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Shallow Water Snapper

By Reece Thomas

As an angler living in Brisbane I am lucky to have such a wide variety of areas to fish at my doorstep. From skinny water creeks to numerous freshwater impoundments, large rivers and creeks all within a few hours drive of home. However, the main attraction here is Moreton Bay. The bay is a unique fishery with a lot to offer, from bream, flathead and whiting, to the usual reef dwellers like snapper, cod, grass emperor and mulloway, along with the pelagic species such as mackerel and tuna.

Moreton Bay is where I spend hours exploring in pursuit of shallow water snapper and there is nothing quite like the aggression and brute power these fish have. I use the term 'shallow water' to describe the water that I fish as it's not often that I find myself casting a lure for snapper any deeper then 5m. There is a vast variety of these areas situated throughout Moreton Bay that can be accessed easily by small boats and kayaks. Fishing in these shallow waters requires a lot of stealth, so keeping any boat noise to a minimum is vital.

Snapper are a forage feeder and also an aggressive hunter, so when using lures you are actively targeting the fish and finding structure is the first place to start. Structure can consist of reef, ledges, drop offs and gravel beds to manmade rock walls, pylons and artificial wrecks.

Gear Selection - My approach to snapper fishing is to fish as light as possible. Generally reels in the 2000, 2500 and 3000 size, matched up on 7' graphite rods and spooled with 8-12lb braid will cover this. Some days a 6-8lb fluorocarbon leader is needed to entice wary fish in clear water, however a 10-12lb leader will be a general 'go-to' and give you a little more confidence when hooked up to that larger snapper.

Lure Selection - The main focus on lure fishing for snapper is soft plastics and

the ZMan range suits every application I need when chasing snapper. Their 10X Tough ElaZtech material also means I can catch fish after fish on them.

ZMan 4" StreakZ Curly TailZ - I will start with the Curly TailZ range as snapper are a sucker for a well presented soft plastic with a strong tail action and the Curly TailZ fits this description.

These lures rigged on a 1/8oz or 1/6oz HeadlockZ are a deadly combination in the shallows and there has been numerous times where these plastics have been eaten on the drop by a snapper that has spotted it slowly wafting to the bottom. When selecting colours I like to 'match the hatch' with any baitfish present and Baby Bass and Motor Oil (UV) work extremely well in the areas that I fish.

ZMan 3.75" StreakZ - The little finesse bait. The 3.75" StreakZ are always rigged on at least one of my rods when snapper fishing and don't be put off by their size as they have accounted for many snapper up to 75cm and some impressive by-catch.

Again rigged on a lightly weighted HeadlockZ jighead you can fish these slowly to imitate a cruising baitfish or with a faster paced retrieve to imitate a baitfish trying to evade a predator. With plenty of different colour variations in the 3.75" StreakZ range, there is plenty of options available.

ZMan 3" Scented ShrimpZ - What doesn't eat a prawn? These lures have been very successful for me on a range of species and were one of the first lures I used to target snapper over six years ago. The darker, more natural coloured ShrimpZ in Bloodworm, New Penny, Houdini and Redbone Glow suit my low light fishing for snapper, as these create a distinct silhouette against dimly light skies. I have found that when fishing the shallows these rig perfectly on a 1/6oz 3/0 HeadlockZ HD and these jigheads have the strength to withstand the force of a snapper's powerful jaw. The most successful technique has been to fish these lures slowly, making sure they spend enough time making contact with the structure.

ZMan 3" MinnowZ - The 3" MinnowZ are a very versatile soft plastic for an array of species. I regularly incorporate the MinnowZ into my snapper fishing as the tail action that this lure puts off means that it can be slow rolled or hopped across a shallow reef. Baby Bass has been a standout colour in the MinnowZ and it's a close representation of the small hardy heads that inhabit the shallow reefs.

ZMan 2.5" GrubZ - The 2.5" GrubZ are a great all rounder for many species. I commonly have one rigged on a light jighead, either 1/8oz or 1/12oz and use this to 'deadstick', which is basically leaving it secure in a rod holder and letting the plastic drag or bounce across the bottom. The buoyancy of the ZMan means the GrubZ sits tail up, bouncing along the bottom, which is appealing to many fish.

Switchblading Snapper- TT Lures' Switchblade in 1/8oz and 1/4oz are a great vibration lure to use when searching ground for snapper or fishing schooled fish.

These put out a really strong vibration that can trigger a bite from an aggressive fish. The best technique is small subtle lifts and to keep in contact with the lure at all times, allowing it to pause for only a few seconds on the bottom.

Micro Jigging - Micro jigging is a relatively similar approach as using a vibration blade, except this application is more suited to deeper reefs and artificial wrecks or schooled fish you may have located with a sounder. The TT Vector micro jigs come in a range of weights to cover various depths of water and the 15g and 25g Vectors have been more suited to the wrecks located in Moreton Bay.

Scents - I have a strong belief that adding scent can help increase the chance of catching fish. The Pro-Cure range has a huge line up of which I have been able to use numerous flavours. Pro-Cure Shrimp Super Gel Scent, along with Mullet and Inshore Saltwater have been used with good success. The effectives of Pro-Cure Super Gel means that you only need to apply a small amount to the lure to achieve a result.

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