Drifting for Snapper

By Rhett Gill

Rhett guides us through chasing snapper in his home waters, offering some tips and techniques that could also be applied to a range of other species and locations around the country. Fish on! Summer fishing in South Australia means hot glassy mornings with amazing sunrises… and of course big snapper.

St Vincent Gulf is the stretch of water between metro Adelaide and Yorke Peninsula. This area holds some great schools of snapper after the spawning ban ends at midday on December 15 each year and thousands of boaties are itching to get out there and bag themselves a big red for Christmas lunch, or just to try their luck on these fish. St Vincent Gulf is a pretty shallow gulf, with the deepest sections around 30 metres deep out in the middle and it has a relatively flat bottom. This lack of structure means that any structure you can find normally holds baitfish and where there is bait, there will generally be big snapper close by. Over the years a lot of manmade drops have been made by fisherman to create structure, including car bodies, sunken boats and even just scrap metal and bits and pieces piled up in an area to draw the bait and the fish.

Technological developments in sounders these days, including features such as side scan, has meant that a lot of these drops are not such a secret anymore. This ability to locate structure, bait and fish has led to some amazing lure fishing for snapper. For the last few years, since purchasing a boat, I have been targeting these fish using a drifting technique, while fishing with soft plastic lures and metal jigs, and boy have we been having some fun! The technique that I have found works best for me involves firstly sounding around these drops using side scan on the sounder. The aim is to locate fish close to the structure, however a good tip is to remember that if a few boats have already anchored on the drop the anchors being deployed may have scared the fish off the drops. The fish often still hang around but sometimes may be up to 100 metres away.

Once I set my line for a drift it’s a matter of waiting for the school to come up on the sounder. When the school appears on the sounder the plastics and jigs are dropped. Most times the plastics are taken on the drop and you will have line peeling off the spool. Click the bail arm over and it is game on! If the fish don’t take the lure on the drop, try a few hops on the bottom or at the depth that the fish are holding at as this will often attract a hit and good take by the fish.

The ZMan 5″ to 7″ plastics are proving to be great plastics on these big snapper, with my favourite colour being Nuked Chicken Glow in the ZMan 7″ Scented Jerk ShadZ, rigged on a 1oz TTLures HeadlockedZ HD jighead for good fish. My favourite way of catching these fish though is jigging and my mates and I have had a ball using the TT Lures 60g Vector Jigs in Dorado and Pink UV colours. In the same way we fish the plastics, we drift, waiting for the school of snapper to appear on the sounder. When the school appears it’s bombs away, with the jigs free-spooled until they hit the bottom, before they are then wound back up to around a metre off the bottom. A simple and slow, lift and drop retrieve will almost instantly be smashed when these snapper are on the chew and normally it’s the bigger fish that will grab the Vector Jigs. Using light jigging setups, normally running a small 2508 reel loaded with 10lb braid and a 30lb leader, will see these fish give a good account for themselves.

The SA snapper fishing is pretty good, but when fishing for them with TTLures Vector Jigs and ZMan plastics, the fishing can be mind blowing!

Rhett’s Tackle Box

ZMan 5” Scented Jerk ShadZ

ZMan 7” Scented Jerk ShadZ (Nuked Chicken Glow)

TT Lures 1oz HeadlockZ HD jighwads

TT Lures 60g Jig (Dorado & Pink UV)

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