As soon as December is over, I’m already missing the spring snapper schools out in the deep water off the west coast.
It’s not that snapper fishing is too shabby over summer – or for the rest of the year for that matter – but there is something special about that run of big spring fish. From mid-September on is our starting point, and we’re always keen to get out there at the first sign of calm weather. This year didn’t disappoint; the snapper were big, hungry, and in surprisingly good condition., We passed over a lot of what looked like snapper sign at 30 to 40metres, but as there were birds on top, we decided to keep going to avoid the inevitable schools of kahawai. That depth also tends to hold more sharks, and we didn’t want those.
As soon as our baits hit the bottom, we were on to good snapper. Initially, we used kahawai and mullet baits. I made the mistake of tying on a two-hook 8/0 flasher rig and avoided a double hook up on the first drop. The second drop felt like a double hookup that suddenly changed behaviour halfway up to find that the bottom hook and sinker had been neatly snipped off by either a shark or barracouta. That was the only gear lost that day, and I continued to fish just the one hook.
The snapper off the west coast have been big and in prime condition this spring.
Once we had a few snapper on board, we switched to jigs for similar results. Jigs fished slowly were effective on gurnard, but we only caught three or four along with a couple of kahawai; the rest was all snapper up to 17.5lbs. Almost all of them were 50cm plus-sized fish.
Other boats have reported similar results, and I know of one fish over 10kg that was caught that day; no doubt there were many more.
The harbour is also fishing well. There are still a few gurnard around, along with snapper and trevally. For whatever reason, I’ve heard of more big trevally caught this year than ever, although I haven’t caught anything over 50cm for a long time.
Bronze whaler sharks are starting to appear in the harbour all ready and are good land-based sport if you’re into that sort of thing. Up until now, shark action off the beaches has been pretty much tope and seven-gill sharks. The latter can be very common at this time of the year, but usually the numbers drop once we’re into summer.
Most importantly, before you go fishing, remember that in spring especially, conditions can change quickly, so it’s essential to double check the weather before heading out.
Take care, Smudge.