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Squire on Fire

Ryan Dixon

For me, squire (a term used in QLD for smaller snapper) were a species I had caught reasonable numbers of whilst chasing bream in my local waters of Redcliffe, but had never got around to focusing on as my target species. As those cold, chilly, glassed out mornings became more persistent, I turned my focus to a species that I loved catching but didn't know a hell of a lot about. What I did know about squire (snapper) was that they love eating lures, they fight hard and that there's no better sound than a screaming drag once you set the hook into a solid fish.

After hearing word of good numbers of fish turning up in the Brisbane River and being limited to where I fish (as I don't have a big boat), I took the time to work out the best tides, depth and what to look for when chasing squire (snapper). Using my basic knowledge learnt from chasing other species, I soon had a system worked out where I could catch a good number of fish on a regular basis. The most important things I have found when chasing river squire are to spend the time to locate bait on your sounder, fish the incoming tide and fish where there is a double or secondary drop off. Every time I've had success I have located large schools of squire on my sounder, sitting on the bottom side of a 3-6 metre drop off, followed by another school on the secondary drop off of around 6-9 metres. Although it isn't always easy to locate fish in large numbers, I have found if you put in the hard yards to crack a pattern, you will be rewarded more often than not.

The Brisbane River is a perfect spot for those wanting to learn more, as I did, or for those who already know about catching squire.  The thing I love most about fishing the river is that although I haven't caught many fish over the 50-60cm range, there is always plenty of fish on offer and it's not uncommon to catch upwards of 15 legal fish in a few hours. Another thing that makes me keep going back is the thought of the by-catch whilst chasing squire. Sizeable jewfish (mulloway) and threadfin salmon inhabit the river at the same time of the year and there's one thing for certain, if you find plenty of bait the jewies (mulloway) and threadies won't be too far away. 

I'm sure anchoring on a drop off, berleying and floating back unweighted fresh baits would be a more than effective method of catching squire and other species, but the best technique I've found is fishing light line and casting soft plastics. When I first started fishing for squire I used the same gear that I use when I chase bream, 4 pound braid with 4 pound leader. I know it might sound a bit light but the amount of fish I hooked was a lot more than when fishing heavier leaders. I have since upgraded to 6-10lb leaders and I have found them to be plenty heavy enough.

One of my favorite all round soft plastics is the ZMan 2.5" GrubZ.  Match one of these jelly bean size baits with the appropriate weight, size 1, TT Lures jighead and if there's squire in the area they won't be able to resist. Also I find the ZMan 4" StreakZ Curly TailZ to be a perfect presentation for hungry squire, again rigged on the appropriate weight, 3/0H, TT Lures HeadlockZ HD jighead. The best retrieve I have found is to wait until your lure comes in contact with the bottom and just leave it sit for at least ten seconds. If nothing grabs it lift your rod tip up no more than 50cm and then let the lure make contact with the bottom again, letting it sit again and keep repeating. It doesn't sound like much, but the action of a curly tail ZMan plastic sitting on the bottom is better than any action you will create with your rod tip. The natural buoyancy of ZMan plastics will have the plastic sitting head down with the tail sitting upright curling and moving around with the current.

Hopefully these few tips will assist anyone wanting to try fishing for squire, not just in the Brisbane River but anywhere you may target them. These techniques have given me great success and I hope they can do the same for you.  Cheers.

Ryan Dixon

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