Roughly a month after our last fishing adventure (the best snapper fishing we’ve experienced so far), Sinclair and I hit another remote ledge on the Barrier. We met at 1430 and headed to the south of the Island. After about 45 min. of hiking we reached a small bay and rock-hopped for another 15 minutes to get to a ledge. The conditions were good, if not great and our timing turned out to be rather perfect. Low tide was at 1730, and we had baits in the water at about 1600. There was a small breeze, the sea calm, the sky overcast, the views outstanding and even the birds left us alone.
For most of the day, I was confused, focusing on getting good shots, but keen to cast a bait, even at low tide I was still not doing either activity properly. The fishing was slow, very slow compared to last time, Sinclair landed a couple kahawai early on (the burley was working) and a couple beautifully coloured pan-sized snapper were also arrested.
At low tide, I hadn’t caught anything and even worse didn’t had a bite either. I cast a fresh kahawai head out and mention to my friend that the fishing is getting in the way of my photography. Things like: “I won’t bother bringing a rod next time.” were uttered right before the rod bent down. The area we were casting in was foul, lots of sea-weed and getting the fish out and away from the kelp was a challenge.
I didn’t get the hook-up, but the kahawai head was well munched away. Meanwhile, Sinclair was catching more snapper, I think there were 4-5 in the rock-pool. The light was getting more interesting, a window of photographic opportunity opened up. Still unsure of what to do, I cast a whole pilchard out far, put the rod into the holder and focused on getting shots.
Kaaaaboooom, another big strike, this time there was a hook-up. The bulky, costly camera around my neck. I felt confident to manage the fish and the camera, but fortunately, Sinclair had a better idea. The fish fought hard and went into the kelp. Sinclair enjoyed being behind the camera – he is not just a great angler/model – and moved around to get a variety of good shots. I gained line and was on top of the fish, but was stuck in the weeds like 30 m out.
Things To Try When You’re Snagged (With A Fish On)
The fish was on, the vibrations being a clear sign, I gave it slack line, decreased the drag, gave the fish a chance to swim further out/deep. I kept doing this a handful of times, in the hope that the fish will free itself. Sometimes the line is tangled in the weeds, sometimes it is actually the fish’s body that prevents you from pulling it out of the weeds.
The golden rule is not to just pull hard. Look, if the fish is on and you’re snagged, you need to breathe and keep a calm head. You won’t get that fish all the time, but patience and a clear head will often result in success. In a similar situation I once waited 30 minutes with slack line and finally a 35 lbs kingi surfaced belly up.
Back to the story, after what felt like ten minutes, the fish was still on, only I was sure about that though. My patience was running out and I was ready to pull hard. This is the last resort. Either the fish gets off or I can cut through the kelp. But hold on, there is something I hadn’t tried. It occurred to me that I was just standing on the same spot. Change your angle significantly, try left, right, higher up, lower down – don’t just stand still and hope for the best.
What do you know?, 20 steps to the left, the line was slack, I increased the drag and wound the reel until the pressure was on the fish and she was free. She went for a last run – but was tired out – and a minute later we saw the colours of a double figure fish.
All our snapper were in a cool rock-pool when Sinclair got a bigger strike. The fishing was slow, but not a single under-sized snapper was hooked and this was one of those days when even the big fish didn’t feed aggressively. Unfortunately, Sinclair’s got away, fortunately, it got away clean, the line didn’t break.
Before cleaning the fish we pondered about the weight of the big snapper. I went for 10-11 lbs, Sinclair’s guess was better. We talked and guessed for another five minutes, taking different features of the fish into account, until Sinclair had an idea: “Wait, I’ve got scales…” Seems I wasn’t the only confused one today. The scales showed 6 kg.
The hike out was not much fun, I had lost the sole of my left shoe (Al Bundy can tell a tale about soles coming off cheap shoes when submersed in water…), but our timing was top and we experienced another memorable fishing trip.
A Great Tip To Increase Your Chances To Land Big Snapper
Usually, I fish two rods when snapper fishing. A big and small rod. The small rod is rigged with smaller hooks and lighter line. I use this rod to catch fresh bait, to fish close to my feet, I often muck around with different bait types and sizes and so on. Here’s my tip:
Go fishing with a friend, fish as a team, don’t compete and get into your head that fishing has also to do with chance. If both anglers are doing the same, like fishing with squid far out, or stray-lining both without sinkers, casting in the same area etc., you limit the overall odds of landing bigger fish.
On this and the last fishing trip I kept my fishing very simple. Sinlcair was fishing two rods, catching kahawai for fresh bait, moving around and so on (the things you do when fishing properly). I concentrated on making photos and when I did cast, it was a big bait, well-presented and my rig and focus was on big snapper.
Let’s finish this off with the last photo of the day. Just imagine being out there on a remote ledge at the end of the world, catching a feed, landing a big moocher and what you see all day are views like this.
Photo Credit: Some photos were taken by Sinclair J. L. (Thanks mate)