Monday, August 16, 2010

2Dans Fishing - Radio show rundown 15th August 2010

Fishy Fact File – Snapper – Pagrus auratus

As most of you reading this will know Snapper are amongst the most sort after fish species finning Australia’s coastal waters, however scientifically ‘our’ snapper are different to what most of the world refers to as a snapper. Unique to only a number of countries around the world, we are fortunate to count Australia as one of them. Other countries which have populations of Pagrus auratus are New Zealand and a reproductively isolated population in Japan, a closely related species Sparus auratus is found in Europe.

Range and Distribution: Snapper inhabit Australian waters from Gladstone on Queensland’s coast all the way around to Shark Bay in WA, also encountered occasionally around the Islands of Bass straight as well as Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island. This species has been the focus of countless research papers and fisheries projects, whilst anglers nationwide spend inestimable hours, weekly, monthly and yearly trying their hand at catching a specimen worthy of the title trophy sized snapper. Research points to a number of essentially geographically separate populations. Here is a link to a map showing the distribution of this magnificent fish; Map of Snapper, Pagrus auratus range and distribution

Size: The Australia record for snapper is 18.4kg, although fish of this size are few and far between, any fish over 5kg is considered a very respectable catch in NSW and QLD waters, whilst in SA and VIC fish over 10kg are regularly encountered. Most fish encountered are between 1kg and 3kgs.

Age: Snapper for the most part grow very slowly, there growth is said to be ‘plastic’, which means fish from different areas and even fish from different genetic stocks in the same locale can grow at very different rates. As an average rule of thumb a snapper measuring 60cm’s fork length can be between 8 and 30 years old, however most fish of this length tend to be closer to 30 years in age research has found. In light of this we ask you to be conscious of this when you get onto a hot bite of snapper.

Spawning and sexual maturity: Snapper spawn at various different times according to location, unfortunately this tends to coincide with the peak fishing season in many locations, due to the groups of snapper that form at these times. The more northerly stocks, seem to spawn earlier throughout winter, whilst those in southerly waters spawn from spring to early summer.
When spawning, the males turn grey along their back and patches are also noticeable on their heads, the females remain silvery pink and feature swollen abdomens and outwardly protruding vents.
Research has shown Snapper spawn repeatedly over a twelve to fifteen week breeding season, which increases the chances of survival of the juveniles and species. Apparently males butt the females repeatedly with their heads to stimulate egg release. Once fertilization occurs, the eggs float upwards through the water column. After approximately two days they hatch into tadpole-like larvae adrift in the current. The ensuing three weeks, see the larvae move towards the seabed, slowly changing to represent recognisable juvenile snapper.

: The best tackle for fishing for snapper varies depending on the depth of water, the size of the fish you are targeting and the style or technique you implement. For soft-plastic fishing the rods should 7-8ft in length and suited to fish 3-8kg line classes, which equates to 12 to 20/30lb braid depending on your preference. Personally I have 2 set-ups one which I fish 12lb braid over (breaks about 20lb) and the other I fish 15lb Stren micro-fuse over which breaks closer to 35-40lb. The reels should be either 3000 or 4000 size and as high quality as you can afford or justify, select a reel that enables you to fit 250-300 metres of braid, as these outfits are so versatile you will find yourself fishing for loads of different species with them. If bait fishing at anchor with floaters and a berley trail again a seven foot rod is well suited, it is also considered that 20-30lb mono straight through to the hook is a better line for fishing floaters at anchor offshore in a current. Some die-hard snapper guru’s use a 10ft fibreglass rod and an Alvey loaded with 30lb mono, in Port Phillip Bay where there is generally less current than the offshore environs of the east coast the set-up is different again. If fishing with paternoster style rigs and drifting over reef terrain select an overhead rod and reel loaded with 20 – 30lb braid. Leaders should be between 15-40lbs depending on the size of fish you expect to encounter and how ‘bite-shy’ the fish are. For more detailed info on the hooks, jig heads and soft plastics get in to your local tackle store. Or stay tuned for updates on our blog.
Fishing Techniques: As touched on above there are a number of techniques that can be successfully employed to hook and land snapper. For details on this buy our DVD, ‘In Search Of Old Man Snapper’.
Eating qualities: Snapper are rated highly by everyone on the dinner plate, which is why they are so popular in restaurants and homes Australia wide. It is also why the stocks of snapper around the country are under such continual pressure, and fisheries are undertaking exhaustive research and continually changing regulations to try and protect this very valuable fish and fishery.
PLEASE NOTE: If you love catching and eating these fish, please limit your take to what you will eat fresh and release those fish which you cannot, especially during spawning season. Whilst your friends, families and neighbours will appreciate your generous offerings, you, your children and future generations will appreciate it more if there are healthy stocks of Snapper in the future.

On the Fishing Line – Dave from the Gold Coast in southern QLD.
Dave sent in an email to find out how he can catch fish on soft-plastics. He has read the articles, bought the gear and spent a bunch of time fishing with them, but is having limited success.
Dan Burgess a master of fishing with soft-plastics and myself offered the following tips;
1) Slow your retrieve right down, the temptation and impatience is to fish soft-plastics too quickly. A slower retrieve with small purposeful twitches and flicks will catch more fish.
2) Fish Structure – edges of weed beds, rock bars or walls, submerged timber, sandy drop-offs, mooring chains, moored boats, harbour markers and buoys.
3) Select a species to target and select a soft-plastic lure (and jig head and hook size) that resembles the type and size of prey that species regularly eats.
4) Many manufacturers sell scented soft-plastics, others provide scents which can be added, these can help entice a bite.
If you have any further suggestions to increase success with soft plastics, please shoot us an email

Style Guide – Jigging
Jigging is an awesome technique that works well on many species, it is rigorous and strenuous on the body and the strains on tackle can be quite immense, so always select the highest quality gear you can afford.
In Australia, anglers target a wide array of species jigging and what species this is, is dictated by their location. Throughout southern NSW the go to species is yellowtail kingfish, further north on the east coast large amberjack and yellowtail kingfish are both encountered regularly, bar cod can also be effectively targetted. Tuna of all species can be caught on jigs where ever they are encountered. In South Oz again jumbo yellowtail kingfish, amberjack and tuna are caught by jiggers. Whilst over in WA the Samson fish rules the roost, there is a great fishery and charter industry set-up to catch these fish, expect to come back with longer arms than you left though. Up in the tropics there seems to be no limit to the species that are regularly caught on jigs, perhaps the most encountered would be Giant Trevally known as GT’s followed by Dogtooth Tuna and a host of aggressive reef species.
Basically for anyone who doesn’t know Jigging is a style of fishing that uses a lure made from metal or lead (which is shaped and painted to resemble a fish – kind of), the jigs themselves can be a variety of shapes, lengths and weights and suit different jigging styles and different water depths as well as species. Originally developed in it’s infancy in Hawaii, it’s popularity spread around the world in the 1970’s and 80’s. Back then the rods were long, the lures very basic and the technique simply a matter of dropping the lure to the bottom and cranking it to the surface. Since then much has changed in the technology used in fishing, rods are now made from graphite, the reels have far superior drag systems and are built to withstand massive torque and forces and most importantly of all, BRAID or GEL-SPUN super lines were invented. Much of this the world has to thank the Japanes and their pioneering ways for.
The new jigging craze has been led by the Japanese and the rest of the world has followed and copied.
With the advent of the new tackle much more specific styles have developed for targeting different species of fish, or targeting the same species of fish in different feeding moods or when feeding on different types of prey. The basic premise is still the same, locate a reef with substantial vertical rise over a short distance, sound around to locate the school of fish and drop the lures into the depths below. Once the lure reaches the bottom, start winding it back to the surface actively jigging or jerking the rod (long and or short jerks) to impart an erratic action to the lure. AND HANG ON.
For further details check out these links below and keep an eye out in Modern Fishing magazine for future articles.

Tackle: One of the most immediately obvious oddities about the tackle is the shortness and curve of the rods. The best rods for jigging these days have a parabolic curve, with a fast taper at the tip. There are many brands making great rods for jigging so get into the local quality tackle store to see what is available and what you are prepared to pay for. Jigging can be done effectively using either a threadline or overhead set-up, both place stresses on the body in different ways and many anglers have one of each to change between throughout a session. As a general guide select a 5 to 6’6” foot graphite rod suited to fishing between 30lb to 120lb braid. Select a high quality thread-line or overhead reel (Daiwa and Shimano arguably make the best reels for this style of fishing) capable of holding up to 300metres of line and pushing up to 14kg’s of drag. The great thing about jigging outfits is they can also be used for live-baiting, and the threadline reels in particular can be used for casting poppers and metals on the correct rod very effectively. I love to hate to say it – but spend as much money as you can afford so that you get an outfit that will consistently deliver excellent service and help you catch more fish.

Around the Grounds

In Tasmania it is a good time of year to head to the lakes region and try your hand at fly-fishing for brown or rainbow trout. In the salt-water the next few weeks present the last opportunities to get out and fish for Tasmania Striped trumpeter before the closed season commences (The closed season occurs during the main spawning period for the Tasmanian Striped trumpeter ; 1st September through till the 1st of November 2010 ). If you love a feed of squid or calamari, right now is good time to get the squid jigs out and catch a feed of southern calamari.
Back on the mainland in the mountains of Victoria there are some great places to go and catch some trout. Try walking the banks with a fly-rod in hand, or slow trolling Tassie Devil lures in the shallows above weed beds and rock bars.
Back on the coast of Victoria offshore from Warnambool to Portland there have been sporadic catches of tuna, although much quieter than a few weeks or months ago.
Whyalla, Snapper Capitol of the world, it is a good time to chase King George Whiting. Along the coast around Ceduna get amongst the Australian salmon off the beaches or fish larger baits around dawn and dusk to chase Mulloway or Jewfish.
South around Busselton it’s there are good numbers of Australian, Salmon and Tailor as well as bream in the estuaries and rivers.
Further north from Shark Bay to Exmouth the pilchard run has commenced and creates a great opportunity to chase a huge range of pelagic species. Metals, soft-plastics or fly, just look for the schools of baitfish and go fish around them, awesome fun.
Darwin what have you got to say. Get up there to escape the cold weather catch plenty of fish and have a ball.
Great time of year for mackerel fishing, the Barramundi however will be slower due to colder water and slower metabolisms.
Up in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park if you can get up there and find a gap in the windy weather there is a host of great fish to be caught. Offshore there have been catches of Large Mouth Nannygai, Red Emperor and coral trout. Inshore there has been a good run of spotted mackerel and Spanish mackerel, look for shale areas along the coast, or fish the shoals with live-baits for the Spaniards.
In Southern Queensland off of the Gold Coast winter is a good time to get out and enjoy targeting the Blue Marlin that fin those waters.
Inland Southern Queensland is enjoying one of the best winter bass seasons in years due to the amount of rain over recent weeks and months. Seek out the fish in deep water on the sounder where they are holding up in large schools around rocks bars and sunken timer. Fish deep with vibes for best results.
Throughout the Northern Rivers area of NSW I’d be putting my time and effort in to catching snapper and pearl perch on the inshore reefs.
Whilst in Southern NSW head to the wider 50-100 meter reefs, sound around until to you locate fish and drop away and start jigging for yellowtail kingfish.
If you have any reports of your own that’d you would like to share with nation email us;


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