• HTC - Snapper

M?ori name: T?mure 

Scientific name: Chrysophrys auratus 

All-tackle NZ record: 17.2kg 

Eating quality: Excellent 


Snapper is arguably New Zealand’s most popular sport and table fish. They are copper-pink on top with a silver-white underside and small blue dots along their sides. 

Most snapper mature between 3 and 5 years of age or around 23cm in length. Adult snapper can grow to 1m in length and live to over 60 years in age. 

Adult snapper are generalists, capable of occupying a wide range of habitats and eating a large variety of food sources. They prey predominantly on crustaceans, worms, shellfish, kina, squid, and other fish.

Where to catch 

Snapper are found consistently around the entire North Island. Further south, they occur mostly around the upper third of the South Island, straying further south in summer. The Hauraki Gulf, Bay of Islands, Doubtless Bay, Bay of Plenty, Hawke Bay, Taranaki Bight, Tasman Bay, and Golden Bay are recognised snapper breeding areas. 

Within their preferred range, snapper are at home in a wide range of habitats, including rocky reefs, areas with sandy or muddy bottoms, harbours, and estuaries. They are mainly caught in depths of 1-60m but can also be found down to about 200m. By virtue of their distribution, they are a key target for both land-based and boat anglers.

When to catch 

Large numbers of adult snapper migrate close inshore in spring and early summer to feed aggressively before and after spawning. Breeding takes place in moderate depths in wide, sheltered bays once the water temperature nudges 18°C.  

Once summer hits its stride, juvenile fish join the adults inshore and can dominate the catch, especially in sheltered harbours. 

Snapper present excellent angling opportunities year-round, with winter being a particularly good time to hunt down trophy fish that inhabit shallow reefs.  

Dawn and dusk is a prime-time for seducing snapper, since many fish rely on low light for camouflage, especially in shallow water. Night fishing can be good (especially if there is some moon), but snapper often go off the bite a couple of hours after the sun goes down.  

The tide is important, especially in the shallows; in some harbours, productive fishing areas dry out completely at low tide. The effect of the tide varies from place to place, with most locations fishing better on one tide or the other (incoming or outgoing). Snapper fishing is consistently better when the tide is running, particularly on the East Coast, and it pays to target Bite Times to maximise your chances. It is also worth remembering that snapper fishing can often be poor during and immediately following a full moon.

How to catch 

As generalist feeders occupying a wide range of habitats, snapper are readily caught using a wide variety of methods. 


Slow-jigging with lures such as sliders, inchikus, and micro-jigs is now one of the most popular methods of snapper fishing, particularly in areas like the Hauraki Gulf during workup season. This technique is best employed in depths of 20-60m, with efforts concentrated in the ‘bite zone’ close to the bottom.   


A simple and versatile way to catch snapper year-round in shallower water (less than 20m) is casting and retrieving soft-baits. Standard practice involves casting ahead of your drift direction, letting the soft-bait sink to the bottom (while staying alert for bites), then slowly retrieving it with twitching rod lifts and drops.


Stray-lined baits are usually cast away from the boat or shore and allowed to sink slowly towards the bottom with little or no weight. Fishing large baits, in conjunction with berley, is a traditional way to catch large snapper, especially in reefy territory. Boat placement in relation to the structure you are fishing is key, with wind and a decent current running in the same direction preferable. 

Dropper and flasher rigs 

Dropper and flasher rigs include one or more baited hooks branching off the main line with a suitable sinker at the bottom. Sufficient weight is needed to keep the baits near the bottom, where snapper often feed. 


Snapper are a prime target for many shore anglers. Good snapper numbers feed off surf beaches around the North Island, with renowned spots including Taranaki and Ninety Mile Beach.  

Berleying and casting straylined baits off the rocks is a great way to bag a few snapper, and in more remote locations the fish will swim right up to your feet!  


Saltwater fly enthusiasts regularly target snapper with flies (such as clouser minnow and shrimp/crab imitations) in shallow water.   

Similar Articles

Bait Fishing for Big Snapper
2 March 2021

Alistair Arkell still believes that the best way to target big snapper is with bait. He shares the rigs, preferred baits and tactics he uses to... Read More >

Selective breeding in fish
7 February 2019

If you’re not already a member of the 20lb snapper club, your time might be running out thanks to human-induced evolution, suggests genetics student Anna Blair…... Read More >

Stray lining techniques for snapper
26 November 2018

Pete (‘PJ’) Jones shares his thoughts and theories on a super-effective stray-lining technique that targets bigger snapper.... Read More >

Snapper Fishing - landbased techniques
6 October 2000

  Mark Kitteridge shares his vast experience in catching 'mega-reds' from the rocks.... Read More >

1 Rating:
Softbaiting For Snapper - Rods, Reels, Line, Jigheads and Softbaits
26 November 2021

Catching snapper on softbaits starts with having the right gear. Experienced softbait angler, Mark Kitteridge shares his preferences on everything you'll need to get underway.... Read More >

    Fishing Reports Visit Reports

    Saltwater Fishing Reports
    Northland Fishing Report - 16/05/24

    Trophy fish on offer With the temperatures dropping and the days getting shorter, you could... Read More >

    16 May 2024
    Saltwater Fishing Reports
    Tauranga Fishing Report - 16/05/24

    Tarakihi and snapper on the chew Things are starting to be a bit quieter with... Read More >

    16 May 2024
    Saltwater Fishing Reports
    Raglan Fishing Report - 16/05/24

    Fresh bait key to bigger fish The run of good autumn fishing continues with a... Read More >

    16 May 2024
    Saltwater Fishing Reports
    Bay of Islands Fishing Report - 16/05/24

    Straylining effective Team Zeus has been out there doing it again! Photos of huge crayfish,... Read More >

    16 May 2024

    Fishing bite times Fishing bite times

    Major Bites

    Minor Bites

    Major Bites

    Minor Bites

    Recent Posts Visit Forum

    63 Active Users online, 63 Guest(s), 0 Member(s)
    Best we got from lovely day ysterday in inner gulf
    in Fishing Reports
    4 hours ago

     Reguiding gurnard rod tonight as  few eyes got broken, replaced one that broke  fishin and other came away in fingers checking  other guides. Bad corrosion for...

    The magical Far North delivers again
    in Fishing Reports
    5 hours ago
    White snake

    Looks like a great trip.Thanks for taking the time to post.was a awsome read....

    Out With The over 12's & Under 20's
    in Fishing Reports
    6 hours ago

    We have had a ball fishing the shallows around Rangi for the last two weekends with old fashioned bait and berley.Old school straylining back onto structure...

    Barrel Smoker
    in The Kitchen - Seafood Recipes
    11 hours ago

    Have done that , one of the best...

    Out with the "Twelves"
    in Fishing Reports
    11 hours ago

    Will to try and get across your side "Kandrew" next Saturday,nil fish on my side....