Here's a story that's not only for the snapper anglers looking for something new, but will hopefully also inspire other anglers to explore new ways to freshen up their fishing.
A few years ago I was hooked on thinking outside the box when it came to my fishing. Working at Fishing Tackle Australia meant there was no shortage of different lures to experiment with. My experimentation was mostly just a bit of fun. It was more about fishing with something weird for the challenge, rather than thinking it might be the next big thing. Often the lures that worked best were the relics from the bottom of a random tub somewhere - the type that had been discontinued for years and not another one was left in existence!
There was one experiment, however, that was different, and it has stayed with me. Not only did it work, it became one of my go-to snapper techniques for the last few years.
It all began one day at work when we received some new spinnerbaits that we wanted to try out. I'd never really fished much with spinnerbaits. When it came to freshwater fishing, I preferred to use either surface lures or hardbodies. I had been trying a lot of new things offshore though, and I couldn't see why a spinnerbait wouldn't work in the salt. I knew that fishing them in the salt wouldn't provide any useful info for the shop on how they worked in the fresh, but I was determined to try my idea anyway.
The next time I was offshore, I started throwing the spinnerbait around, assuming it would have to work in the wash for tailor and kingfish. I got a tailor on one of the first few casts I made with it, and then started fishing off the front of the wash targeting a school of rat kings. I was getting plenty of follows but few takes, so after a few casts I let it drop down under the school and felt a telling 'tick' on the loose line. I lifted the rod and watched it load up, and the line tore across the front of the wash.
After a bit of a sketchy fight, I was able to land a solid 4kg snapper only half an hour into my spinnerbait experiment. And that snapper wasn't the only one that was hooked that day. I caught a number of snapper in that session, and I was instantly addicted - hook, line and spinnerbait. Nothing enhances your fishing more than confidence, and nothing boosts your confidence in a technique more than immediate debut success. It wasn't long before spinnerbaits had replaced soft plastics in my snapper kit.
Over the last couple of years I haven't really found a specific technique or retrieve required for catching snapper on spinnerbaits. I haven't really had to. If you've used soft plastics for catching reds you can pretty much transfer your technique straight over to spinnerbaits.
Spinnerbaits can be used in basically the same situations that you would use soft plastics for snapper. You can fish them over shallow inshore reefs, from headlands and island washes, and over rubble beds and deep reefs. I have no doubt they would work on the mussel farms in New Zealand too.
When luring snapper, you need to get your offering down in the zone, generally the bottom third (it doesn't have to be right on the bottom), and vary your retrieve. Fast, slow, up and down or in a straight line. These are all fundamentals of fishing with most lures, and are also applicable with spinnerbaits.
The type of spinnerbaits I've used haven't varied that much. The snapper responded to the first spinnerbait I threw in the salt, so I haven't found the need to vary too widely. I have also brought chatterbaits into the same fold in my fishing though, with similar success.