Snapper fishing from kayaks (words and images by Stewart Dunn)

With snapper season upon us, I thought I’d write a quick guide to catching snapper from the kayak. I’ll keep it simple but hopefully give people a few tips that helps them catch a few of these magnificent fish.

Snapper fishing from the kayak is a pretty good way to target these great fish. You’ll be amazed at how close to shore you can have great snapper fishing even in the busier parts of NSW.  Most ocean reef areas will hold snapper of various sizes throughout the year and there is plenty of ways to catch them. Baits, hard body lures, vibes/blades and stick minnows to name a few but in this piece I’ll be focusing on soft plastic lures.

Soft plastics are easy to use, relatively cheap and come in a whole range of sizes, shapes and colours that will tempt you as much as they tempt the fish.  I don’t think snapper are particularly fussy when it comes to lures, and minnows, shads, creature baits and all sorts of weird and wonderful designs will catch fish.

There are four things you need to keep in mind when it comes to selecting your lure and jig heads for snapper fishing.

  • Firstly when choosing your hook remember that snapper have very powerful jaws that will crush and bend any lightweight hooks so choose extra hard jig heads.
  • Secondly choose a hook size that will suit the lure but still leave action in the plastic. Lots of the hits on the lure will be head shots so you don’t need the hook point to come out right near the tail of the lure.
  • Thirdly you need to pay particular attention to rigging the lure straight on the jig head. This is one area of fishing where it really matters. Lots of big snapper will hit a lure on the initial drop so you want to make sure its rigged straight and doesn’t spiral on the drop. Presentation is key to success.
  • Fourthly and most importantly in my opinion is getting the sink rate correct.  If you get the sink rate correct your catch rate will improve dramatically.

So how do you know if the sink rate is ok? Well its a balance between to getting your lure to spend time in the strike zone near the bottom without dropping so quick it looks like a rock or so slow that by the time it gets there you have drifted past and have to cast again. As a guide I generally use jig heads between 1/12 and 1/8th weight, keeping in mind I’m generally fishing in less then 12m of water.

Ok, so now you have selected your lure and jig head lets at look how to fish them.  If there is a bit of breeze about, it’s best to set a drift with a sea anchor. This will let you cover lots of ground with your lure in the strike zone and will stop you drifting over your line before it gets down deep enough.  Cast out as far as you can and let the lure drop through the water column keeping an eye on your line. Lots of hits will come on the initial drop so be ready for it.  If you lure has reached the bottom and hasn’t been taken, give your rod a few sharp twitches then let the lure drop again and repeat a few more times before retrieving and casting out and repeating the process.

A few things worth considering here are:

  • If you a catching lots of pike then maybe you are moving the lure too fast or too aggressively, slow it down and see it that improves with the snapper.
  • If you are getting snagged on the reef a lot (you should get snagged up sometimes but not lots) then either drop the weight of the jighead or try paying a bit more attention to the drop, keeping track of how long it takes the lure to get down a particular depth.
  • Knowing exactly where your lure is in the water column will enable you to fish the strike zone for a lot longer and will improve your catches in many aspects of fishing not just snapper on plastics.

I’m not into fishing out far and wide from my kayak. So most of my snapper fishing is done pretty close to shore in relatively shallow water which has the extra advantage of being able to release any fish in a really healthy state.

Stewart Dunn, or Stewie, as he is better known, is an amazing kayak angler who spreads himself around hunting different species.  A member of the Hobie Fishing Pro Team, much of Stewie’s success in the tournament scene has been based on his Bream skills, but he also enjoys chasing Jewfish, Snapper and Kings out of his Hobie Outback.


2 responses to “Snapper fishing from kayaks (words and images by Stewart Dunn)

  1. Great read Stewie with some fantastic tips. It must be a great thrill to capture out of a kayak.

  2. Enjoyed reading your article and the simple layout of the key details. Looks like great fun!

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