By GARY HOWARD
ONE aspect of fishing that surprises me these days is the number of snapper that are caught along the front of Redcliffe and in the Brisbane River.
I've fished these areas a lot since I was a kid and, while there were a few snapper to be caught, there most definitely was not the quantity and quality there is today.
Sure some of the fishing techniques and technology have change in fishing over this time, but good old fresh bait still pulls some good fish.
I don't have an answer to the question on why there are more snapper locally, but I'm sure happy there are and now is the time to get out and fish for them.
It was just last week that a memory came up on my Facebook feed of some good bream Riley and I caught out in front of Scott's Point a year ago.
I recalled it as we had been out there trying to catch some snapper but just came home with a feed of bream.
With the good weather we had last week it prompted me to say to son, Riley, let's go out and have another go for them.
With the boat in the water by 2pm we first had a sound around in front of Scott's Point looking for bait schools on a few of the smaller rock bommies just outside of the 'green zone' here.
If you can find the bait schools you will often find a few snapper and tailor.
Well we found some bait and some tailor but all were just undersize. The tailor went back in the water but we spent a bit of time with the bait jigs catching some live yellowtail pike.
These would be great bait later in the afternoon for bream and snapper and I also wanted a few for our next offshore trip which hopefully won't be too far away, especially if this good weather keeps up.
The tide was half on the run out so I wanted to get in and fish a little spur in the reef where the water flowed off the main reef area and the tide swirled a bit around the spur, which does tend to stir up a bit of food.
As usual we had more rods on the boat than we could fish with. We'd just fish with a lighter bream rod and put out a heavier line for the snapper.
Well I reckon I had the bream rod out not two minutes and the rod tip quivered with the interest of what I suspected was a bream. Carefully I picked up the rod, waited until I felt a bit more weight on the rod before I leant back and set the hook.
I fish with a light 9' whippy rod, Alvey side cast and 8lb line. It well and truly bent over as I tried to stop the first run. After a bit of back and forth tussling with the fish I finally had it close to the boat. The fight was a good one and the pink colour of the fish as it got closer to the surface suggested a snapper not a bream.
Not a bad way to start the afternoon, with a nice little snapper just bit better than legal size went into the ice box.
Well this prompted us to go a bit faster rigging up the other rods and get them in the water if there were snapper about.
Five minutes later I was on again to a really good fish that I knew would be a challenge on my light bream outfit.
I didn't get to see how big that fish was as the bait pulled out after five minutes or so. In my mind it was a big snapper.
I missed a couple more fish before Riley piped up and said why am I getting all the action and he wasn't getting a touch.
The difference was I was fishing light with a mono line and he was fishing heavier with braid and a heavier leader.
Well that quickly changed and I cut my rig off and gave it to him to use at the end of a little graphite spin stick we had with 8lb braid on it.
Not really what you would call a snapper outfit.
As is just about always the case these days Riley hooked on to a good fish that was stripping line from his really pretty fast. I thought maybe he didn't have the drag set right, but a quick check and he had plenty of drag on the reel.
Both of our hearts were pounding as we knew this was a nice fish and the head bumping down the lure was typical of a snapper.
The excitement was a bit much for both of us as I slipped the net under a 50cm snapper and just a little bit of a shout came out. Fishing does that to you.
A few snapper and bream in on the ice and the sun hadn't even set. Interestingly though we didn't get a snapper after dark, just a few bream, so by 6.30pm we were back at the ramp.
When out along the front of Redcliffe fishing for snapper there are a few things to take into account to enhance your chance of hooking up.
Without a doubt the lighter outfits we used outperformed the heavier rods we hand out. In fact the two other rods with bigger baits and heavier leaders didn't even get a hit.
My 8lb line was a bit light and I lost a few fish because it was too light and losing fish can and often does put other fish off in the area.
Lines from 6-8kg would be around the money. You will still have your work cut out for you on bigger fish but if it means the difference between catching fish and not, then the light lines win.
Next trip I'll be fishing a 6kg outfit and slightly heavier rod with a leader around 15lb.
You are only fishing pretty shallow water in a lot of cases so the fish run hard and fast. Last week we were only in 3.5 metres, hardly what you would call snapper country.
The other key is a bit of berley. A very light trail of cut-up pilchard pieces did the trick for us. They were old mushy pilchards so they were nice and oily and broke up easily. The small size pieces we cut up sunk down nicely.
I know the fish ate this as I check the stomach of them when I fillet them and all but two had the pilchard pieces in the stomach.
The gun bait, however, was small pieces of the yellowtail pike we had caught and some cubes of mac tuna we caught a few months back.
Other baits were used but with no luck. Both these baits are soft oily flesh and stay on the hook long enough for the fish to have a decent chew and get it down their mouth.
They were bream size baits on a 2/0 octopus hook and long trace of two metres or so and a small running ball sinker above the swivel.
Because you are only fishing shallow you don't need a big sinker. This, combined with the long trace, allows the bait to swing around a bit and for the fish to pick it up without feeling too much resistance.
There's lots of ground along the front of Redcliffe to fish for bream and snapper. Just look for patches of reef that will hold a bit of food and cover for the snapper.
They move about foraging for food so you may have to wait awhile or at times you can get lucky like we did last week and stop right on the fish.
Even if you don't luck on a snapper or two, there are plenty of good bream here at present, with both mornings and afternoons fishing well.