Spencer Gulf snapper sojourn

AFTER waiting 12 months for the opening of the snapper fishing season in South Australia last week, my mates and I arrived to be greeted by SE–SW winds gusting to 35 knots at Spencer Gulf, ending our hopes of chasing some of the region’s mega reds on soft plastics.

Not to be outdone, my regular fishing mates Damo, Chop and Tony Montana, joined forces with a bunch of fishos from Adelaide. We all sat around talking tackle and tactics when someone suggested that we have a BBQ for lunch … Not being one to sit back, and having another Greek there for moral support, the call went up for a lamb on the spit … What a way to spend a blown out afternoon. A spit was rustled up, troops were sent into Port Broughton to look for a sheep (not an easy task for those who have been to sleepy Port of Broughton ) thankfully the local butcher obliged and after a few hours about 16 people tucked into one of the best spur of the moment meals I’ve ever had. Fingers were crossed for some fishing over the next few days as we all slip into lamb induced comas …

The next few days produced a snapper fishing frenzy that had highs and lows. The highs included some great fish between 11 and 13.5 kg on plastics, and even though it was about my 10th trip over to SA, this visit really highlighted how much finesse had to be applied to get those shy reds to bite. Even though on 20-35 lb tackle the word “finesse” may not apply, sensing a “bite” 50-60 m away on a 1.5oz jig head really highlights how important super sensitive rods and the most advanced 8-thread braid are.

In some cases sensing a fish that had taken a jig on the drop is not possible without these super braids, and by the way we are talking about fish in 12-17m of water feeding in currents that run at 3-5 knots over the shoals – challenging stuff! Our best day saw us catch and release 50 snapper and one thing we have learnt over the years is not to take the fish out the water prior to release, and we only take the few fish out of the water that are destined for the table. Of the hundreds of reds we have released we have never had one “float”, unlike some of the other boats we observe who weigh, drop, photograph and then try and release a snapper only to have it float away.

inline_312_ SA 2 550.jpg

The author with a typical Spencer Gulf red taken on a soft plastic.

One of the lows was watching the pros decimate the fish in amongst the rec anglers. This year saw us definitely encounter less frequent schools of snapper on our regular haunts and over the years the fish have been getting smaller in average size, down from 8-9kg a few years ago to around 5-6kg these days. One only has to observe the “factory size” boats targeting blue swimmer crabs in the area to realise that the same mentality is happening with regard to the snapper. Even though most of the snapper have always been stuffed with crabs in their guts, we always observe heaps of blue swimmer crabs going past the boat on the surface with the tide when we fish the snapper grounds , this year I saw two surface drifting crabs in three days!

For the snapper nut who is willing to travel, heading over to SA in December and January is a must, it will broaden your horizons and let you refine your techniques and leave ample room to experiment. 12 months ago I was catching big reds on a plastic frog that looked like a squid we named ” Jimmy Legs”. I now see a well-known soft plastic company bringing out their own version of my Jimmy, maybe in a few weeks when I head back I may be using a big plastic spider called “Incy Wincy”… we will see.

See below for Stan’s video of snapper attracted by the recording light on a GoPro camera.


What's your reaction?

Related Posts

Load More Posts Loading...No More Posts.