Hotspot: That’s why they call it ‘Red’cliffe

Landing big models like this from a kayak can be a real challenge, which makes this fishery more exciting.

by Reece Thomas •

If you are a kayak fisher that has ever dreamt about catching big snapper in shallow water in Queensland, then you may have ventured to Redcliffe, or put this location on your bucket list.

Situated on the north side of Brisbane and bordering the waters of Moreton Bay, Redcliffe is a renowned snapper fishery. For the kayak angler wanting to target snapper, it offers easy access and relatively sheltered waters.

Google earth is the best tool for finding ground and makes it easy to locate an easy launch spot. From a bird’s eye view, many of the shallow reefs that litter the foreshore from Scarborough all the way to Woody point Jetty revel themselves and from this you can structure a plan on where to fish.

Kayaks offer stealth, which is one of the most important factors when targeting shallow water snapper. Quite often, a kayaker can quietly sneak around the shallow waters and go undetected by fish, giving the angler an ultimate advantage.

Picking the right wind to fish these areas is extremely important to consider before venturing out on a trip. Anything that     blows under 10knots from the southwest, west or northwest will leave sheltered waters protected by the mainland. However, winds that travel from the northern, eastern and southern parts of the bay should be taken with caution. Wind direction and speed will play a big part in your travel times and how you set up a drift along structure.

Sunrise and sunset are prime times to target fish in these shallow waters, but make you have appropriate navigational lighting if kayaking before or after sunset.

When there is little or no rainfall and moderate winds, the waters become extremely clear in the bay, which can be a great visual insight to what structure you’re actually fishing.

Josh King loves getting into Reddy snapper under paddle power, and as you can see, you don’t have to paddle far.
The by-catch alone makes this fishery very rewarding.
Big snapper are a real possibility in these waters, so it pays to be ready.
The author believes practising catch and release where possible is an important step in ensuring there’s stocks for future generations.

There are numerous methods to catch snapper and other species off Redcliffe, but lightly-weighted plastics from 2.5-4” fished close to the reefs on light leaders is a successful approach, while keeping a close eye for any bait movement or surface activity as well. Another common method that is effectively used by kayakers is to troll hardbodied lures that dive from 2-4m over rubble patches and alongside reef edges.

Once a big snapper is hooked in shallow water, they will fight dirty, quite often peeling line off a spool and heading for the nearest bit of structure. It becomes a tug of war with the fish, and a matter of getting everything in your favour to stop it from winning the battle. Trophy snapper of 90cm+ call these waters home, and it’s not uncommon to hook fish in excess of 70cm once you have an understanding of the fishery.

A good landing net will make landing these big snapper a lot easier when they surface beside the kayak, and will ensure better care for the fish if you plan on catch and release.

By-catch you’re likely to encounter while fishing Redcliffe is plentiful, with yellowfin bream, grass sweetlip, estuary cod and mulloway all showing up from time to time.

These fish can be targeted year round, but snapper activity will increase from May through until September, with an abundance of fish moving about the reefs during this time.

Redcliffe is such a unique snapper fishery that we have on offer in South East Queensland to both kayak and boat anglers. Try to keep this in mind when targeting the big fish that call these waters home and practice catch and release where possible, so our future generations can enjoy the fishing we are experiencing today.