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  Gone Fishing  Fish File



Chrysophrys auratus

Snapper is one fish that a lot of fishermen dream about catching. As with King George Whiting, South Australia has the densest numbers and the biggest size, in Australia. Snapper are a schooling fish, and tend to travel in large groups of similar size and age. They are extremely tough and able fighters, and will definitely test out your rig. They sit high on the edible scale, and as with any fish, the juvenile "rugger" snapper has a sweeter and tenderer flesh and is ideal for baking whole, where as the mature "hub nosed" snapper is perfect for dissecting the meat sideways into steaks, for frying or baking.

When hooked, Snapper offer a fight of a lifetime. A correctly set drag prior to hookup is crucial, as Snapper will run upon feeling the hook. On average, a 12 kilogram Snapper takes about 20 minutes to reel in, and you can tell when they are getting tired, by their characteristic bumping and shaking of its head. This sometimes indicates a prelude to another run. When the Snapper has broken the surface of the water, gaff it cleanly thru the gills if it is a large one, and use a hand net, if it is a rugger.

Winter is the slowest season for catching Snapper, but from October to April can be extremely productive months. As with most fish, dusk and dawn are ideal times to catch big Snapper, but sometimes they can be caught on or just before and after a high and low tide. Cape Jervis is an ideal place to catch big Snapper on a changing tide, as the tidal currents there are very strong on the bottom, and sometime 200 to 400 gms of lead weight is needed to get to the bottom within a reasonable distance from the boat. Another good spot is just north of Wardong Island, off Pt Victoria on the Yorke peninsula, where rugger Snapper can be caught. Coho, Chinook and I caught heaps of rugger Snapper off Wardang Island.

There is a great story I wrote called Snappers Galore, highlighting a trip off Port Hughes on the Yorke Peninsula. It's well worth the read for a better insight into catching Snapper.

Legal Minimum Length

Current Limit (All waters): 38 cm  [Previous: 38 cm]

Bag Limit

In waters of St. Vincent Gulf, Investigator Straight & Backstairs Passage ..........
Current Bag Limit (38cm - 60cm): 5 per person  [Previous: 5 per person]
Current Bag Limit (38cm - 60cm): 15 per boat  [Previous: 15 per boat]
Current Bag Limit (over 60cm): 2 per person  [Previous: 2 per person]
Current Bag Limit (over 60cm): 6 per boat  [Previous: 6 per boat]
All other waters of the State ..........
Current Bag Limit (38cm - 60cm): 10 per person  [Previous: No Restrictions]
Current Bag Limit (38cm - 60cm): 30 per boat  [Previous: No Restrictions]
Current Bag Limit (over 60cm): 2 per person  [Previous: No Restrictions]
Current Bag Limit (over 60cm): 6 per boat  [Previous: No Restrictions]

 Please Note:
Seasonal Closures do apply now to Snapper in South Australian Waters.

 Snapper Closure, 2004
A closed season for the taking of snapper exists in all waters of the State from midday 1 November to midday 30 November 2004 and 2005.

Fishers taking a snapper incidentally during these closure periods are required to returned it to the water immediately.

 Reference: PIRSA

Type of Tackle

Use main line between 10 to 15 kg. If fishing for the larger variety, use a 25 kg trace.

A rod around 1.8m is ideal for boat fishing.

Hook Selection

Chemically sharpened 2/0 or 3/0 hooks are perfect for rugger Snapper. For the larger variety, 4/0 to 6/0 hooks may be necessary.

Baits Used

Cockles, Squid, Prawn, Cuttlefish, and Pilchard. Squid would have to be one of the preferred baits, as it tends to stay on the hook better. Always make sure that your bait is fresh.

Berley Mix

A berley mix of the diced pilchards, any fish offal and pellets, soaked in tuna oil works very well. In shallow, calm waters, simply throwing the berley into the water to settle, at timed short intervals will suffice. If boat fishing in waters deeper than 12 metres, a berley bomb of the above concoction may help, or if the tide is too strong. use a fine scaling bag with a brick it in to settle the berley on the bottom.

Rigs Used

Rig No. 1
Rig 1 incorporates a figure eight knot to hold the sinker, and several dropper loops to hold the pre-snelled 3/0 - 6/0 chemically sharpened hooks. Weight of the sinker is dependant on the tidal movements of the water you are fishing in. Off Cape Jervis, chances are you will need 400 gms to get to the bottom, within a reasonable distance from the boat. The trace should be heavier than the main line, 12 kg for small snapper, and 25 kg for the larger variety. A mainline strength of 10 - 15 kg is sufficient.

As mentioned before, Cape Jervis is notorious for its tidal flow and under currents, so selection of line and sinker is important. If you intend on using 15 kg main line, this line has a greater cross sectional and surface area than a 10 kg line, so more weight would be required to keep the sinker in one spot on 15kg line, as compared to 10 kilo line. The thicker the line, the greater the surface area, more adverse effects from currents, hence, more weight required. Thinner line also allows you to spool more line onto your reel. So you need to find a balance between line thickness, weight used, and fishing tactics in drag usage.

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