Big Snapper Tactics

Big Snapper Basics – Bait, Berley, Dawn/Dusk

The author, Paul Lennon, with a 14.6kg NSW record red caught in less than 10m of water.

The author, Paul Lennon, with a 14.6kg NSW record red caught in less than 10m of water.

Bait fishing for snapper is such a rewarding method, but it has still managed to find the backseat over the past decade due to soft plastic lures and slow jigs.  Many anglers have never tried or have forgotten how to use bait for snapper and these anglers are missing out on one of the most thrilling and successful forms of fishing.

It’s something I do a lot of and while it’s still a common style of fishing, there are a lot of mistakes and things you can do wrong that pretty much instantly write off your chances of having success.

The number one hard rule is that snapper are not a gentleman’s hours fish; if you’re not prepared to be out there before the sun comes up or to be coming home in the dark then you will miss the prime time.

When it comes to fishing the shallow reefs in 10-30m of water dawn, dusk periods are critical and when 80% of snapper are caught. If you’re serious, get there well before the prime time, so you’ll be anchored up and in position. This will give any reds spooked by your presence time to readjust and you can get a good berley trail going; this is something snapper respond very well to.


A few blocks of pilchards cubed up and a handful thrown over every few minutes is all it takes. This will in turn attract plenty of baitfish around the boat, which will further amplify the berley’s effectiveness.

Position yourself up current of the area you want to fish; it’s no good anchoring on one side of a ledge or bommie if the current is going to wash your berley away from where you’re casting.

With the berley going the right way snapper can often be whipped into a frenzy with baits often getting smashed immediately after hitting the water.

I find the best baits to use are fresh squid, cuttlefish, pilchards and slimy mackerel fillets. It’s important to make this bait look as natural as possible and also to have it wafting down through the water column around the same speed as the berley.

This is another common mistake anglers make as they fish sinkers way too heavy for snapper in this depth of water. If you can get away with it, a totally unweighted bait is all you need, however depending on current you may have to go up to a pea-size sinker. This allows the bait to slowly work its way down the water column and if there’s no action within five minutes of casting, wind up and throw out again.

The perfect hook for this is the Black Magic C points in a 5/0-6/0 depending on bait size. These hooks aren’t too big to catch pan-sized snapper, but strong enough to hang onto that 20-pounder too. They are also the only hook I’ve used on snapper that consistently penetrate through the super-hard top jaw molars – an area that for most hooks usually results in a bent tip and no fish.

The best areas to target big reds in the shallows are usually super nasty terrain and getting steamrolled by the odd big fish is something you’ve just got to deal with. If you go too heavy, you won’t get the bite and if you go too light, you’re going to get blown away just about every time. I find a good compromise for bait fishing is 30lb braid with 30lb leader. This will give you a good cast and keep you in the game when that trophy fish comes along.

I use Black Magic 30lb Fluorocarbon leader as its abrasive resistance is as good as it gets and it’s able to deal with being scuffed through the reef far more than other softer leader lines.

The ideal outfit is a 5000-6000 size reel paired with a 7ft rod rated 20-30lb with plenty of grunt to try and put the breaks on these things before they find the reef.

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Save the Gladesville Bridge Waterway.


Save the Gladesville Bridge Waterway is a community of fisherman, kayakers, sailors, rowers, paddlers, swimmer, commuters and residents who want to protect a historic part of the Parramatta River.

They are concerned about Sydney’s Foreshore and want the Gladesville Bridge Waterway protected from over development for the sake of all users.

Details of the proposal are at:

They have a;

Alex Bellisomo Report


What can you expect this month? Well what do you want to fish for. Off the beach's whiting, increasing numbers of larger tailer, bream, tarwhine and to add sharks and some jewfish. Off the rocks snapper, bream, luderick groper, kings, mac tuna, fright mackerel, tailer and more. In the estuary's like Sydney harbour has whiting, bream, all the above mentioned pelagic, good numbers of squid and more. check out this report.

All Rock Fishers Please Note: As of the 25th of January it has been gazetted in the Northern Beach's Council area it is required to wear a AS4758 50 or 50+ life Jacket whilst rock fishing . There is a 6 month Advisory period. That may be extended for a further 6 months. You will be notified if there is an extension. Please check out the link below for further information:

A great run of snapper of late. Seems that most rock headlands on the Sydney northern suburbs are holding fish from 33 to 45cm snapper. Some are even larger with a friend that does not want to mention caught a near 69 cm fish! distance casting with fish baits like bonito fillet, frigate mackerel, squid strips and salted slimy mackerel fillet. Spots to try are South Curl Curl end of Lumsdaine Drive near the ramp the rock ledge casting to the NE out about 80m, Dee Why approx 150m east of the swimming pool, Mona Vale approx 80m in front of the pool. These spots also produce a variety in the washes as well. Early season trevally, snapper, bream and small kings. Pilchards, prawns, squid strips, and with a wet bread and pilchard burley mush being thrown in every few mins during a run in tide. For the pelagics the 40gm Surecatch Knight in a pink, red or blue strips. The kings a 9in in Silstar Slap Stick in white. Sea gars in the x/l size on ganged hooks as well. Bream in the shallows up to a kilo. So much fun on light 3kg line. Hawkesbury prawns, pilchard fillet and half pilchards. Your beach whiting or luderick outfit will be ideal for this type of fishing. Wade the shallows at Long Reef Collaroy from half tide in to two hours out.

Nice king and a first off the ocean rocks. This was on a salted sea gar. Why salt your garfish down? Well there expensive for a start. As a spin bait you can get a lot more mileage out of your bait compared to a un salted gar.


This is one of the several snapper of similar size caught on the outing. Distance casting is casting a long way out off the ocean rocks on to a gravel, sand or flat ledge areas. Generally fishing those deeper rock locations. A casting distance of 50 to 100m out is required for this type of fishing. []

[] A Mac Tuna! great sport on light gear and not bad for bait. There are frigate mackerel, kings, tailer and the odd salmon thrown in. Metals in the 25 to 40gm size with a 6 to 10kg braid, 20-30lb fluro leader and a 3m plus rod with a quick action and your away.

On the sand Great bags of whiting of most beaches of late. Some producing more than others and that could be for several reasons. here are a few tips. 1- make sure that the water dept in your gutter is over a metre at least and preferably one and a half metres or more. 2- check out dark patches which could indicate weed like kelp and ribbon weed or both combined.that will foul up your line. 3- have a light whippy rod of 2.8m plus which suits 3 to 4kg braid or mono. A small reel to suit. 4- have fresh or live bait. live beach worms, live pink nippers preferred. alternatively small peeled prawns. Bream, tarwhine are also part of the bag. half pilchards,fish fillets like mullet or yellowtail work well. Tailer in the deeper gutters using whole pilchards on 3/0 ganged hooks.For jewfish and sharks Live yellowtail, live mullet, fillets and butterflied these bait fish as well. Whole fresh squid. Something out of the norm. Try a big beach worm bait for a jewfish. When jew fishing off the beach it is likely you will hook dusky whaler sharks from .8 to 1.5rm. Manly, Dee Why, North Narrabeen, Newport and Palm beaches.

A double header whiting caught by this happy angler. Using a two hook rig has it advantages. When a school of whiting are around you can potentially catch two at a time. My tip is to use larger than recommended hooks for this specie. No-2 Mustard reds will reduce deep hook ups of undersized fish. []


This is for the angler that may want to go out on one of my guiding trips but may prefer to be in a small group. These trips are for a minimum of two persons. If there is a third or a fourth person prices apply.

Price for two persons -$500 total. It is $250 per person. Deposit is $80 per person. Reply by email or call me on 0408-283-616.

Check out the T&C and Prices:


Target: Snapper or kingfish or Bream. I can advise you of what specie will be target a day before the trip.


You will learn on this trip: • Correct rod, reel and line set up. Including correct lures, hooks, sinkers, swivels, and all the pieces of equipment you will need on the day. • How to rig up properly for the target specie. • Learn how to bait up, how to use your lures correctly. • Learn rock structure, wave action, tides, swell direction and how to avoid a dangerous situation from happening. Step by step. • How to get more bites than the average angler. How to hook more fish. How to land the prize fish in a harsh environment. • cleaning your prize catch. • And Much More!

All fishing gear , steel spike boots,rain coats and life jacket supplied. All clients covered bu public liability insurance.


Target: Whiting and bream fishing.


You Will Learn On This Trip: • Correct rod, reel and line set up. Including correct lures, hooks, sinkers, swivels, and all the pieces of equipment you will need on the day .• How to rig up properly for the target specie. • Learn how to bait up, how to use your lures correctly. • Learn beach structure, importance of tides, swell direction, and how to avoid a negative outcome. • How to get more bites than the average angler. How to hook more fish. • How to fish on our potentially busy beaches in harmony. • cleaning your prize catch. • And Much More!

All fishing gear , rain coats, and everything you will require for the fishing outing. All clients covered by public liability insurance.

Please take note these dates will only be available for a short time so don't miss out on a great opportunity to improve your angling ability, have fun on the day, catch some great fish and simply have more fun. Just imagine you catching more of your favourite species. I am that person that wants to offer you this great info!

Cheers Alex

Mystery solved: How a Sydney man's boat ended up on a Northland beach

Mystery solved: How a Sydney man's boat ended up on a Northland beach

As Sea Bees member Dave Nash was winched with his deckie Barry Mainsbrdige from Sydney's waters after a boating accident 18 months ago, a tinge of sadness swept over him. He expected he'd never see his dream boat Kenally again - until it washed ashore in Northland, New Zealand this week.

Gear up for snapper

Gear up for snapper

MODERN technology has undoubtedly offered the angling scene its fair share of innovations capable of improving success rates for certain target species. And whilst it’s fantastic to have this type of information and equipment available at our fingertips, sometimes these advancements can pose more of a headache than a blessing, particularly for the more novice fisho looking to broaden his or her horizons.


DESTINATION: Lake Macquarie, NSW

DESTINATION: Lake Macquarie, NSW

IT'S truly a golden time to be a keen recreational angler if you live in the vicinity of Lake Macquarie on the NSW Central Coast. The picturesque waterway, which is Australia’s largest coastal lake, was zoned a Recreational Fishing Haven in May 2002 and with the removal of commercial netting operations has now enjoyed more than 15 years of continually improving recreational fishing opportunities.

Boating Knowledge Revision Quiz

Boating Knowledge Revision Quiz

This quiz mimics the actual Boat Driving Licence Knowledge Test and you will be presented with random questions taken from the actual test question pools. The General Boat Driving Licence Knowledge Quiz consists of 50 questions divided into Part A and Part B. Once you have selected the test you wish to complete click on the Right Arrow to move into the quiz.