Snapper is one of the most popular fish species caught by recreational anglers in Australia and NZ.
A little bit of background information of Snapper; they spawn in inshore waters and live in rocky areas and reefs up to 200m in depth. Snapper is a schooling fish and will move between reefs, and are known to enter estuaries and harbours. Snapper mature at approximately 24.8 cm and at the age of 2 and a half.
When fishing for Snapper we tend to find the smaller sized fish on the shallow bays and gravel patches on the in-close reefs. Bigger Snapper tend to school up around the reefs in 25m out to 80m of water.
When going out to target this species we tend to concentrate on an early morning late afternoon bite and tend to find an incoming tide being ideal to get the bite.
Now getting into the nitty-gritty side of catching these fish and the best ways to get the bite:
The gear I would generally use to chase Snapper all comes down to what technique I am using at the time. Some examples would be if I was using Soft Plastics I would use a 7 foot 3 fast tapered rod around 3-6kg to 6-8kg matched up with a 2500-3000 size reel with 15 to 20lb braid.
When bait fishing for Snapper I tend to use a similar rod to what I would use for soft plastics but would preferably use a Baitrunner style reel around the 4000-6000 size.
Getting into Techniques and what I look for when chasing Snapper. Let's start with Soft Plastics. Depending on depths and currents in the areas that you're fishing determines how heavy or light you should go with your jig head. Generally, the lighter you go the more bites you will get as the plastics look more lifelike than a plastic sinking straight to the bottom. Start off using a weight around the 3/8oz as this will give you a good understanding of what the currents are doing and adjust from there.
Always keep an eye on your line when your plastic is going down through the water column as 90% of the time your bite will come on the drop. Once your plastic is on the bottom, work the plastic back to the boat and repeat the process with different retrieves and profiles of plastics.
When chasing Snapper with bait, burley is the key to a great bite, Anchor your boat away from the reef or bombie that you're wanting to fish and burley towards it.
Snapper spook very easily especially when you're fishing the in close reefs so make sure you don't go too heavy with your lead, as the lighter you go, the more natural your Pilchard or Squid will look when drifting down the burley trail.
The reason I use a bait runner style reel when float lining for Snapper is that the fish will not feel resistance against the bait when it hits, which stops the Snapper spitting your bait. Once the Snapper takes the bait and you have a consistent line screaming off your reel you can then engage the drag system on the reel to set the hook.