Man Sea Kayak Fishing


Not many people associate the colder months with bonza kayak fishing. But for me, there is no better time to get out on the water and lob some baits out for some big fish. In the colder months, what better target to go after than some whopping Snapper lurking offshore,

Snapper are a great fish to target because they respond to so many different fishing styles and techniques. You can go with lures if you want but I prefer some good pilchards for bait and a bag of berley and I am ready to rock and roll. So, on a clear August morning that is what I did.


Getting the right bait has always been a priority of mine. When I started fishing for Snapper in the 90s, I would often hear the “bigger bait, bigger Snapper” mantra. But I soon questioned the logic of this. You can throw big bait into a berley trail and cash in on the free for all but I have always found that the biggest Snapper prefer quality over size. Especially when you are using pilchards. They quickly go soft if you’re not careful and are no good to anyone. Basically, if I am going out for Snapper, I want to give them pilchards I would happy eating myself.


In the summer, I will usually not bother with berley, preferring to rely on my fishfinder and drifting over a wider area. But in the winter, the weather can get a little bit tasty, so often I will go ahead and anchor up with a berley bag a couple of metres below the yak and establish a burley trail to bring the Snapper into me. The secret with berley is to build a strong trail by berleying a little bit at a time but very often. I use chook pellets but you can also use white bread or prawn shells.

Then I will flick a lightly weighted bait out in the same direction as the berley trail and let it sink to a depth that is just on the edge of disappearing. As soon as it hits this depth in an established berley trail, Snapper will go ahead and pick it off all day.

In deeper water (over 30m), it can be a little trickier knowing where your bait needs to be. The Snapper might be after something a little bit deeper. I would just go ahead and run two rigs. Keep one lightly weighted and load one up a little heavier and drop it closer the kayak closer to the source of the berley. This should cover all the bases.


I use a twin gang of 4/0 tailor hooks. However, you have quite a lot of leeway when it comes to hook sizes. I know those who go for suicide hooks or French hooks, ranging in sizes from 3/0, 4/0, 5/0, and 6/0. For me, the hook itself isn’t as important as the presentation of the bait on the hook. You want to get your pilchard to bury the hook and hide it well, with nothing more than the point on show. Any more than that and they will be wise to it.


When you get a bite, you want to let them run a little bit before you set. I use a spinning reel with the drag backed off to let them run, then start the fight once they have gone a few metres.

One word of advice, as an experienced yak fisho that has made his fair share of blunders. If you are running treble hooks or even a twin gang, make sure you have jaw grips. I can’t tell you how many times I landed a fish with trebles, only to get stuck with a hook when I got it into the kayak. In such a confined space with a large fish, it can very quickly descend into chaos.

There you have it, some of my tricks of the trade for smashing Snapper in the cooler months. Get the yaks out and cash in on my favourite time of the year for taking these beauties.


Do you have any advice for taking Snapper from a kayak in the winter? Let us know in the comments section below.

Jackson Williams
Jackson Williams

Jackson Williams has been fishing around Australia for 20 years and loves his home region of far north Queensland.