Kapiti Snapper – It's all in the rig!!

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This is the Snapper Rig we use. Notice the two hooks are at the end of the rig while the sinker sits above the main connecting swivel allowing for the line to run through the sinker.


Went out fishing off Paraparaumu Beach again last night about 5:30pm. The Tide was pretty much low however there was a decent amount of chop on the water and the waves getting out were quite annoying. After filling the zodiac with water and bailing it out on the beach we decided to take our time getting out and waiting for the sets to die for the second attempt. We got the front up and managed to get out – a few other boats couldn’t get out due to the nature of the waves. We were contemplating as well about getting maybe some sort of front hood on the zodiac just to repel some of the water that comes in over the front. Anyway back to the fishing. There was a large south swell and the chop on the water did make it quite dodgy – especially when we dropped the anchor down and the chop occasionally splashed over the front. We were in the magical 20m depth mark (thanks to our Trade Me cheap fish finder). It was stormy water and I wouldn’t recommend anybody in a small craft have gone out last night, unless they waited till quite a bit later when it got calmer. I didn’t drop the sand anchor down far enough and with the current (which was heading north) and southerly wind we got blown towards the reserve – we didn’t go in there but it’s worth noting to always watch and workout if you are drifting. Anyway during this drifting we decided to give our specially made (by ourselves of course) snapper rigs a try. They had previously worked well in our last fish but my brother hadn’t tied any that time and really wanted to give it a try this time. We also found a great function on our reels which we had stupidly overlooked. It’s called “free spool” and basically puts on a very loose drag allowing a fish to pick up the bait and swim away with it (it also alerts you to the fact you have a fish – previously we were relying on bites before pulling). This is very important if you are after Snapper. We had previously thought that sea fish were not brainy and basically would eat anything with bait on it. However in our readings and from our small amount of experience we now know that there are plenty of larger fish which will look at your bait and if its not moving in the correct way they will most likely not take your line. They are also test baits out – especially Snapper. They will put the bait in there mouthand swim away withit. If there is anything not right they will spit it out quickly – I can only imagine in previous fishing trips out on the coast we must have missed so many Snapper because of this. So we attached our snapper rigs (a great one can be found in the latest NZ fishing Mag) and used just straight squid. At this point I have to reiterate that we are in a small zodiac and the swell was a decent size with chop occasionally coming over the front and we didn’t know we were drifting. Our lines hit the bottom and we assumed the current was in fact heading south (it was actually us drifting). We started organising our boat to minimise the water coming over the front and then my brothers free spooling started to pull, he pulled and disconnected the free spooling which in turn lead to a fish – this was within a minute of dropping our line. Now for some unknown reason his reel would not reel in and we couldn’t get it moving. At this time my free spooling starting to move however I wasn’t paying enough attention on it. I took my brothers rod and he pulled it up by hand hoping that the fish would stay on – unfortunately it came off, we started speculating that it must be Snapper by the way it didn’t fight side to side – more up and down. Putting his rod down I relised mine was free spooling and gave it a pull. Sure enough it was a fish and I wound in. Unfortunately I to lost my fish and put it down to letting it run to much. Again we decided this must have been a Snapper. At this point we also relised we were drifting at a good pace. I don’t know if we had gone through a small school or if the drifting was the key to these quick hook ups.

We drove the boat back to 20m of water and just north of the links tower. Dropping our lines this time we noticed the current was in fact very strong and heading North- the opposite of what we had just fished when we were drifting. With the Anchor this time firmly in place we dropped our lines down – this time I used a similar rig to my brother. It meant the two hooks were closer together and you could put one large piece of squid from one hook to another (thanks to the latest NZ fishing mag for that advice). It was around this time I tightened the free spooling as it was constantly moving with the current. We placed our rods in the handles of the zodiac (they are kinda like a natural rod holder – just more tinny). My brother grabbed a third, smaller, rod as he had read about another technique which is used for gurnard. You place a Kahawai lure (one of the heavy silver ones) with some squid on the bottom. You cast the line let it sink to the bottom then retrieve, stopping and starting. I believe the key is to keep the lure virtually on the bottom in aim to catch these bottom feeders. We had no luck with this – i think the current was just to much to get a lure like this down there.

Anyway while he was fluffing around with this, his line went into a free spool and sure enough he had a fish on for a very short time. I think the distraction of the other rod lead to him not turning off the free spool and striking. A short time later he had another take – this time he struck earlier however his line went slack, thinking he had lost the fish he decided to bring it in. About halve way through winding he worked out he had a fish. It didn’t seem to be to large but he still played it like a large one. Bringing it to the boat it was a nice pan size Snapper about 35cm long. We measured it just to make sure and it easily went over the minimum size, which I must admit seems very small. Being our first Snapper of the day we kept it. A short time later (after about an hour of fishing) my line finally got some action, it felt much larger. I brought it up and it turned out to be a larger Snapper – the largest I have caught so far (I’ve only caught 4 now in my life). It would have gone about 3lb which is quite nice. I mentioned to feed the family with fish and chips we need another Snapper jokenly… by this time we had proven to ourselves that this Snapper rig is essential. Without it you are most likely not attracting the Snapper to your line, or they are taking and just getting off. About 30mins later my brother got another Snapper and this one was just a bit larger than my one. The sun started to set and the currently got stronger so we decided this would be a good time to head in.

Here are the 3 Snapper we caught with the Snapper Rig. As you can see the 2 larger ones. Up until Now we were only catching the smaller ones like the one on the left


We concluded that the strong current ( I had previously hated) infact proves to be really good fishing. The Snapper rigg is essential to catch Snapper at Paraparaumu Beach. The best depth, at this time of the year, for Snapper is 20m. We caught the most Snapper just before the sun started to set. In total we had 7 takes and landed 3. We had maybe about 2 hours of fishing. The current was heading in a northern direction. The larger piece of squid on the two hooks proves to work well, attracting Snapper – we also had a large lumotube just above the hooks, so that could have also attracted them. Free Spooling is by far the best technique, allowing the snapper to run with the bait before striking. An alternative, if you don’t have a free spooling reel, is to just loosen the drag or perhaps control it withthe bail arm or place your rod into reverse to allow line to freely go out when a Snapper takes. All in all I’m very happen with our new rigs and I’m now feeling a lot more confident that there are a tonne of Snapper along the coast at the moment – getting the technique right will mean you will catch these fish. If you don’t then you will most likely only catch the odd small one and miss a lot of fish going past your line. Strong currents don’t effect fishing in a bad way, it might actually even make it better. From what I have read fish will sit at the bottom when there is a strong current as it’s not as strong lower down. Another thing on the current is that I had no idea that the currents on the Kapiti Coast are this strong. If you fell into this current I would imagine you would not be able to swim against it at all. When we are in our boat at anytime we always wear life jackets and I have seen a lot of boaties out there without them on. I know they are in larger boats however from what I have seen of the sea I would recommend this be worn at a minimum. Once you start getting out past the beach and into that channel the currents are strong. We also have a portable marine radio and cell phone. These also should be a minimum requirement. Anyway this is just from what I have noticed when out in the boat. I think last night we had our best fishing so far with 3 Snapper. The Snapper we have caught are larger than the previous ones (with the exception of the Panny) which means the new rigs are working really well.

The Snapper Rig

It consists of putting the sinker above the main connecting swivel on your line. Then you attach your rig to that main swivel with two hooks about 40cm from the main swivel. What this allows your sinker to do is essentially moves up and down your line. It allows your hooks to float without been weighted down by a sinker below the hooks. When the fish takes the bait they can grab it without any force holding them back… allowing them to test the bait. This is the time the free spool activated and the fisherman flicks it over and strikes. This rig has proven itself to us and I can only recommend using this over standard hook – hook – sinker rigs (or dropper rigs).

This is the Snapper Rig we use. Notice the two hooks are at the end of the rig while the sinker sits above the main connecting swivel allowing for the line to run through the sinker.

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