Pagris Auratus or more commonly know as Snapper are the bread and butter of inshore reef fishing from the bottom of WA around through South Australia coast and up to South East Queensland. With Fish source being located in Coffs Harbour, arguably one of the prize snapper fisheries in Australia with the likes of Port Phillip Bay in Victoria and Arno Bay in South Australia, we are accustomed to fishing for this great fighting, tasty sports fish 12 months of the year. The challenging part is of course following their migration from the deep into the shallows and back to the depths as the seasons change. To target them on lures is both challenging and highly rewarding. To help you get an understanding of what, when and where to target these fish we have come up with our favorite Top 5 Snapper Lures.
Dale Johnson – 4x Dave Irvine Memorial Snapper Champ – Kayak
1. Berkley Gulp 6” Grub
Where – Works well everywhere but my favourite is around kelp beds or reef with kelp. Normally shallower water up to about 25m.
When – Normally low light periods (early morning, late afternoon), for fishing around shallower kelp beds, but is successful anytime.
How – Fish the lightest jig head you can to still get it down around the kelp, then using a mixture of slow lifts, pauses, slow rolls and free spooling to keep it basically slowly sliding its way in and out of the kelp, occasionally grabbing at some and pulling free. The idea is to let the amazing tail of these grubs do the work for you. Even the slightest and slowest movement through the water will have the tail looking irresistible, and you want to keep it in the zone as long as possible.
Why – My theory on it isn’t a science, I just think it must look like something edible that’s been dislodged from the kelp or reef and is floating around with the current – this then leads into my favourite colour for this lure.
Colours – New Penny is absolute dynamite. I often say it must look like a tasty little nugget of poo drifting around the kelp… The pearl white has also been very productive.
2. Z-man Jerkshads
Where – Anywhere. Both very versatile with different jighead weights.
When – I like to fish these any time of the day, I will just adjust going between 5” & 7” and changing jig head weights to suit, see more below.
How – I will normally fish a 7” with a lighter head in shallow water early in the morning, and will downsize to a 5” if not getting a good response. If moving to deeper water as the sun rises I will stick with the 7” more often to accommodate heavier weight heads in the deeper water, but the 5” is still easy to fish deep as they don’t need as big a weight to get a similar sink rate. Both lures I will fish basically the same in any water/depth – casting in the direction of your drift, sink it to the bottom (or the rough depth you want to fish), then its an aggressive 2-3 hop style lift, drop the rod tip and let it fall back down. Depending on the speed of your drift, current etc I will often not wind in the slack created with each movement, rather just let it sink back on that slack line for 2 or 3 cycles of the ‘flick’, then I’ll pick up the slack, pause and go again. However this will vary basically every single time you fish as things will never be exactly identical.
Why – Classic injured or dying baitfish movement. Aggressively darting around like having its last kicks of life, then a dying flutter/sink. This is why a lighter head is important for the fall.
Colours – Redbone glow is my favourite and im not sure why – just looks awesome. Sexy Mullet in the 5”, Smokey Shad and Mulletron in both sizes for excellent baitfish imitations.
3. Berkley Gulp 6” Nemesis
Where – Another versatile lure which can be fished effectively in a range of conditions by simply adjusting weights, however this is my go to for deeper water 25m+ instead of the gulp grub. It sinks quicker than the grub thanks to its more streamlined shape, but still has lots of tail action when allowed to drop.
When – Any time of the day but one of the baits I go to more during the middle of the day if I go looking for fish in deeper water.
How – I use a mix of a jerk shad style aggressive retrieve, and then allow the bait to drop, often with a freespool mixed in.
Why – The why on this one certainly isn’t an exact science, it simply looks good in the water. The body has a great slim baitfish profile but the curl tail means its always on the move, even when you are letting it drop or just sit in a bit of current.
Colours – Pearl white and pink shine have worked well for me in the past, however the blue pepper neon is my main go to thanks to is pilchard or baitfish colours.
4. Metal Jigs – any small, short flutter style jigs up to 100g.
Where – Deeper water 25-30m+, they really come into their own fishing the deeper stuff though 50m+ simply because of the efficiency for fishing at depth.
When – Another one that works a treat at all times, but is great for during the day when you go to deeper water to find fish once the sun is high.
How – A quality sounder and understanding of using it is vital to effectively just these lures. You want to be finding bait, fish or both and specifically drop the jig to them. These fish will often vary where they are sitting in the water column, and you want to drop to jig down to the depth the fish are at, by using either colour coded line, or watching the jig on your sounder. Let the jig fall past the fish, use a slow lift/wind/lift/wind retrieve through the depth the fish are hold then stop and drop it back down. Vary the retrieve speed and style to try and find out what the fish respond to, and try things like varying the depth you drop the jig to in relation to the fish. Try dropping it all the way past then retrieving, and if that doesn’t work, try dropping it to just above where the fish are sitting then retrieve a short way to mimic a falling baitfish that has seen something it doesn’t want to get any closer to!
5. Rubber octopus skirt style lures
What – There seems to be a boom of these on the market lately, and they will almost all work at some time or another. There are 2 distinct styles – fixed – where the head, skirt and hooks are all fixed together in one unit, and sliding – where the skirt and hooks are separate from the lead head that is free to slide up the line. This sliding head design has a lot of merit and looks to have an amazing action in the water, but majority of my experience and catches have come on a fixed style – the Shimano Lucanus.
Where – These are great in deeper water but due to a massive range of weights available they can also be fished effectively over shallower ground.
When – As they seem to look a little like a small squid or octopus, low light periods or at night when they are around is a good time try fish them, but I’ve had good success all through the day.
How – There are 2 main ways I fish these lures. First I will use them in the exact same style as if I fishing directly to sounded fish in deeper water – find the fish on the sounder, drop the jig down to them and hover it in their face with small, slow movements and lift/drops.
Second, if I’m fishing them in shallower water, I will fish a lighter model, cast it out and after letting it sink down to a desired depth, I will then use a consistent slow roll with some light lift and drops of the rod tip so it ‘swims’ through the water. The bites on these lures can be a little tough to get the hang of as even big fish will often just ‘nip’ at the tail of the lure and you have to resist the temptation to strike and pull the lure away from the fish, keep the retrieve going and let the fish keep working at the lure until it gets a hook!