Small Snapper on plastics

Snapper are a fish that I have had little to do with.  However, since the arrival of soft plastics, I have discovered snapper in some unusual locations; often places I have fished regularly in the past and never even thought of snapper.

Fishing a local breakwater during the annual run of juvenile salmon, I was casting around some 3 inch minnow pattern plastics.  The little salmon were hitting it on almost every cast and it didn't take long for me to reach my 20 fish limit.  It was catch and release after that and I was enjoying myself releasing salmon up to about 1/2 a kilo.

I let my next cast sink a bit further than normal and began the usual "pause, twitch, twitch" type of retrieve.  On one of the pauses, I saw the line tighten very quickly.  I struck and the fish took off ripping my light braid off the reel.  After a few metres the fish stopped and I felt headshakes.  I thought that I had hooked a big bream, which sometimes turn up at this location.  The fish took off again, taking more line.  There was a fair bit of weight and the headshakes and short, powerful runs continued.

After about 5 minutes, I got a look at the fish.  It was bright red/pink with vivid blue along the edge of it's fins a beautiful little snapper.  He was just over legal length, measuring 41 centimetres.  

I caught another smaller snapper which was just under the legal size, and I was snapped off on an obviously bigger fish which tore a fair bit of line off the reel before reefing me.

A country location I like to fish produces nice size garfish and occasionally big salmon off a rock ledge.  The water is crystal clear and the bottom is a mixture of reef and sand.  Fishing here one day, I was catching some big tommies.  I decided to try some soft plastics, as the tommies were very aggressive and attacking any bait we used.  They were no different with the plastics and were smashing 3 and 4 inch minnow style lures. 

I was watching my lure as I twitched it and 2 large tommies made a beeline for it.  Before they reached it however, a much larger fish came up from the bottom and inhaled it.  He turned for the bottom again and I hung on.  After a few nervous moments lifting him up to the ledge on the light gear, we had a nice 1kg snapper.  We threw in some chopped up pilchards and managed 2 more legal snapper before some bigger salmon arrived and wiped us out (we didn't have a hope of stopping the salmon on the light gear from that ledge).

After a bit of trial and error, I have decided to stick with the light gear even when targeting the small snapper specifically.  As long as you take your time, you should land nearly every fish.  So about a 7ft rod (preferably graphite) with a small spinning reel (go for quality here - a good drag is a must) sround the 2000 size, and 6lb braid with a 6 or 8lb flurocarbon leader.

Lures are really matter of personal choice, but the 3 or 4 inch Berkley Minnows in just about any colour are good.  Squidgy flick baits are good too (pilchard colour).

The jig head size will depend on the conditions.  Rarely is a long cast needed and I have never used heavier than a 1/8 ounce jig head.  Usually a 1/16 ounce is spot on (roughly about 2 grams).  Hook size 2 or 4.

They are not big fish but they fight very well on the light gear and they taste very nice too.  The added bonus is the number of other species that you'll catch whilst chasing the snapper.