Catching big winter inshore Snapper on the Perth Metro coast
Experienced Snapper chaser, Jack Rush, shares his tips and techniques on how to improve your winter shallow water Snapper fishing. Jack’s fishing is focused around the 3-mile reef (off Perth, WA), in zones that are easily accessible by boats of any size.
My good mate Scott and I have spent countless hours together on the water over the years, perfecting our passion for targeting big Snapper in shallow water up and down the Perth coast.
Through trial and error our strike rate has dramatically improved in recent years and here are a few key factors that I believe have upped our game.
Getting the timing right
Big fish feel a lot safer being able to camouflage during low light periods, so heading out at first or last light is essential. If you can, work this into a small weather window between rough winter weather, as Snapper feel a lot safer when the shallow water is stirred up and are more likely to venture out onto the sand and into your burley trail to find your bait.
So basically, the plan is to be on anchor with a heavy burley trail pumping out the back of the boat either an hour before sunrise or an hour before sunset, with the focus of achieving the bite as the light changes.
Where and how to target the big boys
Ideally you want to be fishing near a bit of structure.
Whether that’s a small isolated bombie or a larger chunk of reef with a decent drop off on to the sand, the fishing technique remains the same.
Position the boat on the edge of the structure/sand so your bait is being cast out onto the sand rather than onto the reef where all the little bait thief’s will be taking shelter.
Big shallow water Snapper are smart and spook easily, so make sure the burley is flowing and then give your bait a solid cast to the back of the burley trail. I find the smaller fish will hang in close to the boat, whereas the big fish will lurk out the back.
Make sure you keep boat noise down – motor off, music off and try not to bang about on the boat too much. The last thing you want to do is scare your chance away.
The gear set up
A tough light tackle set up will considerably improve your hook up rate in this shallow water system and there’s nothing more exciting than doing battle with a big fish in the shallows on light tackle.
After years of perfecting my inshore set up, I feel I’m now using the ultimate inshore Snapper set up. I fish with a Shimano Stradic 5000 reel on a PE3 light jigging style rod. My tackle set up includes Black Magic 30lb Inferno® Braid 8x tied to 30lb Fluorocarbon leader, which is rigged with a pair of snelled 6/0 C POINT® hooks.
Strong and stealthy Fluorocarbon leader is near invisible in water and the micro cutting edges on the C POINT® hooks can handle a big Snapper’s tough jaws.
I’ve found that bait choice isn’t super important with Snapper as they’re scavenges and during the times of day mentioned above, they’ll be racing around feeding on anything on offer.
You want your bait falling as naturally as possible out the back of your burley trail so I usually fish this set up unweighted or with a tiny ball sinker just above my hooks if there is a strong current.
If your bait is falling down through the strike zone without being hit, you’re best to wind it in and give it another cast, rather than letting your bait sit on the bottom where it could become hidden or eaten by the dreaded stingray.
Practice makes perfect
Spend the time at home when you can’t be on the water searching for good looking ground out of your local with Navionics or other similar apps, then hit your local as often as you can during the light change and that big Snapper will meet you there, hopefully sooner rather than later.
Using sites such as www.fishbrain.com is a great way to plot out your next fishing outing
Catch and release
We have a world class Snapper fishery right on our doorstep here in Perth, and we all need to do our part to keep it this way.
So, when you catch that dream Snapper, consider releasing it and taking a smaller model home for dinner. The big ones are our breeders, so take care of it when you’re handling it – support the fish’s body weight with two hands, keeping your fingers out from under the gill plate. Swim the fish until it gives you a good strong kick indicating its ready to swim free giving the fish the best chance of being released in healthy condition. Keeping a hook removal tool on board is also helpful.
If we all do the right thing there will be plenty more out there for years to come.
Happy Snapper hunting. Jack