Tuned in snapper anglers understand that snapper love kelp. Whether the attraction is primarily food or whether it’s shelter orientated, I’m not sure, but I suspect that both factors play a part.
Kelp beds support an ecosystem rich in snapper delicacies. Not only do small fish, a favourite for reds, seek shelter amongst the waving fronds, but the reef on which the kelp grows is rich in crustaceans as well. Crabs, prawns and lobsters hide out amongst the kelp, Octopus and squid hunt and shelter there; hence snapper are never far away.
Kelp and snapper is, however, a bittersweet relationship for the angler. The good news is that if you can find a decent kelp bed, you are likely to find snapper. The bad news comes in the form of the amount of fish you will lose. Once hooked, snapper more than likely, will bolt for cover and in so doing, snag lines.
To my way of thinking, there are three things you angler can do to maximise success.
- Fish Heavy. You’ll always get more bites with light line, but in this situation, light line isn’t the angler’s best friend. 10 kg braid will be sufficient to keep smaller fish clear of trouble, but a fish over 4kg in size becomes difficult to extract. 15kg line is the lightest I’ll use in the kelp, but I prefer 20kg (or 40lb). Similarly, hooks should be slightly larger and heavier than normal. 6/0 bait hooks and 5/0 jig head hooks are a wise option when you need to lock up on a downward bound red.
- Stay Mobile. Anchoring is the way to go when fishing floating baits amidst a berley trail, but when using soft plastics, I prefer to drift. As soon as a large fish is hooked, I start up the motor and try to keep the boat above the fish, which gives a more vertical pull than can be achieved when a fish is hooked at a distance from the boat. Be warned however, you need to be quick!
- Don’t Panic. Of the 3 decent fish in the pics hereabouts, 2 snagged me in the kelp. As I was by myself, and given that the sea was bumpy and that it was a bit windy, it wasn’t easy to fight them and drive at the same time. Once I was ‘kelped’, I backed off the drag a little and moved the boat to the front of the fish. On both occasions I felt the line flick free of the kelp and it was game on once more. Up went the drag and by keeping the boat above the fish, I was able to lift them free.
It goes without saying, that you need to use a reels that are capable of delivering heavy but smooth drag pressure. I have been using a 3500Blast/ Gen Black Supercasta 762MHFS 7’6” for most of my snapper soft plastics fishing to great effect. This outfit is light to use and the rod has sufficient brawn in the butt to apply hurt. I can use it all day, and given that it does cast exceptionally well, I do find myself bending it inside out over the kelp.
However, when the water is shallow, say 10-15m, and big fish are about, I pull out the rhino killer; a 4000 Saltist Nero set on a Demon Blood 762 MH (medium heavy). This combo has balls to burn and when loaded with Daiwa’s new 40lb J-Braid will stop all but the largest fish dead in their tracks!
Both outfits are quite economical on the pocket and they really do deliver. I reckon they’ll account for some mighty fish this winter!