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7 Nov 2023

Tips for catching Snapper

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Favourite Bite Times

  • 2 hrs either side of a tide change
  • Sunrise & Sunset
  • When a tide change coincides with sunrise or sunset
  • Rising or high barometer
  • The week before or after a full moon
  • Windy or choppy days or after a big gale

Best Time of Year

  • Spring & Autumn / Sept to March. (Oct & Nov usually prime months)
  • Water temps 18-20deg to kick off spawning activity
  • When the Tea-Trees are in flower!

Catch & Bag Limits

  • Min legal size 28cm
  • Can have 10 in total but no more than 3 fish exceeding 40cm in length
  • Measure the length from nose to tip of the tail
  • Pinkies are called Snapper at 40cm
  • Snapper have to be kept whole till back on land, can be bled & gutted
  • Best to bleed immediately if keeping by cutting underneath gills/throat
  • Snapper are slow growing, can grow to over 10Kg/20 pound and live for up to 60years

Gear I Use:

Rods: 6ft-7ft Boat rod. Hooks: 6/O circles (better for catch and release)

Reels: 4000-6000.

Rigs: You can use commercial pre- rigs, we make our own paternoster using 80lb leader, hooks and beads

Line: mostly braid around 30Lb. Leader: 40lb fluorocarbon

Sinkers: 6 ounce bombs but up sinker size with the current/flow to keep on the bottom or down size when the run slows. There is a Port Phillip Bay set up that uses a round sinker running down the line to the hook….look it up!

Swivels: use strong Barrels and Snaps


  • Get the bait fish feeding & the Snapper May follow!
  • Chicken pellets in tuna oil is my go to Berley mix but you can buy commercial blends

Top Snapper Baits:

Squid, Pilchards, Salmon, Yakkas, Mackerel, Whiting, Mullet, Garfish, Bonito

(Fresh is Best!) Bait presentation is important…do some research. My fave is to bridle bait a fish fillet in an aerodynamic triangle shape, hook exposed. It’s very important to check it sits well in the current and doesn’t spin. Fresh squid is dynamite too!

Tips for successful Catch & Release:

It’s ok to keep a feed but after that it’s great to catch and release to help sustain the species into the future.

  • Leave Snapper in the water- if you must lift it out keep air exposure to a minimum eg: get someone else to get your camera ready before you lift it out
  • Use wet hands and hold the fish underneath….don’t put your fingers in the Gills or touch the eyes
  • Use an enviro net or rubber silicone net to minimise damage to the scales, skin and mucous layer that occurs with knotted nets. The finer the mesh the better! Loss of scales leads to infections.
  • Avoid suspending the fish on the hook
  • Fish hooked in the mouth or lip have the best chance of survival (use circle hooks)
  • Use fish grips in the water to release the hook faster
  • If you can’t see the hook protruding from the mouth of the fish, don’t try to remove it, cut the line.
  • Gently swim the fish in the water & release. ( if returning fish to the water do this until it revives)
  • Expel gas from the swim bladder of Large fish – done with a spike on an angle (mouth and/or anus) – especially fish caught in over 10metres depth and susceptible to Barotrauma

Best places to find Snapper:

  • Off piers when it’s windy & choppy on the water- fish feed actively in shallow waters , mouths of rivers etc
  • Structure/reefy areas/heavy rubbly bottom…where there is bait/food sources
  • A well tuned boat sounder will show groups (the iconic stacking up on the bottom like a Christmas tree)
  • In Westernport for example, different areas fish differently at different times of year eg: Snapper go up the top end of the Bay when they come in around Octbecause of the warmth of the shallower water for spawning
  • You can get GPS marks off maps as a starter…eg: Tackleworld Maps
  • Talk to your local tackleshop for advice on where you might find them!

For more information on fishing for Snapper and the regulations, check out the VFAs Rec Fishing Guide entry here

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