Tamar Red Bream
Autumn is a great time to chase snapper anywhere in Australia. As the water temperature starts dropping the bigger fish come on the chew.
The Tamar estuary is my home ground and is the most challenging area to catch big red I know. To catch big snapper on reasonably regular basis is very hard work. Preparation, bait collection, timing and the time on the water are all key aspects to make a successful angler. The thing that makes the Tamar so hard to catch big snapper is the low numbers of fish and the size of the estuary. Sometimes it feels like you are trying to find a needle in a haystack. But the reason that I keep fishing it is there are some very sizable fish lurking in its discolored waters. Some of the fish that I catch are well over the old-fashioned 20lb mark. I do believe that snapper up to 30lbs plus exist in the system at time to time.
Timing is perhaps the most important part of becoming a successful snapper angler, especially in relatively shallow estuaries. I try to concentrate my hours throughout the night. I find that the larger fish are caught after dark in the shallows. Where they feed in the mud based feeding bays and channels on square backed crabs. Also dawn and dusk can be great times to catch big fish. Timing also means the best stage of the tide to fish. Snapper can deed throughout the whole tide variation and in some areas will actually feed better on the run out tide. Than the run in or a tide change. This is a code that can only be found out by experience. Don't get too regimented as this can change through the season.
This is an important part of a Snapper anglers R and R. I like the period around the full and the new moons. This is the period where the fish seem to feed the hardest.
A friend of mine believes that the barometer is the most important factor of snapper fishing. He prefers a rising or steady barometer reading and it has to be over 1010. He firmly believes that snapper won't bite below this reading. The jury is still out as far as I am concerned. I have caught as couple of big fish in lightning storms and I am sure that the barometer was lower than this.
Snapper will take a wide variety of baits. W.A pilchards are the easiest way to go for convenience but fresh is always the best. Salmon, flathead, cod, mackerel, garfish, mullet, squid and octopus will all work. I find that the larger baits work better on the big fish. But make sure that you change your hook size depending on your bait size. Your hooks should be well exposed.
I prefer to use an overhead outfit as I find that you have more control over gummies and stingrays. My preferred rod for the Tamar is an ugly stick GB1706 or GB1800. Both of these rods are 7½ to 8 feet long, which allows you to do extra long casts to cover more ground and get a better spread. Both are suited for a line class around 10kg. The extra length will also help you to cast longer leaders if required. The reels that I prefer are large bait casters such as Daiwa millionaire and Luna series which are ideal 15lb reels. Both are these cast really well and have great smooth drags to deal well with the vermin factor. My larger reels that I use are Abu ambassadors 6500 rockets and 7000s. Both of these models are user friendly overheads. Although over a period the drag washers will cop a punishment due to eagle rays, smooth rays and water. I replace the standard washers in most of my reels with Jack Erskins carbon fibre washers. These will out last and out perform the standard washers by a mile. If you prefer thread line reels a Penn spin fisher is a hard one to beat.
All of my rigs for Snapper are designed by my friend Geoff Wilson who has a couple of great books on Snapper fishing. The book Snapper Success is a must if you are serious about Snapper fishing. All the rigs that I use are found here.
Snapper fishing in estuaries is not everyone's cup of tea but if you persist and follow a few simple steps you will succeed eventually.