Species Guide


Pinkies | Tāmure


Snapper can grow to over 1 meter in length and records show they can grow to weigh over 17kg. Most anglers dream of landing a 20lb snapper and becoming a member of the exclusive 20lb club, but it’s not as common as we’d all like it to be!

The average length for snapper is 3-50cm (fork length) and this equates to a weight of between 0.6 - 2.5kg (1 - 5lb).

A general guide is provided below on snapper length and weight.  This is only a guide, and there are many different variables, such as the condition of the fish that can impact its weight in relation to its length. But this will give you a good indication of your fish's weight if you decide to release it. To catch a 10lb snapper, it needs to be about 62cm long, whereas to get into that 20lb club, the fish needs to be at least 80cm.


Snapper are copper-pink in colour on top, sometimes rusty red for fish living around the shallow reefs, fading to silver-white on their belly, with luminous silver/blue flecks or spots over the upper half of their body. They have strong jaws and teeth, with sharp canines at the front and round molars at the back and you certainly do not want to make the mistake of putting your finger in their mouth. In Australia, some, usually male, can develop a large hump on their head/nose area.

Their flesh is white once cooked and has a mild, sweet flavour and is highly versatile in cooking. It's great raw as sashimi, but also cooked in almost every way possible.


They're a long-lived species, known to live up to 60 years of age. They become sexually mature at 3-4 years of age when they’re about 25-30 cm long, which is what the minimum legal size for taking a snapper relates to. The size limit is based on the fact that a snapper will have at least spawned once before it has the potential to be taken. Snapper usually spawn from October through to January/February, ideally when the water temperature is around 18 ⁰C.

In New Zealand, fish tend to spawn in the North Island before they do in the South Island (due to the water getting warmer in the north before the south). They're also known to return to the same breeding grounds each year.

Fishing in spring is often very good, as the snapper move into the shallower waters to spawn, and they'll be feeding up hard trying to put on condition to get them through the spawning period.  Spawning takes up a lot of their reserves, and a lot of the fish will stop eating during this time. That is why the fish will be very skinny and often called ‘slabby’ after the spawning season. However, once spawning is over, the fish go back to feeding hard again to put that condition back on.  

Snapper can spawn over several weeks and stages releasing many batches of eggs. It's believed that this is done to help ensure survival of their species and allows for different environmental conditions when the eggs hatch.  The eggs will generally hatch in a couple of days, and it's at this stage when mortality of the juveniles is very high and is another reason why snapper release so many eggs. As the juvenile fish grow and get bigger, the mortality rate decreases.  

Water temperature plays an important role in the survival of snapper eggs and juveniles. Strong year classes in the snapper populations generally correlate back to warmer years, and vice versa.

All snapper are born female, and when they reach sexual maturity at around 3-4years old, about half of the female snapper will change sex to males.  

To identify whether you have caught a male or a female, it's relatively easy to do once you know how. Males will have a darker brown/grey colour under their jaw and around the gill section, whereas the females are generally very white in colour underneath their jaw.  


Snapper are a carnivorous species and they'll eat most things in the sea including sea worms, mussels, crustaceans, kina, and smaller fish. They're known for their adaptability. If one food source becomes scarce, they can alter their feeding habits quickly to target different prey.

If you're bait fishing for snapper, matching your bait to one of their food sources will always improve your chances of a bite.


The IGFA all tackle and junior world records are held by New Zealand anglers, including 2 junior anglers who caught their record breaking fish 2 days apart in 2021.


Angler – Mark Hemingway
– 37lb 14oz (17.2kg)
Catch date
– 2 November 1992
– Motiti Island, New Zealand

Mark also holds the current New Zealand All Tackle record, as listed on the New Zealand Sport Fishing Council website.

According to the GFAA website, the Australian all tackle record belongs to Louis Rummer, who landed a 35.71lb (16.20kg) snapper on 27 October 2001. But if you refer to the Queensland Amateur Fishing Clubs Association website, the record belongs to W Meier, who landed a 40.57lb(18.4kg) snapper in Mooloolaba on 20 November 1995.


Angler - Alex Nasmith
- 27lb 3oz (12.34kg)
Catch date
- 25 October 2021
– Muriwai Beach, New Zealand


Angler – Kupu-John Amoamo
– 34lb 6oz (15.60kg)
Catch date
– 23 October 2021
– Te Kaha, New Zealand



In New Zealand, the snapper fishery is the largest recreational fishery as snapper is the primary target for many anglers. Because of this, snapper is managed under New Zealand's Quota Management System (QMS), which controls the size and amount of fish that can be taken from each area to ensure the fisheries remain sustainable.

The limits and rules for targeting snapper are different depending on where (and when) you’re fishing. If you’re fishing in a new location, always make sure you know the rules and limits before you head out on the water.

Minimum legal size and daily bag limits vary throughout the different management areas in New Zealand. Ensure you know the regulations for the specific area you're fishing in before heading out on the water

Bag limit - 7 to 15 fish per active angler per day
Size limit
- 27 - 30cm
Click here for more information


In Australia, each state sets their own regulations based on the current health of the local fishery. Some states have closed seasons, while others restrict the methods of fishing. Check out the latest information for your state to ensure you are up to date on the bag and size limits.

Bag limit
- 10 fish per angler per day
Size limit
- 30cm
Click here for more information

Bag limit
- 10 fish per angler per day (max of 3 40cm or over)
Size limit
- 28cm
Click here for more information

In 2023 new rules were introduced regarding snapper fishing in WA, including specific closed seasons and changes to the styles of fishing allowed. Click here for more information.

Bag limit
- 4 fish per angler per day, or 8 per boat with no more than 2 fish over 70cm
Size limit
- 35cm
Click here for more information

Bag limit
- 2 fish per angler per day, boat limit of 6 per day (3 or more anglers)
Size limit
- 38cm
Click here for more information

Bag limit
- 5 fish per angler per day, and a possession limit of 10 fish
Size limit
- 30cm
Click here for more information


In New Zealand, snapper are available all year round depending on where you fish, but you’re more likely to encounter them in shallower water between October and April. During winter, you’ll sometimes find big “moochers” hanging around in the shallows looking for an easy feed, but on most occassions they'll normally be caught in deeper water over winter.

Similarly in Australia, snapper come on the bite around October through to April. But like New Zealand, you’ll still be able to find them all year round.

In Victoria, the prime fishing season is more concentrated between October and December, when the big breeders come into the southern bays before heading slightly north along the coast.

In NSW, snapper season can extend from September through to May, but peak times tend to be September - November, and from March - May. But there is never a bad time to go fishing for snapper, as snapper can congregate around inshore reefs during winter, before their spawning run when the weather (and the water) warm up.

There are currently bans and tight restrictions on when (and where) you can fish for snapper in some Australian states. This is particularly relevant for WA and South Australia. For all the latest information, see the list above, or visit your local state Government’s website.

Snapper generally feed at night as they rely on the low light conditions for camouflage. So early mornings and evenings are often the best times to target them.

During summer (peak fishing season), this can mean some very early mornings and late nights, but the benefits far outweigh the loss of sleep. Because snapper are actively hunting for food at these times, they’re more likely to be interested in whatever bait or lure you’re offering. But stealth mode is important, so consider your line and leader choices to make your bait or lure look as natural as possible.



Snapper are most commonly found around the North Island and upper South Island. The most concentrated populations are in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf, the Bay of Islands, Doubtless Bay, the Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay, Taranaki Bight, Tasman, and Golden Bays. All these areas are known snapper breeding locations.


Snapper are most common throughout the southern waters from Coral Bay in Western Australia to the Capricorn Group in Queensland. The bays along the Victorian coastline sees good numbers showing up during peak season.


Snapper can be found in a wide variety of habitats including reefs, sandy areas near weed lines, mud bottoms, and shallow inshore rocky areas where they can hide in the kelp.

They inhabit coastal regions and tend to live inshore during the spring and summer, when they spawn multiple times; before moving offshore during winter.

Because of the range of depths and environments where you can find snapper (i.e. very shallow water out to 200 m), they are a key target for both landbased and boat anglers.


There are a number of ways to target snapper. Some methods can depend on your fishing location and environment, the weather and if the fish are actively feeding. So, it’s important to have a few methods in your arsenal, and be prepared to adapt on the day if a specific method isn’t working.


Snapper are scavengers and opportunistic feeders, who will eat just about anything you offer. But offering them the right hook with the right bait will increase your chance of a hook-up.

Circle hooks and J hooks offer different styles for bait fishing, so understanding what hook to use can make all the difference when you’re on the water.

Circle (or recurve) hooks increase the odds of hooking your fish in the corner of the mouth, which is especially useful if you're releasing fish. The key to fishing these types of hooks is to not strike the rod when you get a bite. The fish will largely hook themselves and all that's needed is a slow lift of the rod in most cases. Circle or recurve hooks are best used in deeper water where its harder to feel the bite.

A J or suicide style hook will increase your hook-up rate, however, will also increase your chances of gut hooking which isn’t ideal if you plan to release your catch. With these style of hooks, you can strike the rod to hook the fish, and this will often provide a solid hook up. J or suicide hooks are ideal for shallow water when you can feel the bites, and know when to strike.

Fresh bait is always best, but you can’t always have fresh bait at the start of the day, or there may not be any around. So frozen bait from your local tackle store will still work as well. Snapper will eat most bait, but they’ve shown a preference for pilchards, skipjack tuna, squid, piper and kahawai.



Paternoster style rigs (also known as ledger or dropper rigs) are a common and highly effective method of targeting snapper. They include 2 hooks branching off the mainline (or backbone) with a sinker tied to the bottom of the rig, to keep the bait near the bottom where snapper usually feed, and a swivel on the top for connecting to your mainline.

You can buy pre-tied rigs, like our Snatchers® and Snapper Snacks®, which can help you maximise your time on the water as you don’t have to worry about tying your own rigs. If you choose to tie your own rigs, tie several rigs prior to a day on the water, to ensure you can spend your time fishing and not tying knots.

Our Snatcher®(or flasher) rigs have shiny “flash” material attached to the shank of the hooks. We rig our Snatchers® with our own Tough Trace leader and incorporate our own Japanese made hooks, so they are built strong enough to handle to head shakes of a big fish.

Our Snapper Snacks® have a lure-like skirt to attract fish, and also incorporate our own materials, and are proven to catch snapper and a wide range of other species.

Both will work well in all depths of water, and can be fished with or without bait. When using bait, try to make the bait look as natural as possible when it's hanging from the hook, and make sure the point and barb are exposed (but not buried) to maximise the potential for a solid hook up.


Jigging is a popular method of catching snapper and can be successful with almost style of jig.

There are many different styles and shapes of jig available these days. They vary from streamlined narrow metal jigs to short, fat spoon-type shapes that fall into the slow jig category.

Our Flipper and Flutter jigs are very effective on snapper, who can’t resist the slow pitched movements that resemble wounded baitfish. Some anglers will have a favourite colour jig that works for them, but sometimes it helps to have a few different colours in your arsenal so you can swap out if that particular jig isn't working.

Metal jigs come in different weights, from 20-40g micro jigs, right up to 200g jigs which are ideal for deeper water. Consider your environment, taking into account water depth and the strength of the ide or current. It can be a good idea to test a few jigs to see what's attracting the local snapper population on the day. Using the lightest jig possible to get to the bottom will often result in the best success, as this enables a better action to be achieved from the jig.

Another popular style of jig is often referred to as a sliding jig. These jigs are made up of two parts – a weighted sliding head, and a skirt or fly, with two small, sharp hooks. Our Sunakku® slow jigs are ideal for targeting snapper, and they’re designed to be effective when you’re drifting, and in deeper water (20 to 100m). But they can also be fished from an anchored boat, utilising the current to create the movement needed to entice your target. The combination of the heads, skirts and a small piece of bait can be an absolute winner. As Scott from Fishing & Adventure always says “if in doubt, chuck a Sunakku® out”!

A simple and versatile way to catch snapper year-round in shallower water (less than 20m) is casting and retrieving soft-baits. Standard practice involves casting ahead of your drift direction, letting the soft-bait sink to the bottom (while staying alert for bites), then slowly retrieving it with twitching rod lifts and drops.


Straylining (or floatlining as its known in Australia) is an extremely effective way of presenting a bait to fish in the most natural way possible with minimal weight. In its simplest form, the technique involves floating a bait out behind the boat and letting it waft down with the current into the strike zone.

This fishing method requires both a light line and leader to make the bait look as natural as possible, and the lightest weight possible (if needed) to get the bait to the desired depth. Burley is a non-negotiable so get the burley trail running as soon as you hit your fishing spot, to let the snapper know lunch is coming.

Straylining is commonly used near structure as this is where the burley draws the fish from. This makes it an ideal technique for use in shallower water (5-25 meters) but can be used up to 50 meters.

Traditionally the method employed the use of monofilament lines however, today’s braided lines (like our Hyperglide® 13x) enable anglers to present natural looking baits, even when current is an issue, as the braid can cut through the water with minimal resistance.

Our pre-tied strayline rigs are specifically designed to target big fish in shallow water. You just tie the rig to your mainline and get it flowing in the current. We tie our rigs with 60lb Tough Trace, which delivers a high level of abrasion resistance, which is needed when fishing near structure as snapper will head straight for cover when they realise they’re hooked. We also incorporate our C Point® suicide hooks or self-hooking recurve KL red hooks. So, you have the choice to strike, or not to strike.


- Burley is a great way to bring the snapper in and get them feeding. Make sure you cast your baits in the same direction the burley is going

- If you’re bottom fishing, get the burley pot down near the bottom as well, as this will put your bait in the firing line

- If the water you’re fishing in is clear, or the bite is slow, you can try using a lighter weight leader. Changing your leader can also work if you’re using a heavy leader and it’s scaring the fish – stealth mode is important when targeting snapper. Otherwise cast your rig further behind the boat, away from any boat noise which can sometimes scare the fish

- Match the size of your bait to the size of your hook. If you’re targeting big fish, use bigger baits and bigger hooks

- Snapper have a really tough, bony jaw, so super sharp hooks will be needed to penetrate the jaw and hold on tight. Consider using a new hook for each fishing trip, or choose a hook like our DX Point® hooks which have 4 micro cutting edges, meaning they have a finer point and can penetrate tough jaws more easily

- If you’re bottom fishing with bait, or rigs, you can get some movement into your presentation by using the current. Don’t let your bait hit or stay on the bottom, or it’ll be eaten by bottom dwellers like gurnard and crabs before the snapper even consider it

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