As the weather cools and most fishermen put away their boats for the winter, the dedicated souls who venture out into the cold can be rewarded with some wonderful snapper fishing around the hard fished waters off Sydney. Winter time in Sydney is when the snapper aggregate on the inshore reefs to feed and congregate before preparing for the spawn run once the weather starts to warm.
Those willing to brave the brisk winter mornings will often be met with relatively light winds and currents along with a notable absence of boat traffic creating ideal conditions to chase snapper. Snapper fishing off Sydney is never easy and my successful trips see my boat heading out or returning under the freezing cloak of winter darkness. You either need to be fishing well before the sun rises or late into the afternoon to capitalise on the change of light when the snapper start to feed actively.
Most of the winter fishing is in the 20 to 50m range with the structure I look for being the softer broken ground adjacent to a patch of hard reef. When approaching a spot to line up a drift, make sure you give the proposed drift line and spot a wide berth to avoid spooking the usually flighty snapper. I can’t emphasis this point enough, especially in shallower water where long casts and natural presentations are a key ingredient to success.
Once near the mark, scan the bottom for signs of life. Snapper will rise to feed off the bottom so look for actively moving fish in the bottom third of the water column rather than hard against the bottom itself.
I like to fish a mixture of lures where possible with five to seven inch soft plastics and a 3/8oz jig head on one outfit, a micro jig on another and an inchiku jig like the lightest Daiwa Pirates jig on a third outfit. On rough, windy days, the weight and action of the Daiwa Pirates come to the fore, allowing you to effectively reach and fish the depths vertically which might be tough otherwise.
My casting outfit for snapper is a Black Label V2 762 MLXS coupled with a TD Sol II 3000H loaded with 20lb braid and terminated with a 20lb leader while my jigging setup is utilises a short, parabolic micro jig rod coupled with the Blast 4020PE-SH loaded with PE2 colour change braid and 20lb leader.
Snapper have powerful jaws and crunch a lure with gusto allowing you to differentiate a missed snapper bite from other reef species by the tell-tale peg teeth marks on the lure body of jig head.
Snapper make powerful, lunging runs for the bottom when hooked so it imperative to use much as pressure as you dare initially to steer them away from the bottom and avoid being reefed. They’re a crafty opponent that fight admirably and are a striking fish featuring crimson hues interlaced with iridescent blue dots. I love snapper fishing and with winter just around the corner we’re coming into peak time to start chasing the inshore run of Sydney reds!