by Jarrod Day
When it comes to fishing for a particular species, we are quite set on our own ways. Current techniques used that have been proven time and time again tend to set a standard, so why change if they are already successful?
The author displays a solid South Aus snapper taken on an Octo jig.
Snapper, take a wide selection of presented baits which makes fishing for them all the more appealing but for those into light tackle sports fishing, snapper are also a willing lure taker.
For anglers looking for other techniques to use to catch them, lure fishing is one of the more challenging but very rewarding.
When a snapper takes a lure, the fight is much more intense than when bait fishing.
What I like best about targeting snapper with lures is the fact that there are so many different lures that can be used. Each has its own specific retrieval method and each is just as deadly as the other.
There are many different lures you can use on snapper and all are very effective.
Soft plastics: Soft plastics have been one of the more effective lures to use on snapper for years and they continue to do so. Soft plastics are very easy to use considering they contain a weight which when allowed to sink will get to the strike zone.
Many anglers attempt to use softies but find they are not getting the expected results after only a short period of use. Soft plastics require the angler to be dedicated when using them. This means, rather than setting out a whole rack of baits and just casting about a few times, set out 2 baits so you can spread your casts further to cover more of an area. Then, instead of a dozen casts, put in 30 or 40 to really work the area, especially in your berley trail. One thing you will find with softies is that due to their nature of resembling a live baitfish, when they are taken, the fight is fast and fierce right up until the fish is landed unlike when taken on dead baits.
Those wanting to get into fishing with soft plastics do need to use the right gear for the job otherwise you won’t get the desired action from the lure.
Light rods in the 2-4kg or 3-5kg range with 3000 series reel and 6lb braid is ideal. There are also hundreds of plastics on the market but my personal results have come from the Squidgy 110mm pilly and evil minnow flickbaits, Berkley 4' Watermelon Pearl Bass Minnow and Exude 4' White jerk bait.
Soft plastics with solid jigs head work a treat on big reds.
Octo jigs: Big in South Australia, Octo jigs are one lure that is never passed up from a snapper.
Octo jigs come in a range of brands and each is just as good as the other. Personally, try to find something quite light in weights from 10g to 40g as many brands begin at 60g which can be too heavy for Port Phillip Bay. In Western Port however weights should begin around 80g to 150g due to the tidal strength. Octo jigs need not to be worked if you don’t want to work them. Basically, they can free-spooled to the bottom by the side or back of the boat, wound up two-three turns of the handle and be left to rock up and down with the boats motion. The action that the jig will get from doing this will resemble an octopus or squid swimming near the bottom. When fish swim into the berley trail looking for a meal, this lure becomes quite a popular meal. If you’re looking to work the lure, it can be also. Octo jigs can be cast and retrieved but you will get most out of the jig when it is worked in a similar retrieve to that of a soft plastic.
Octo jigs have been used a lot and work extremely well, often if left in the rod holder with only the boats motion doing the work for you.
Vibes: Metal vibes for snapper are one of the newest lures available for reds. Anglers have already mastered the art of using metal vibes for bream and have proved that they are one of the best lures going. When it comes to snapper there is no difference to that of bream fishing, apart from the fact that the vibe is much larger in size. Most snapper vibes are around 50-70mm in length and to work them correctly, it is imperative that the right rod be used. For this to be effective, a rod rated 3-5kg’s will suffice as you’ll have enough strength to work the lure effectively. A rod that is to light or that has a fast taper will absorb the vibrations and weight of the lure and the desired action won’t be achieved. A fast taper rod will get the desired action required when worked. To work a vibe, there is no difference between fishing for bream or snapper. The vibe can be cast, left to sink to the bottom then retrieved. The retrieve is as simple as lifting the rod tip a meter, followed by the lowering of the rod tip to the waters surface with a slow wind on the reels handle. When the line is tight, repeat the process.
Micro jigs: The latest craze in lure fishing for snapper is Micro jigging. This technique is highly effective throughout Asia and the world for a wide range of species. When it comes to snapper, jigging is already proven method. Micro jigging is the use of very small jigs only around 60-80mm in length ranging from 10g to 40g. They look exactly the same as a kingfish jig only smaller. To be used correctly, a micro jig rod is required with ratings of PE 0.8-PE 3. Reels only need to be in a 3000 or 4000 series with 10lb braid more than adequate. The entire outfit can be quite inexpensive if you have a look around to see what’s available. The Micro jigging technique is no different to jigging for kingfish although rather than being fast on the retrieve, a slower retrieve is required. This can be as simple as standing at the transom, dropping the jig to the bottom then with rod underarm, lift, wind the reels handle four turns then lift again repeating the process to the surface.
This technique is best undertaken when fish are sounded and you’re anchored over them. If you’re fishing blind without fish around you, the likelihood of hooking up is lower than if you were to find them schooled up first.
Jigging for snapper is just coming of age. A slow steady retrieve will entice them to bite.
Lure fishing for snapper is a popular affair for those looking for other techniques to employ. If you’ve been hitting the reds with bait so far this season, think about making the switch and try lure fishing, it will open up a whole new world to targeting reds.