Nearby Store:

Posted 09th February 2024

How to Catch Snapper in the Shallows

How to Catch Snapper in the Shallows
How to Catch Snapper in the Shallows

By Jack Gillespie

Snapper fishing is a favourite past time for many Australians and for good reason. They fight hard, are elusive at times and also make a good table fish when prepared correctly.

Targeting snapper on soft plastics in close, in sub-12m of water has become my favourite way to fish in the past 3 or 4 years. They hit the lure with aggression and often times unexpected so you must always be on your toes.

The ground

Snapper will spend most of their time living in and around reefy structure so that’s always a good place to start when trying to locate fish. When fishing these areas try to stick to the edge of the reef where it meets the sand. Most of my casts in fact will not be targeting the reef at all and more so the sand around the reef to avoid unwanted bycatch. Snapper love to get off the reef to feed on yabbies and crabs, often times while returning to the reef for protection, so be stealthy. Use the wind and tide to work your way around the reef as much as possible as even electric motors can spook these shallow water fish.

Locating broken sandy bottom with the use of side imaging sonar has become a very productive way to find fish, broken bottom can be small weed patches or where straight sand could turn to a more coarse shell grit/sand mixture. I’ve learnt to not spend much time motoring around on this type of structure as snapper will be very finicky out in the open and easily spook. I will find the bottom, set up a drift and get to casting!

The technique for fishing soft plastics for snapper is fairly simple. It’s a good practice to always set the boat/kayak in a position where you are casting the same direction you are drifting so you can maintain good contact with your lure. Long casts help with finicky fish and simply let your lure sink to the bottom, then twitch it back off the bottom a couple of meters then let it sink and repeat the process all the way back to the boat. If I’ve learnt anything while snapper fishing it’s that in most cases they will hit the your lure as it’s sinking or as soon as it hits the bottom, so ALWAYS maintain good contact with your lure and when you do have a bite be sure to strike hard!

Bait Junkie options

With the Bait Junkie range continuously growing there are more and more options to choose from. What I use very much comes down to the size of fish I’m are targeting. My favourites from this summer have been the newly introduced 3” Prawn which I’ve found great around the edges of the reef where snapper will be eating yabbies and crabs. I will fish the Prawn a little slower, while the 5” Jerkshad which is a very versatile lure can be fished almost anywhere as it is imitating baitfish.

Jighead weight will depend on wind, tide and how deep you are fishing. I will use a max weight of 3/8oz and 4/0-5/0 hook size. Snapper will crunch you hooks to pieces given the chance so best to stick to the heavy wire jig heads. 

Rod, reel and line

The rod I have found perfect for inshore/ estuary snapper is the TD Zero 732MLXS 3-6kg. It’s a great length to get a good casting distance and just enough muscle to be able to turn a decent sized snapper around if headed for structure.

The reel I have been using for the past couple of years is the 21 Saltist MQ 3000. It ticks all the boxes, smooth drag, lightweight and very durable.

Braid I find the J-Braid Expedition 12lb fantastic as it’s silicon coating eliminates most of you slack line when sinking your lure ensuring you stay in solid contact ready to strike. When there is no major structure in the area I will fish a light 12lb leader to help with finicky fish and when around reefy structure I will fish a heavier 16-20lbs J-Thread X-Link leader for a bit more security.



Check out these other Posts

See All
See All