Snapper are probably one of the most sought after and highly regarded oceanic fish around the southern half of Australia and right around New Zealand. The are great fun to catch and great on the plate.
Snapper are known by a few different names depending on their size. Juveniles are known as Cockney, once they reach pan size they become known as red bream and when slightly bigger they are generally called squire. It is not until they reach 2 or more kgs are they called Snapper and as they develop the tell tale hump on their head they become known as knobby or old man snapper. No matter what stage of growth they are at, they are still a snapper and sought after by many anglers. They are a medium to large, deep bodied fish with powerful jaws and peg like teeth (Similar to a bream - only bigger). Large mature fish develop a hump on their head as they get older. They are a beautiful pink to deep red in colour (especially when first caught) with a scattering of beautiful blue spots. Snapper can grow to 20 kgs.
Snapper are a great fish to catch and much has been written about, and even whole DVD's made - especially in the last few year about how best to catch this popular fish.
Traditionally they have been caught with bait, such as pilchards, squid, fillets of various fish such as gar or tuna. In shallower water, it is best to fish these baits with as little (if any) as lead as possible, a floating bait out the back of the boat has accounted for many a nice snapper and I normally fish this way when snapper fishing.
In shallow water it is great to drift over the reef as well, this covers a lot of ground and keeps the bait moving. In deeper water traditional padenoster rigs are usually used when they are targets along with other species.
Snapper are also an outstanding fish to catch on soft plastics which has been all the rage in the last few years. Drifting over reefs with soft plastics (5-7inch) has proved deadly on the snapper and a whole lot of fun. Cast well ahead of the drift and let the soft plastic drift down through the water zone with the occasional flick on the way down (some anglers say they don't move the lure at all and let the movement of the boat do - to the extent that some fisherman fish the soft plastic in a rod holder!).
Snapper hit hard and fight well when hooked.
Snapper are found throughout New Zealand and in the south parts of Australia.
In Australia they are found from Southern Queensland south through New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and to about Coral Bay in Western Australia, less frequent in Tasmania.
They are found right around both the North and South Island.
Snapper inhabit inshore and off shore reefs up to about 200 meters and at times will enter Estuaries, Harbours and Bays. They love reef or broken reef areas with gravel / rocky base, or other structure like wrecks. Snapper definitely school up and move between reefs coming closer inshore as the water temperate drops.