snapper
Left: A decent 45cm southern bay snapper fell to a Zerek Flash Minnow Wriggly. Right: A solid 58cm snapper hoovered a Zerek Flash Minnow Wriggly.

Surprise snapper success

Well, what a dismal start to 2024! snapper

With all the rain earlier in the year, the water around the southern bay islands was very ordinary, to say the least.

Throw in the wind and trying to coordinate dates when people can go fishing with the days and weather windows available and we’ve managed only one day on the water between Christmas and writing this article.

In the 15 years of doing this, I would have to say this was possibly the worst start to a year I’ve ever had.

Anyway, let’s hope all this rain and poor weather will turn into a cracker winter session – fingers crossed.

So really, the only thing I have to write about is the one charter, and the only reason we went was because the fisho was up here on holiday.

I explained the situation and he said he was happy to just go out, have a day on the water and perhaps learn something, and if we caught a fish it would be a bonus.

snapper
Using a Zerek Flash Minnow Wriggly, Ed caught a nice 43cm snapper.

 

With this information and low-to-no expectations, we settled on a date with a nice big incoming tide to at least give us the best chance of getting some clean water.

We didn’t need to start super early because we were going to fish the incoming tide, so I met Ed on the pontoon at 6am.

We had a quick discussion on the plan, which was to chase a few snapper on soft plastics with the incoming tide and then do a bit of bait fishing on the turn for whatever would eat the bait.

This suited Ed because he hadn’t had much luck with lures previously, so he wanted to see if we could catch something on the soft plastics.

And, as he’d come from down south where they enjoy eating flake, he also requested that when using bait on the turn of the tide, could we try for a small shark for him to take home.

Once the plan was sorted, it was time to head out to see if we could make it happen.

Remember, I hadn’t been out on the water for four weeks, so the first place we went to was where I’d caught fish a month prior.

Edward with a 45cm snapper taken on a soft plastic.

 

The water quality was fairly poor, so we tied a couple of dark coloured Zerek Live Flash Minnow Wriggly lures on, lined up the drift and deployed them, then we waited to see what would happen.

We made a few drifts for absolutely nothing unfortunately.

It looked like the poor water quality was going to be our nemesis.

Making our way back to the top of the drift line again, we arrived in water that looked slightly better.

I said to Ed that we’d do one more drift and if we didn’t get anything, we’d make a move.

So, we cast the lures back in and started drifting in the cleaner water.

Bang, straight away Ed was on with his first southern bay squire – not a big fish at 35cm but it was at least something with scales.

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When the water cleans up, we’ll be chasing a few more of these.

 

I don’t like to keep them when they’re right on 35cm, so we let it go and quickly cast the Flash Minnow Wrigglies back into the water.

No more bites on that drift, so it was lines in and back to the top of our drift to repeat it again.

By then the water was getting cleaner – not great, but better.

Ed cast his trustee Flash Minnow Wriggly, and he wouldn’t have drifted for more than 50m when bang – he was on to a good fish.

Ed was enjoying fishing with the light gear and this fish pulled plenty of string on 10lb.

It didn’t take long before we had a nice 45cm snapper in the net.

After a quick photo, we went to the top of our drift again to repeat the same process.

Ed cast his lure back in and we drifted about 200m when, happy days, Ed’s drag started screaming.

It was a nice 43cm snapper in the net.

Things were looking up.

After a quick pic, we continued on that drift for another several hundred metres, though there were no more bites for that run.

We went back to the top of the original drift and started again, and I mentioned to Ed that we were running out of time.

We were getting close to the top of the tide and the drift was starting to slow down, so if we were going to get any more fish, we needed to get them over the next couple of drifts.

We wouldn’t have drifted 100m when Ed’s drag started making that sound we all love.

Soon after, Ed had another decent 45cm snapper in the net – same deal, a few quick pics and the fish was put on ice.

We continued the drift and picked up a couple of small grass sweetlip, which were returned to fight another day.

With time for one more drift as the tide was getting very close to the top, we returned to the top of our original drift line, applied some scent to the Flash Minnow Wrigglies and got them back in the water, hoping to get Ed his bag of four snapper to take home for dinner.

We picked up a couple more grassies that were released to fight another day, and then we heard that great sound of the drag screaming again.

However, this fish didn’t play like a snapper.

Ed had scored a nice southern bay trevally in the net.

Trevally also fell victim to the Zerek Flash Minnow Wriggly.

 

After a couple of quick pics, I asked Ed if he liked eating this species and, because he liked stronger tasting fish, it was bled and put on ice with the three snapper.

We continued the drift, which resulted in only small undersized grassies that were all returned.

As it was then the top of the tide, we couldn’t drift any more and the technique had basically become obsolete.

Ed wanted to try some bait fishing to see if we could score a shark, so we put the lures away and headed to a new spot.

We put the berley pot and some bait out and waited.

Unfortunately, we caught only undersized grassies there too, so we packed it all up.

As the tide was running out and the water had turned very brown, we headed north to stay in cleaner water.

We pulled up at the next spot, the berley pot and bait went out and we waited.

While there, we had a visit from Queensland Fisheries – they checked my paperwork and our fish, had a quick chat and they were on their way.

By then, we had only about half an hour left in the charter when, you guessed it, one of the bait rods went off.

The drag screamed and before long we had a decent 1m blacktip shark in the net – yes, they do always play up a bit.

This was what Ed wanted, a little flake for dinner, so the fish was quickly bled and put on ice.

Then it was time to pack everything up, put the rods away and head for home.

On way back, the water on that run-out tide was absolutely putrid.

By 1.30pm, Ed was back at the pontoon with a nice feed of three snapper, a trevally and a shark.

We loaded his Esky up and sent him on his way.

We both had a great day.

We went out with low-to-no expectations and pulled a fishy rabbit out of the hat.

Let’s hope the weather plays the game, the water tidies up and we can get back out there catching fish.

As we all know, with our jobs and lives we are time poor, so if you can learn more to optimise your time on the water, why not – remember knowledge is key.

Until next month, stay safe on the water and, if you’re interested in our fishing tuition or want to do a fishing charter, give me a call on 0432 386 307, send an email to seanconlonsfishing@hotmail.com or check out the Facebook page Seano’s Inshore Fishing Charters and Tuition.

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