How to catch snapper with Paul Worsteling

Paul Worsteling shares his best tips on how to catch one of Australia's favourite fish: Snapper. He covers the best locations, rods, rigs, baits and more!
Paul Worsteling: Hi, this is Paul Worsteling, from iFish for Club Marine TV.

Today I'm going to talk to you about snapper, Pagrus auratus, one of those beautiful fish that just gets everybody captivated no matter where you live in our great country.

In fact, snapper can be found in every state except the Northern Territory and if someone's caught one there, please let me know.

I love these fish. You can catch them in two meters of water all the way through to 250 meters of water.

Now, depending on where you live, they're known by different names. Over in the east, we call them snapper. Over in the west they call them pink snapper. A small snapper in Victoria is called a pinky. A small snapper in South Australia is called a rugger. At the end of the day, they're all magnificent fish.

The average size range of snapper you're going to catch in Australia is around that 45 to 65 cm, 3-6 kilos, but these fish have been known to grow to a massive 40 pounds, and the old man snapper, the characteristic 20 pounder, that is what we call the magic mark.

Now, you can catch them in deep water with baits or you can catch them in shallow water with artificials, and over the last decade, soft plastics, octo jigs have just been going off when it comes to catching snapper.

When I'm fishing soft plastics, I tend to use a lighter outfit, and I reckon this is about the ideal snapper rod and reel.

I like to use a real about 4000 size, 20-30 pound braid and a 7 foot rod that's rated around 3-6 kilo.

You can throw lures on it, you can use bait with it, you can use it land-based, you can use it in a boat. It'll pretty much do everything.

Now, my favorite baits for snapper. There's just too many but I love squid. All snapper eat squid. Octopus is a gem. West Australian pilchards, South Australian pilchards, doesn't matter where they come from, but snapper just love pillies. And they also love cuttlefish and any fresh bait you're catching on the location.

So, if you're fishing for reds and you catch a yacker, you catch a flathead, try fresh bait because they love that too.

Snapper fish very well around a tide change and also fish particularly well on some moons but it varies depending on which state you're fishing in. So make sure you do your research and fish the right moon and the right tide for the area you intend to fish.

Rigs, they vary a lot too. The old paternoster, absolute gem in deep water, but if you're fishing in around 10 to 30 meters of water, and you've got a lot of current, try a running sinker rig.

I also like to use circle hooks. Generally, 4/0 to 6/0 is ideal. I pin the baits on, let them off in the current. And the great thing about using a circle hook for snapper, it tends to pin in the hinge of the jaw and you can actually let them go.

They do suffer from barotrauma, so make sure you carry release weights and make sure you vent the fish so they can get back down there. Plenty of snapper have been released, tagged and recaptured.

They're a relatively slow growing fish. Fish around 20 pound can be up to 20 or 30 years old. In fact the oldest snapper ever recorded in Australia was 40 years and eight months and it was only 93.5 centimetres long.

The meter mark, that's an absolute gem. If you're ever lucky enough to catch the meter snapper, take a pic, put him back. They're an iconic Australian species. Get out there and catch a few.