Bottom Bouncing

By Jamie Crawford

Although it’s not at the cutting-edge of sport fishing, bottom bouncing is still a productive way of securing some fresh fish for the table. Our family loves fresh fish, and we have some pretty tasty species living around our wide reefs here in SA.

Our most popularly targeted reef fish here in South Australia are red snapper, followed by pink snapper and queen snapper. All three species of snapper are easily found on heavy reef, and all cook-up fantastic on the table.

It’s a fairly simple method for targeting these fish, and it’s a method which hasn’t changed too much in recent years. We look for a significant reef system in the 30 to 70m depth range, and we sound-out obvious ledges and bumps over this reef, looking for signs of life on our sounder. On our sounder we’re looking for markings of fish sitting pretty close to this structure; usually within 2 to 3m of the bottom. Sometimes these appear as just a few scattered soundings, other times we pick up a dense school.

With each of these species we have a good bite period at first light, and again around sunset. We do get some nice fish during the middle of the day too, especially around the change of the tide, but in general the fish are slower to bite. Once we have found our chosen reef and there appears to be life on the bottom, we drop a standard paternoster rig with two 8/0 hooks, and around 6oz of lead to the bottom. Because we see a lot of smaller reef fish in the same area, the use of tougher baits such as squid and octopus is an advantage.

We usually fish on the drift; we don’t drop the anchor. This allows us to cover ground and locate a school of fish, provided the speed of drift isn’t too high. Once our baits hit the bottom, we usually lift the baits about a metre or two from the bottom, to prevent getting fouled on the reef below. Then it’s a case of slowly lifting and dropping the rod tip. Keeping the baits on the move can help nearby reef fish see your baits.

When you find a school of red snapper, the action can be thick and fast, and while they don’t fight as hard as a pink or queen snapper, they’re still fun to catch. Queen snapper are the toughest of these three snapper species.

As for tackle selection, braided line is a must out here. The sensitivity and feel offered by braid surpasses mono by a long shot. My favourite bottom bouncing outfit at the moment is a Saragosa 6000 together with a Revolution Offshore rod rated at 6 – 12kg with 40lb Power Pro braid. This rod would be the best I’ve used for red snapper, offering a sensitive tip but plenty of pulling power down low. Red snapper often have a soft fumbling bite, and being able to detect and react to these soft bites results in more fish in the ice box.

When we have a day bottom bouncing, we take plenty of ice and we look after the fish we catch. Bottom bouncing is a fun way to spend a day on the water, and it’s our go-to technique when we’re looking to secure a feed for the table.