Stinker’s Fishin’: Snapper wonderland

Young ‘Boatie’ champion Nick Dayman with his giant reddie caught on fresh salmon fillet.

IF you need any convincing that the waters off Port Stephens cannot be beaten when it comes to snapper fishing, then look no further.

I’m forever rattling on about the sensational snapper opportunities off Fingal and Broughton.

Rarely do I look south to the best kept secrets of Boat Harbour and Fishermans Bay.

Local ‘Boatie’ champion Nick Dayman knows the extensive reefs and drop-offs better than most and rarely does he return home without a cracker snapper in the esky.

Nick’s methods are very similar to mine and his results are fantastic.

Anchoring over broken ground of rocky peaks and troughs, Nick sets up a rich berley trail, inviting every snapper within cooee to the party before tossing an unweighted bait of salmon back behind the trail.

As the fresh bait slowly sinks, expectations heighten in the hope that a big red will not be far away.

Such was the case last week when a 9kg thumper swallowed Nick’s bait and took off towards Stockton.

The snapper habitat off Boatie is ideal with reefs stretching north to One Mile headland and onwards to Rocky Point and Boulder Bay.

There is one hurdle if you intend to target this reef system and that is the distance to reach it if you are unable to launch off the beach.

The closest boat ramp to the north is Shoal Bay and to the south a long ride to Stockton.

Although conveniently close to the snapper reefs, launching off the beach at either Fingal or Boat Harbour does have a few obstacles.

Any swell hitting the beach can cause troubles which can be overcome if you have a friend to hold the boat while you park the truck.

Sometimes, particularly at Fingal, the sand becomes very soft in dry weather and heavy traffic.

Do not think that 4×4 vehicles do noy get bogged – they do. Another trap for the inexperienced is to back the trailer too far into the water.

All these problems are increased if your boat is over 16 ft.

After launching off the beach for many years I have experienced most of these obstacles.

The best advice I can give those who are launching off the beach for the first time is to consider the tide, the expected conditions and the size of the swell before spending some time watching a couple of experienced crews leave the beach.

It is not as easy as it looks.

By John ‘Stinker’ CLARKE

The Richardson family of commercial fishers have been launching off Boat Harbour beach for years.

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