• 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

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 >

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 >

    Fishing Reports Visit Reports

    Tauranga Fishing Report - 21/09/23

    The good old saga of the good, the bad, and the ugly? Well, weather wise... Read More >

    Outer Hauraki Gulf Fishing Report - 21/09/23

    Much like the weather, the fishing is starting to really heat up in the Gulf.... Read More >

    Canterbury Fishing Report - 21/09/23

    The past two weeks have seen some really unsettled weather for us in Canterbury, with... Read More >

    Bay of Islands Fishing Report - 21/09/23

    Finally, it’s on! Dolphins, gannets, terns, seals, and even a whale… simply chaos last Tuesday... Read More >

    Fishing bite times Fishing bite times

    Major Bites

    Minor Bites

    Major Bites

    Minor Bites

    Recent Posts Visit Forum

    61 Active Users online, 61 Guest(s), 0 Member(s)
    Auckland Yakkers
    in Yak Yak Yak
    7 hours ago

    Yeah there are some nice fish straylining up there round Little Barrier in close under 10m but hard to hook, quite skittery and haul line and...

    BOP Yakmen
    in Yak Yak Yak
    8 hours ago

    Nice piwikiwi, water temp juped by 1 degree from last week to the week before, I had 14.8 c. I guess when we pass 16 c...

    Drone fishing reports
    in Fishing and filming with Drones
    9 hours ago
    My Bait

    Tried again this morning but this time I got a snag, first time ever with kite fishing or the drone, lost everything ie: 3xtraces plus sinkers...

    Wanted to buy - Ocean Angler Powerflex Carbon
    in Buy Sell Trade or Exchange
    13 hours ago

    I have an 'as new' Powerflex Titanium that's surplus to requirements, if of interest...

    tauranga fishing
    in Fishing Reports
    14 hours ago

    Thanks Greg....