water column is a perfect meal once it's travelled through either the bait school above or the surrounding school they are following. Once again, refer to the depths that you are targeting this species. When you have your intended area: Drifting is the only real way to target snapper whilst using soft plastics. The ideal way to approach your intended target is to pull up 200m or so from it and record your drift. Your drift is the most important part of achieving your goal of catching a snapper on sps. Once you have indentified your drift and intened area. Start your drift approximately 50m before it and begin to cast ahead of the boat as far as you can. Now, this is another very key component to this type of fishing. Long casts and allow the soft plastic to WAFT down the water column. By this I mean you don't need to impart very little action into the lure. All you need to do is maintain contact with the jig by slowly winding in the slack line so you don't have a spaghetti affect on the line. This is so you can feel any touch that you might have. Once you feel that you have reached the bottom of the ocean, lift the rod and perform big long loops back towards the boat. This is because snapper inhibit all parts of the water column and will nearly always take the sp on the drop. Don't be surprised if you get a hit in the first 3m as that's where the big ones are generally stalking. Once you have cast and played out your sp and its nearing the boat, wind up fast and repeated the process. why??? This is because I have had many of by-catch including kings, bonito, sampsonfish etc following the lure and all they need is some action. Not only that, if you cast again quicker, your back in the game. The second part to drifting which is paramount...….NEVER DRIVE OVER YOUR DRIFT!!! Snapper spook very easy and once you have driven over the area, you will very rarely catch something on that same drift. Instead, complete your drift, take a big circle around the area you are working and approach your next intended drift 20-30m away from your last one. This will allow you to work a small or productive area for some time. The other thing to mention is when you do get a bite! As soon as you feel a take on your line, strike for the fish and strike hard. Sometimes fishing with soft plastics you may have to try and set the hook hard up to 3 times! Often the fish may pick up the lure and swim towards you! At this stage, you need to wind and strike hard. They have solid mouths and take a fair bit to set the hook. Although, the bigger fish will generally hook themselves and take you for a ride! Just always maintain a bend in the rod and take your time. There is no rush to success! Overview: Choose the right setup, indentify your target area, big long casts, allow the sp to waft, work it back to the boat! Repeat the process!!! And as my motto goes "JUST KEEP CASTING" Now that is the key to snapper fishing with soft plastics. Cheers scratchie!!!
  2. Went out early today with @antonywardle in his boat. We launched at 6am to beat the holiday crowds with a plan to head outside to the flathead grounds and drift for bluespotted flatties. On the way out as we passed Box Head we saw a few fish boiling up the water so we decided to troll a couple of lures until we were past the head. We didn't get so much as a nudge and to be honest neither of us have a clue what we are doing when it comes to trolled lures so after a short pass of the heads we wound in and headed on the way. Next stop was a small reef called The Bottles that I had marked on a previous trip that is more or less on the way to the flathead grounds. We did a couple of drifts over that and picked up some yakkas, a slimey mackrel and a couple of small flatties once we crossed the reef. We kept the yakkas and slimey for some fresh cut baits and headed on to the flathead grounds. We started drifting in about 45-46m of water and were quickly rewarded with bites. We caught a heap of flatties pretty much one after the other - but unfortunately all well short of legal. They ranged in size from large mud skipper to about 30cm. Honestly we stopped counting the fish. We pulled one up on almost every drop and once I came up with a double, but all small. We made the call to move out a bit deeper. Just as I reached for my second rod to wind it in it was hit by what felt like a much better fish. Unfortunately about half way up it busted off the hook from the bottom dropper on my paternoster rig. We motored out a bit deeper - around the 52m mark. We started a long drift and for a while there was nothing. Then there were a few smaller flatties. Then I brought up a legal fish - finally we were on the board. Not long after @antonywardle went one better with a couple of really good flatties measuring about 45 and 50cm respectively. We motored up about halfway up our long drift because all the action was in the second half and tried again. We picked up a couple more legal flatties and let one go that was legal, but only just and needed to fatten up a bit more in my opinion. Along the way we also pulled in a heap more small flatties including one that came up with one of the legal flatties and another double header as well. I also pulled in what felt like a huge fish, but turned out to be a 27cm trev foul hooked and coming up sideways (went back). I was fairly surprised as well when I pulled in a 25cm whiting from about 48m of water a couple of kms offshore. Didn't think they would be that far outside and actively feeding. I released that as well, but he did not look too healthy. I suspect they don't handle barotrauma well. I've got a release weight rigged on a handline in my boat, but we weren't in my boat. I could of sworn I caught a tailor as well at about 31 cms which I kept to use as cut bait on a future trip, but no idea where that went as we could not find it when it came time to divide the catch. There was a big yakka that neither of us remembered catching - but I distinctly remember a tailor with its rows of sharp teeth... (did you find that later ant?) At the top of the tide the bite dropped off and we were getting pretty hot and had a very good haul so decided to head back in. All up we had 7 legal flathead and some leftover yakkas for future bait. Because we both stopped counting the small fish we were throwing back I can't be sure, but I reckon we must have landed and released about 30 small fish between us. We also had another 3 or 4 where it felt like a better fish but it got off half way up, plus one around 40cms fish that I lost at the boat when I snagged the end of my rod on my lifejacket as I turned to grab the net off Antony. Still - we had a ball and I took home the 4 smaller fish (one of which Antony caught and kindly gave me) and Anthony took home 3 really nice flatties. All up a great morning out on the water with a fellow raider. Fish tacos were had tonight so my ever patient wife and kids were happy too. Thanks for the company Antony - till next time!
  3. It has seemed lately that the only times I've had available to go for a fish it has been blowing a gale. It's been ages since I could line up free time with good conditions. Yesterday @antonywardle pinged me saying that today looked like it would be good to go outside. At the time I have to admit I was a little doubtful because it was pretty windy on Saturday as well, but sure enough the forecast suggested it would drop for Sunday morning. We met at Blackwall boat ramp at 5:30am and headed outside to an area that Antony said we could drift for flatties. I had not tried drifting offshore for flathead so was keen to give it a go. We got our first baits in the water and it was not too long before I was on. Right species - wrong size. This was a start of a pattern of the morning - we never needed to measure the fish we caught. They were either too small by far or well over legal size. After returning my mudskipper impersonator to the ocean I fished on while Ant re-rigged one of his rods. Not long after I got a second flattie even smaller than the first. It went quiet for a while and out baits were getting picked apart so we thought we had leatherjackets in the area and decided to move on. Or not - I somehow flooded the engine and just after I gave up trying to start it Anthony hooked into a better class of fish. Shortly after I netted a nice flathead for him. Unfortunately the hook had gone into a gill so it was a fairly messy end and into the icebox. I went to try the motor again but gave up when my rod buckled. I started winding and there was definitely more weight on the line this time. I thought I had a better flathead, but I was wrong. I pulled in a common octopus. Amazing little creatures - and good bait too, so he went into the icebox as well. This time we got the motor started and motor out a little further and started another drift. I pulled in another couple of mudskipper sized flathead and Anthony started catching some too to make me feel better. Anthony had gotten his better flathead on smaller hooks, so when we moved I re-rigged one of my rods with smaller suicide hooks as well. Then finally I hooked into a better fish. A short fight later Anthony deftly netted nice flattie in the mid to high 40 cm range. Sure enough on the rod with the smaller hooks. We were getting plenty of bites on pilchard and I put an occi tenticle onto one of the hooks so that if the bottom hook was baited there would still be something on the other hook. And it paid off. I hooked into another fish that was taking a bit of line off my relatively light gear. I eventually got it to the surface and thought I had my biggest flathead ever. Until we got it in the net. It was a good fish, but nowhere near as big as it had looked. Measured at 56cm - but with really solid shoulders. Nice fish. We thought we would do something different tried a drop by Lion Island. Had a couple of bites and Ant pulled a smallish red rock cod that he sent back. Then all the rods snagged at the same time and we lost a bit of tackle. We were drifting towards a few other boats so decided to try a drift in Ettalong channel on the way in. Unfortunately the wind was going to push us onto the sandbank in Ettalong so we called it a day and went in. Good company and a few fish boated for a feed on a gorgeous morning on the water. Can't complain.
  4. dav

    Moruya River

    Hi guys/gals, Heading to Moruya for a 2 week hoilday starting on Monday . We will be fishing from a boat on the river mainly for flathead & bream, also hopefully to wade the flats for whiting. Just wondering if anybody knows of any top spots on the river that are 'hot spots' for flathead & bream. I'll say we will be mostly drifting from the bridge down to the mouth. We are also likely going to head to Tuross & Clyde river for some drifting, we have never fished at Tuross but have fished the Clyde river many times. Cheers.
  5. G'Day All, Those of you who are members of Ausfish may have seen my thread over the last 2 years on 'Building a 23' catamaran.' Well the boat is built and I'm looking to get started fishing. I have been a long term sailor and over the years I have regularly sailed up to QLD in the winters from Sydney. The thing I enjoy most about cruising is fishing. The rule was, 'if I move, I troll' and I always tried to leave enough daylight after anchoring to have a drift around the bay to pick up supper. I've had plenty of luck trolling my red and white Mackerel Maulers. However, at age 67, the single handed deliveries from Sydney to SE QLD are getting a bit much, therefore I built the powerboat which I plan to fish off of around Sydney (continental shelf, coastal and harbour) and can deliver by road to Queensland and live/fish on it while I'm up there. For some reason, getting started fishing around Sydney is seeming a bit daunting. I am just learning to drive the boat and I've still got to get it set up with rod holders, kill tanks, etc. And there's a lot of water in the Harbour and lots more between the Hawkesbury and Browns Mountain. I've never used burley, live bait or a fish finder. In short, I am hoping that going out with some experienced anglers might help me climb up the learning curve. So, it you are interested in helping our an oldy but a newby please reply or PM me with your situation/details. Here are my details. Your name: Stevemid Your Location: Manly Fishing technique: Trolling, live lining, bottom bouncing Availability: 7 days Preferred location: Harbour and offshore Provide your own gear? Yes Provide your own boat? Yes