South Australia is renowned for its brilliant snapper fishing; they’re our backyard ‘go to’ species. Over the decades they’ve provided me and many other anglers with plenty of memorable fishing experiences, as well as some great seafood feasts. It’s no surprise that the annual Whyalla Snapper Championship draws crowds from all over the country; in fact, there could even be more Eastern States participants than locals. Big snapper fight hard, look spectacular and really shine when cooked on the Weber.
There’s nothing quite like a violent head shake with blistering runs on light spin tackle, and that was our plan earlier this week. I loaded the Bar Crusher with fuel, food and a small array of fishing tackle and decided to take my fiancé out for a nice arvo’ on the water. The winds were light and the tides were perfect, which was ideal considering the last outing on the boat for Jodie ended with her head resting on the rim of a bucket for the day!
I try to minimise the amount of fishing tackle I take when heading out for a relaxing day on the water. Keeping things simple and light is essential if you plan on unwinding from life’s daily stresses. I carry two rods and two reels – a Shimano Sustain 5000FG and a Shimano Stella 4000FI – matched to my favourite snapper rod, the Shimano T-Curve T Series 701Snap. In my opinion these rods are the best and the most universal snapper spinning rods you can buy off of the shelf. They are super light in weight, pack plenty of punch and are 100% quality, from the tip all the way through to the butt. Packing minimal tackle requires faith in what you take!
Both reels are spooled with 15lb PowerPro braid in yellow. The PowerPro braid is super reliable, has great knot strength and lasts longer than any other braid I’ve tested. The yellow is a great colour for beginners too, especially when flicking and bouncing soft plastics around. Watching the line and seeing subtle hits makes the whole experience much more enjoyable. I tied 10 feet of 40lb Ocea Leader to the PowerPro, using an Albright knot to minimise drag through the guides on the T-Curve.
A 12 mile ride in glassy conditions was just what the doctor ordered. A mild 26 degrees was a great relief from some of the extreme heat that’s been melting SA of late. Jodie had never caught a snapper before, let alone on soft plastics, so I handed her the more upmarket outfit. I tied on a 1 ounce Squidgy fishhead jighead and threaded on one of the 125mm Squidgy Whipbaits in Killer Tomato.
The first sounding showed a large school of fish, and as soon as I said “drop” from the cockpit, Jodie flicked the bail arm over and sent the Squidgy into the depths. Once the line slowed down, she engaged the bail arm and gently flicked the rod tip up a couple of times. A couple of solid rattles dragged the rod tip down, and before I knew it she was hooked up and losing line. In a panic she yelled “I think I’ve got one”, and I quickly headed over for some good moral support, as every partner does.
Solid head shakes and some lengthy runs signalled a reasonable fish. I was ecstatic for her! After a few minutes and with tired arms, she finally subdued a lovely snapper of around 5-6kg. It was her first snapper ever, her first snapper on plastic and her biggest fish to date. She was pretty chuffed to say the least. The large Environet sealed the deal, and a quick hug and a kiss signalled success on the relaxing style of fishing we were after that day. Jodie’s far from a tackle junkie, but she was really happy with the rod and reel, particularly with how effortless it all felt in her hands. After a few photo’s we repositioned ourselves and dropped the Whipbaits back down on top of another school of fish.
I watched the braid flick from the spool of the Sustain and then I noticed it starting to fly off at a much faster than normal rate, so I engaged the bail arm and struck solidly. This was a really hard hit and the first run must have taken some 40 metres or more. Yet again the Squidgy Whipbait prevailed, this time the 150mm White Lightning variety.
I was absolutely stoked at how well everything was panning out. The fish had long and heavy headshakes, which is different to the average school-sized fish, and the slow and steady runs were telling me that this was going to be a good one. After a good five minutes, and probably one of the best accounts a snapper has handed to me over the past few years, I managed to guide a superb red into the Environet. Understandably, Jodie couldn’t lift the fish over the gunwale so I grabbed the handle and gently lifted the net and placed the fish onto the deck of the Bar Crusher. This snapper was a pearler! I gave it a measure and a quick weigh; at 96cm it just tipped the scales over the 11 kilogram mark. This was my biggest snapper for a couple of seasons. What a day!
Over the next two hours Jodie and I landed another two fish around the 4-5 kilogram mark and a handful of ruggers under 60cm, all on the Squidgy Whipbaits.
We were rapt with how easy the day had been, not only on fuel usage, but also physically and mentally. It was a huge refresher and something that was well and truly needed by both of us.
Using quality tackle and keeping things simple often results in a successful day’s fishing. In my opinion these are the key ingredients to tempting the fiancé out on the water. What better way to unwind!