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  Gone Fishing  Fish File



Sphyraena novaehollandiae

Snook, a member of the pike family, inhabit cool southern waters around SA, favouring shallow waters to 20m with sand to weed bottoms. Its basically an inshore species and can grow up to 1.5m in length an weigh up to 6 kg. However, those caught in our gulf waters generally average around 1kg or less.

Often regarded as a savage predator, Snook is extremely fast over short distances and uses an ambush technique for hunting. It conceals itself amongst the weed and darts out to intercept any unsuspecting bait fish that comes within range.

Snook is great to eat, provided they are cleaned soon after capture and kept on ice. The flesh itself does not freeze well as it takes on an unpleasant flavour and odour when thawed. They are however extremely palatable when smoked fresh.

Trolling is the most commonly employed technique for catching Snook. This is normally done at a boat speed around 3 to 4 knots, and consists of a heavy hand line with either a paravane or a series of lead weights to keep the lure or bait down at the desired depth. A paravane is often chosen in preference to a lead line, as it not only regulates he depth at which the trolled bait or lure is travelling, but provides a better angle of the line behind the boat.

An alternative is to use several ganged hooks, with a pilchard or squid strips, and fish unweighted. When trolling, the durability of the bait used needs to be considered. Pilchards, though a popular bait, have a hard time staying on a trolled rig, where as squid is ideal due to its toughness. If anchored, using an unweighted pilchard on tripple-ganged hooks is highly recommended.

Snook bite best during the first two hours after sunrise, then gradually taper off during the day. Snook can often be caught at night time under jetty lights. By using whitebait on a rig of two small-ganged hooks, with several split-shots on the main line to weigh the rig down, and slowly pacing up and down the jetty can also bring explosive results.

Legal Minimum Length

Current Limit: 45 cm  [Previous: 36 cm]

Bag Limit

Current Bag Limit: 20 per person  [Previous: 25 per person]
Current Boat Limit: 60 per boat  [Previous: 75 per boat]

Type of Tackle

Use main line between 8 to 10kg. Heavy line is needed, due to the ferocity of the fight when the fish is hooked, as well as to protect the line, to some degree, from fraying caused by the fish's sharp teeth.

A rod around 1.8m to 2.0m is ideal for both jetty and boat fishing. A hand line can also be used.

Hook Selection

No.2 Beak-Nickel "Holdfast" nylon snelled hooks that come pre packed thru to a 2/0 hook size are ideal. Start off with a smaller hook size, and work your way up, dependant on the size of Snook being caught.

Baits Used

Fish Fillets (Mullet, Mackerel, Yellowtail), Whitebait, Shrimp, Prawns, Pilchards, Cockles, Squid, Beachworms, Octopus

Berley Mix

A steady berley trail of diced pilchards and other fish offal is a necessity. Snook have a keen sense of smell and will readily come out of cover to investigate a source of rich berley. A berley pot or an onion bag full of offal or fish scraps are both effective distribution devices.

Rigs Used

Rig No. 1
The following rig can be used either off a jetty, or from an anchored boat. Trolling with this rig is also possible, however, choice of bait is important, so as the rig's movement thru the water does not collapse and discard the bait off the hook.

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