I often land fish as a result of trolling a lure on the way to or back from a kayak fishing trip, and in most case in the unlikely of spots. This is how I have come to applying the technique of trolling hard body lures for snapper in shallow water. This trip with Stephen Tapp in Whangarei, we had spent a long successful day on the water from 6am till 3pm hunting down schools of snapper out as far as 5km off in 50+m of water, our fish bins full we headed home.
(Trolling close the the weed edge, on average it was 11m deep here, most places I troll lures at my local spots the depth is no more the 3-4m)
Once closer to the coastline I set my Lively Lure “blue pillie” deep water hard body (this one dives to 4+m) I paddled along the edge of the reef structure keeping an eye on my Lowrance Elite 5HDI for any sign lurking in the weed and to avoid any potential snags as this lure dives a little deeper than the others I usually use for snapper in the shallows.
(the nice snapper took off like a rocket when it hit my lure, it had such power I thought I was dealing with a Kingfish or a large Kahawai..shallow water snapper really have some fight so you have to respond quick to stop them running you into the weed or reef)
Not long after trolling along this edge my lure was hit and began peeling line fast making me think I had hooked a Kingfish or Kahawai, my line and shimano reel are are pretty heavy for this kind of work so as to have the gear that will stop a hard fighting shallow water snapper from losing you in the reef or weed. after a short but powerful fight I was excited to see a nice snapper had taken the Lively Lure & was well hooked on the last of the 3 trebles..est this one to be a 50-55cm fish.
(Swimming the snapper before release, secured using the Fish Grips from Yak-Gear)
With My Chill Pod already full of my 7 snapper quota, this snapper was returned to the water after a few pics thanks to Stephen Tapp. If you have not tried trolling lures for snapper then I highly recommend it, its very exciting when you hook up to a snapper using this technique..you can read some tips and advice on targeting snapper on hard bodies in Stephen Tapps article on the Viking Kayaks Page (see link to the article at the end of this report)
My tips for trolling for hard bodies
1- Get a sounder to make sure you are in the ideal spot to target a snapper in the shallow weed and reef edges and have matched the right depth to suit the bibbed lure.. this will also avoid losing lures to snags, losing them is both expensive and not so kind on the environment. I am using the Elite 5 HDI sounder from Lowrance on my Viking Profish Reload and the Elite 4 HDI on my Profish 400, these are both great sounders for kayaks
2 – Have a selection of lures to choose from.. I have a variety of lures to choose from depending on the depth and the lighting or visibility of the water. Lively Lures have a very large range, my preference so far has been the Blue Pille lures but I would like to trial many of the others they offer. find out more and buy online HERE
3 – Crush the barbs for easy release – a tip I got from Stephen Tapp many years ago when talking treble hooks on kayaks was to crush the barbs or swap the hooks for barbless options.. a couple of key reasons, one if you are planing to release the fish this makes it easier and means you tend to handle the fish less, cause less stress and damage. Two is to make it easier to remove the hooks from anything on the deck they may snag on. You can take that one step further and remove all but the last set of trebles which is not a bad idea considering the lure is likely to end up on your lap at some point in the landing of the fish, I am yet to do this with all of my lures but highly recommend it.
4 – Use a net to land the fish, again this eliminates the possibility of snagging yourself on the lure and reduces the chance of losing the fish at the moment you lift it from the water ..many a good fish has been last at the side of the kayak due to a hook only just in the lip, the final head shake at the side of the kayak or the weight of the fish when lifted buy the leader/trace is enough to release the fish and leave you in despair !
(Bin full of late Autumn snapper a good result from a days fishing)
Read more about Trolling lures for snapper in Stephen Tapps article HERE, a very good read that will see you stocking up on lures!