An idea or two to double your luck

01:00, Feb 15 2013

After a busy few weeks I actually had a weekend without going fishing.

This is OK with me as we did have a fantastic weekend regardless. In fact one thing we did was to go for a boat ride from the Malthouse Rd launching area out to the Wairau Bar, which was an interesting ride with a totally different perspective.

It was also interesting seeing all the bird life around the lagoon area and the river edges.

Snapper rig
Right rig: The two fixed hook rig, the same as the one used to catch the snapper

I find that on sightseeing trips like this, I am always aware of what is happening around me - which birds are feeding and where, what influence the weather has and such things. If I stop and think about it I start to realise this is how we become more successful at hunting and gathering, whether on land or in the water.

I am hearing more and more stories of people going fishing and diving and what success or otherwise they are having, and one thing that is becoming more apparent is the number of people targeting snapper and going home empty handed.

Some of these people are doing the right things but just not managing to get their quarry. I have a couple of suggestions that might help.


I am also getting comments that I don't pass on any secrets, and the truth is I don't. Not because I don't want to but because they are not secrets. Everything I write or advise people to do is what my friends and I do ourselves. But if you feel you need a secret or two, here goes.

First secret when snapper fishing is to fish where snapper are likely to be or have been or could be. This will generally not be out in the middle of a bay in front of a sandy beach during the middle of the day in shallow water with the sun beaming directly overhead.

Next secret is to use bait or lures that you know snapper will be attracted to.

Thirdly, and somewhat difficult for some, is to fish at times that the snapper like feeding. This is not a rule but in general it will be at dusk and dawn. This will be a good starting position until you start to experiment. It will mean getting up early or arriving home late - such is the price if you want consistent results.

I have heard several times lately that people are getting runs that are most likely to be snapper, only to have the run stop as fast as it started with no fish attached. I have experienced this myself and it can be very frustrating.

Here's a suggestion for anyone who wants to give it a try. Actually, here's two.

Try using recurve or circle hooks. These require a different way of fishing but will often lead to more success than the standard "J" type hook.

To fish them effectively, leave your reel in gear and let the fish hook itself, which will usually be in the corner of the mouth. They also work very well when left in a rod holder.

The key is to not strike at all, rather wait until you feel the weight of the fish and gently pull back on the rod. This will ensure a solid and secure hook-up and should then only require getting the fish to the boat or shore in the normal fashion.

The second bonus secret is to try a fixed two-hook rig. This is a little tricky to tie but if you do a google search for the "longline knot" and learn that relatively simple knot, you will be able to make up your traces at will.

The beauty of this rig is that by fishing with two fixed-circle hooks in the same manner as above, you effectively double your chance of a solid hook-up. If you watch the fishing programmes on TV you will often see snapper taking whole baits, and that they don't always take them the same way.

By having a fixed two-hook setup you cover your bases and you will not miss as many of those runs anymore.

Possibly the biggest change will be in your attitude if you try these things, as it can feel like you are not being very active or using your finely honed skills, but you will be and, what's more, you should go home with a few more of those prized snapper.

So give these things a try and let me know how you get on. There are fish to be caught so the rest is up to you. Remember to care for your catch and for the environment and the fishery itself.

Email your comments and pictures to Mark Watson at or add your comments below

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