Snapper fishing has a language all of its own. In Queensland and NSW, anglers talk about small snapper as ‘squire’. In Victoria, small snapper are ‘pinkies’; in SA, they are known as ‘ruggers’, with bigger fish called ‘cobs’. However, if you want to go to a small area where the biggest snapper are what I call ‘hooters’, head for Fitzgerald Bay at the top of Spencer Gulf.
The attraction for the ‘reds’ is a yellowtail kingfish farm. The young kingfish are housed in large, circular floating pens that are anchored to the seafloor. Regular feeding and temperate waters ensure fast growth. Feeding takes place every day, and when the feed pellets are tossed to the fish, much of it falls through the pen’s netting to the seafloor. This makes the area around the pens an attractive place for any fish looking for an easy feed.
The biggest snapper that I can verify being caught near the pens weighed in at a cool 19 kg. It was a hooter. There is no guarantee of catching snapper this size although if you take the results of Australian Snapper Championships based in Whyalla every Easter as a guide, you are in with a chance. Snapper caught in Fitzgerald Bay usually rank high in the top 20 snapper weighed at each event.
Recreational boats are not allowed to anchor near the pens, but there is no need to be tied up next to the pens. Snapper are always on the move, and the pens are shifted on a regular basis to avoid pollution. It is really a matter of finding a drop or lump on the bottom, dropping the anchor and starting to fish. Some anglers moor as close to the pens as they are allowed and drift baits back, or else cast as far as they can. Still, the snapper are moving about, so chances are they will eventually find your bait.
There is a small bay with a large boat ramp, and this is protected by a breakwater. The marina area is shallow and you need to take care when entering or leaving. Anglers have caught snapper and kingfish from the breakwater.