snapper fishing SA - South Australia

Snapper Fishing Made Easy

By Wayne Smith

    If you are looking for information on how to catch snapper, you are so lucky to be searching right here, right now!

    For decades I also searched, albeit without the benefit of the internet. Plenty of information existed on species distribution, habitat, bait, rigs and other information but none of which was meaningful on where, or how, I should fish to get results.

    It seemed to be the preserve of large boats only, way offshore on wrecks and reefs. I had to work it all out myself.

    Misinformation abounds which discourages anglers because it paints a picture of being all too daunting a task to be successful.

    By way of example I quote a government website; PIRSA (Primary Industry and Resources South Aust.) internet article on snapper fishing by ‘One of the State’s most accomplished young anglers.’ (ref:

    ‘(Name) is a firm believer that you are only as good as the people who teach you how to fish.’

    Unfortunately this belief presupposes there is nothing new to be learned – that those who teach you know it all. That is simply not true.

    What it does highlight is why there has been so little progress on how to catch snapper for many years. It has perpetuated the incorrect assumptions made by anglers of past generations.

    It has resulted in discouraging impressions such as, ‘If the snapper are in a particular spot, they may only bite for one hour in twenty four, and then perhaps only on a particular bait, and at a particular stage of the tide.’

    What chance does any angler, novice or otherwise, think they have of getting it all right if they accepted that such narrow criteria really existed? The article was written with all good intent, and genuine belief of accuracy.

    Unfortunately for the impression it creates, but fortunately for anglers, that comment is incorrect on all counts. It is a legacy of the way most anglers, both past and present, tend to arrive at all sorts of conclusions other than looking at their own techniques when they can’t catch their quarry.

    The snapper is just a simple fish. It knows not from where it’s next meal is coming. It simply cannot afford to fast for twenty three hours a day or be fussy about it’s diet.

    Neither can it afford to see a potential meal, ignore it, and come back to it, possibly hours later, when it considers the stage of the tide is ‘Right’, to see if it is still there for it.

    Sorry, but no way known.

    The fact is there are numerous factors impacting our ability to catch the snapper.

    Having historically failed to even identify them, desired results have accordingly not been forthcoming. Excuses have been formulated, published and generally accepted without challenge. They have then been recycled to those they have taught.

    It is time the cycle is broken.

    Allow me to provide an idea of the type of mistake many anglers make:

    We all know snapper feed at night so many of us realize that is the time to fish for them. Also known is snapper’s irrefutable association with structure, so naturally that is where we go, right? Wrong!

    I am going to draw a parallel with another nocturnal feeder, the owl. It is out hunting at night and roosts in a loft, for example, during the day.

    If we needed to catch an owl, are we going to search the wide open spaces for it, or go to the loft? The loft, obviously.

    But is there any point going to the loft at night? Of course not. It isn’t there while out hunting.

    The same situation applies to the snapper. They roost around some structure during the day to avoid the press of the tide and avoid predation from sharks. Before dusk they leave their ‘Loft’ and head for a night’s browsing where they consider they have their best chance of picking up a meal.

    And while they are away, how many anglers are sitting ruefully at the loft assuming they are not biting? Right place, wrong time!

    More to the point, ‘Right time, wrong place.’

    Yes, an odd snapper can still be caught at the loft. Odd fish can be going passed from one feeding area to another.

    If other factors are suitable, anglers may also get fish if they are still there at first light when snapper are starting to arrive back at the ‘Loft.’

    However, the thinking angler will be sitting inshore where the snapper will be feeding in numbers because, depending on locations being fished, most of what they feed on, crabs, scallop beds, dead razor fish inhabitants, small squid and fish, are inshore.

    We don’t have to go way offshore when they come inshore to us under the cover of darkness.

    One problem for modern anglers is progress. They have this little unit called a GPS. It can give you a mark for a ‘Loft’ … somewhere to drop your anchor. It can pinpoint a spot but not an ‘Area,’ so we don’t know precisely where to go, do we?

    The reality is ‘It hardly matters.’ We just have to think outside the GPS square.

    One common thread I found in most snapper fishing articles is how most snapper are caught around the change of tides. In most cases the observation is correct but it is both the conclusion and subsequent action which are incorrect.

    The conclusion is that the snapper feed predominantly at that time and the subsequent action then is to focus your efforts at those times.

    The conclusion is wrong for two reasons:

    1) Anglers have assumed they are feeding predominantly at those times because most are hooked at those times. Wrong!

    Most are hooked then because the vast majority of anglers have never worked out how to counter the effects of the tides between the changes when the tides are running more strongly.

    2) Because anglers have learned to focus their efforts around the changes, they have to catch more fish at that time.

    In fact, for reasons I will not go into here, the change of tide, at night anyway, is the single precise point of minimum feeding activity by the snapper.

    The subsequent action of anglers concentrating their efforts around the tide changes is wrong because anglers are denying themselves the majority of productive fishing time and the opportunity to learn both how to counter the effects of the tides, and how to use them to your advantage. Do so, and they can be caught right through the tides.

    I do have to admit that the solution to that was somewhat complex, but it is simple to deal with once you have the right information.

    Another common theme is the necessity for using berley to catch snapper. Again, the concept is correct. However, given the usual methods of dispersion, berley is responsible for most snapper NOT being caught rather than the other way around, as intended – other than on the changes of tide.

    Since 2002 I have analyzed the whole routine of catching snapper. Those factors adversely affecting results have been identified. Solutions have been formulated, tested, improved upon, fine tuned and settled.

    The result has been great catches consistently.

    Pictured below are just 15 of my catches, each made with a buddy, which show just what can be achieved.

    All of these catches were made from my little 4.6m (15’) boat on flat sand within 3km of shore.

    Being night time, structure and location were not important.

    What was important was the technique of putting yourself in control of the situation to ensure your result by countering all those factors that would otherwise deny you.

    While all my results have been achieved in St. Vincent Gulf, here in South Australia, the same factors apply everywhere snapper exist.

    Please note: All fishing methods and catch quantities are practiced and taught within all legal regulations, size and bag limitations.

    Snapper Fishing Course

    Total cost, including items supplied, will be $500 per person

    For bookings and/or enquiries contact:
    Wayne SMITH - Tel. (08) 8251 1317 or Mobile 0400 058 880 or Wayne Smith snapper fishing coach Adelaide

    Coaching to be conducted mainly Tuesdays & Thursdays at 7.00pm in the North Eastern suburbs of Adelaide © 2009

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