North West Snapper

During the Duck Bay recovery story in the last issue, we questioned the fact of the possibility of catching Snapper. It seems we are seeing an ever-increasing number of species being landed in the area, but snapper were few and far between. Sure, there had been the occasional one caught, but it was uncommon.


Commercial fisherman Matt Morgan who is also an avid recreational angler along with his crew was at anchor near the Petrel Islands just north of Walker Island and decided on a spot of bottom fishing. Lo and behold the bite was furious and up came some fabulous snapper.  
Matt is a bit of a local identity and it wasn't long before the bush telegraph got wound up and everyone knew who, where, what and how within hours.


The interest that was created was amazing and on the next weekend up to a dozen amateur anglers were chasing the same prize.

Well, I am pleased to report we also targeted this trophy fish and returned with four monsters that averaged 15lb. There is no doubt that the five hours angling endured on this day was and will remain a significant highlight in the crews recreational angling careers.

Our crew had lines in the water by 7.00am in the same area, on the low tide coming in, and within five minutes skipper Phil Pollard was well into landing his first Tasmanian snapper. With barely enough time to turn the camera on, fishing companion Shane Underwood had a hook up and within 10 minutes of arrival we had two snapper you would hang on the wall.

Our gear was nothing fancy, with reasonably light outfits for the job, we were only fishing with the standard paternoster rig with W.A pilchards. And if you ever want to see a 7ft medium estuary rod with a matching egg beater work far beyond warranty, then you should see the video we took.

The highlight of the day is undoubtably the double hook up of two huge snapper by Phil who also had the lightest gear. Having the pleasure of seeing both these fantastic trophy fish on the one line right to the boat on extremely sporting gear was memorable.

Towards the middle of the tide the targeted fish started to go off the bite and we had to be content with landing a couple of nice gummy shark and a 3kg Flathead before the largest Snapper of the day was hooked and landed by Marty Smith weighing in at 8kg.

With the tide running fairly hard we all elected to use extra weight, which seemed to be the only difference in the two rigs, and it was evident that some baits were not on the bottom. It was at this stage Shane had a take, and a good look at a yellowtail kingfish that took a whole WA Pilchard obviously elevated by the current.

We were fishing some 40-50 meters out the back in the berley trail and to see this exciting sport fish come to the surface carting the entire rig and throwing it half way back to the boat after it had finished bait stealing really gets the angling enthusiasm rejuvenated, especially when the fish is in the ôdon't see many of those hereö category. Obviously we had struck it crack on on this memorable day, but there has been numerous other snapper caught since and a very similar trip to ours had by Stu Wells with four nice ones caught in the same fashion in the same area.

The Snapper king in the Tamar River (Damon Sherriff) has even been drawn to the area and had a successful outing resulting in two fish around the 5kg mark, this proves that fishing the correct rigs at the correct time is definitely an advantage because Damon was not fishing near the area where we had had our success, there is obviously a reasonable population of the species here in the far nor west, whether it is due to the water temperature or the vast improvement in our estuaries which results in better breeding grounds, we can argue forever, but there is one thing that we can all agree on and that is the discovery of these previously uncommon fish has created a over whelming amount of interest whether you are an angler or not and it is encouraging as a resident of Circular Head to see an increasing amount of people visiting our town in pursuit of this newly discovered recreational fishery. I don't believe there would be a lot of opposition for a limit to be introduced on Snapper in the far north west, or the state for that matter and a bag of two per angler would be probably be a recommendation.

We are in custodians of a world-class fishery here in Circular Head; lets keep improving it.                  

Stu Smith

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