Dummies Guide to Snoek Fishing

Dummies Guide to Snoek Fishing

Postby Miles » Thu Oct 27, 2011 10:20 am

You've bought a boat and have spent some time getting to know your vessel. You have all your paper work in order and have just heard that there's lots of snoek around!! You rush off to sea, only to come back empty handed, whilst others enjoy their full quota for the day!!

"They were just lucky!!", you respond. Next weekend, same thing!! Well, my luck must change one of these days.........

How often don't you hear or see the above-mentioned scenario?

Afters years of experience, you eventually do become "luckier" than others, but considering the cost of acquiring your boat, the cost of running and maintaning your boat and the rising fuel prices, its a shame that there isn't a short-cut!!

Luckily, there is!! I'm going to explain the very basics, which if you follow, you WILL catch fish!! Being a commercial fisherman, you need to learn very quickly how to be a succesfull fisherman, or you simply don't make money!! When commercial fishing, my aim is to fill the boat with as many fish as possible, in as short a time as possible. Recreational anglers also have the same goal, to catch FISH!! So, if you guys don't mind learning a few tricks from a commercial, here goes......

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Tackle

You will need a couple of handlines. Lets start off with 2 Handlines with the breakiing strain of 52kg's, and one with a breaking strain of 60kg's. These are bought in coils, from your tackle shop. They cost about R20-30 per 100m coil.

You now need some 'haspers' to put the lines on. These are the round plastic things, also called yo-yo's. Costs about R10-15 each.

When you get home, carefully roll the line onto the yo-yo/hasper. Be carefull, as its very easy to tangle the line on the coil and then you'll spend the next hour trying to sort it out!!

Next is hooks. Some 11/0 snoek hoeks with swivels on, some 12/0 hooks with swivels on and some 12/0 hooks with no swivels. Some meduim sized chrome barrel shaped leads and some large ones. A few 'dollie skirts', with pumpkin and red being the most popular colours.

Two spinners/spoons worth getting is the meduim and the large 'wonder spinner', which is a spoon with chrome on the one side and brass on the other. Then a couple of 'dak-plaat' spinners or 'garfish' spinners as they're commonly known. Ask the tackle shop to rig them with the LARGEST trebles they have!! If you're fishing off a semi-rigid boat, fit a single 12/0 instead of trebles.

Oh, and get a sharp knife with a sharpening stone!! Always handy on ANY boat!!


Rigging your tackle

The 2 x 52kg handlines will be your bait lines. Simply tie a 11/0 hook with a swivel to the end of the line. DONE. (if the fish are very large, then go for a 12/0 with swivel)

Next up is your "lood lyn". This is your 60kg line. Thread a chrome barrel sinker onto the line, then a pumpkin or red coloured skirt and now tie a 12/0 hook, with NO swivel to the end, by using a loop type knot. In other words, the hook must swing freely.

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Now for your spinning rods. I use a kingfisher el-cheapo rod, with a penn49 with 40kg line through-out. Any spinning tackle will work, but try to use as thick a line as you can. If using thin line, a leader will be needed. Normal 40kg fishing line is sufficient, no need to steel wire. Simply tie on your 'garfish' or 'wonder spinner'. Done.

For recreational use, the new generation jigging tackle with fixed spool reels work BRILLIANTLY. I use a few set-ups, with my favourite light tackle being a 7' Shimano Trevela ML rod with a Shimano STradic 5000 reel and 20lb braid. Heavier tackle would be the Shimano Trevalla 6'6 MH or Shimano Beastmaster 85-200gram 6' jigging rod, with Shimano 6000 or 8000 sized reels, loaded with 50lb braid.

This is the tackle needed for one angler. You are now ready, tackle-wise.


Rod and Reel VS. Handline

Why not use a rod and reel? Wouldn't it work better?

When i started commercial fishing, i owned probably enough tackle to rival most fishing tackle stores!! Thought, well, i'll show these guys how to fish with a rod and reel. Surely, a good rock and surf angler should be able to hold his own with a rod and reel on a boat!! With-in the first week, all my rod and reels were banished to the garage and i started using handlines!!

Handline fishing is an art!! Watch a commercial fisherman on a commercial boat and you'll appreciate it!! Everything is done with a rythem. Its WHY commercials can catch so many fish in such a short period of time.

What makes handlining for snoek so special or different from using a rod and reel? Well, snoek are schooling fish. They travel and feed in schools. If you are anchored, the fish will be feeding at a certain depth. Once you've ascertained that depth, you can set your handline, so that it will consistantly reach that depth. No way to do that with a rod and reel. Often you'll hear a guy shout "gee faam!!", meaning "give fathoms". This is the question normally asked by the unsuccesfull guy to a guy who has just landed a fish. He is basically asking "what depth?". A FAAM/FATHOM is roughly the distance bewteen your out-strecthed arms (about 1.8meters). So, if the succesfull fisherman responds: 19 fathom, you will then quickly bring in your line and measure off 19 fathoms and then TIE your line to the boat. This way you can be sure that your line will be at the same depth as the succesfull anglers, where the fish are!! Guys who are short, must realise that when they count off fathoms, to calculate extra, becuase their fathom will be shorter than a guy who has longer arms. So, for the shorter guys, add a fathom or two to the given number and you'll end up on the same place.

Another advantage is that you can pull MUCH harder with a handline. VERY important if there are seals around, as there no doubt will be!! WIth a rod and reel, you have virtually no chance should you hook a snoek and the seals are there!! Bye-Bye snoek!!

The only time a rod works better than a handline is when the snoek are taking spinners/spoons and not feeding so freely. The continous retrieve with the reel gives the spoon a smooth action is the water which can't be duplicated with a handline. ALWAYS carry a spinning rod when targetting snoek!!

Bait.

Good quality bait is of utmost importance!! On a commercial boat, we work on 2x5kg's box's of pilchard per fisherman. Recreationally, for a group of 4 anglers, 2-3 box's will be sufficient.

Pike works VERY well, but is generally very expensive. It is considerabily tougher than pilchard, and therefor stays longer on the hook. Almost all the commercials ONLY use pike these days. Pike is sold in 10kg box's and 1 box will be sufficient for 3-4 recreational anglers. The pike is cut in half and you would use the head section as one bait and the tail section as one bait.


My wife showing us how its done!! All-round VAS!!

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Matt landing his fish

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In-da-Boat she goes......

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Young Dillon caught a SPECTACULAR 40+ CONSECUTIVE snoek himself this day!! Not many adult anglers can achieve this feat!!

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Last edited by Miles on Thu Nov 03, 2011 2:24 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Dummies Guide to Snoek Fishing

Postby Miles » Thu Oct 27, 2011 10:20 am

Ok, so now your tackle and bait is sorted and you're ready to go fishing!!

Now for the BIGGEST secret in ANY type of fishing: FIND OUT WHERE THE FISH ARE!!

Check various websites, call or visit your local tackle shop, call up some fishing friends, etc. Use all your resources to find out where the fish are!!

If you see guys selling snoek alongside the road, stop and ask them WHERE the snoek came from!!

Finding out WHERE to go is THE most important step!! Once you've ascertained where the fish are, try and get as much details as possible.

Lets say you heard there's fish at Robben Island. Try and find out where? Behind the island, in front of the island, in front of sea-point pool, by the 'brandtpad', by the 'wit-huis', etc

So now you've found out where the fish is, you're now ready to go fishing!!

The commercial snoek fleet normally launch very early and are back in the harbour by 12-2pm, so that they can sell their fish to the 'langaana's' (fish-buyers), who in turn will then sell the fish on the road. They can't come in too late, as then the 'langaana's' won't be able to sell the fish on the road the same day!!

Plan your launch accordingly. Try launching at 7am, that way you miss the long queue's at the slip!! Then also try and return before 11/12 or after 2-3pm.

Ok, its 7am and you find yourself at the slipway. Speak to the guys that are there. Find out any more information. You launch and then run for the area where you heard the fish were.

Now its a simple matter of locating the snoek fleet, which'll be anything from 20-100 boats, all crowded together in one area.

Run up to them and see what they're doing!! Steal with your eyes. If they're on anchor, follow suit and find a spot on the outside of the fleet and drop anchor. Don't worry about using your echo to look for fish, just anchor close to the edge of the fleet, making sure that you won't interfere or drift into anyone.

I normally start fishing with 2 bait lines. One set at 17 fathom and the other 19 fathom. Try experimenting with the depth of lines on the boat. Say, one guy fish's 15 and 18 fathoms, the next 17 and 19, etc until one gets a bite or lands a fish. He can then inform the others on what depth.

After the two bait lines are in the water and tied to the boat, i start working a lead line and have at least one guy spinning with a rod.

This does a few things. Snoek will often follow a spinner up and then grab a baited line or you hook a snoek and the others follow him and start grabbing the bait lines.

The way to work the snoek-dolly/lead line is to drop it to the bottom, then pull it 2-3 m off the bottom and then tie it to the boat. This way, it won't snag the bottom. You then JERKILY retrieve it by hand and throw it back out again!! Repeat until you get a bite or your arms fall off!! The guy with the rod need to cast the spinner as far as he can, then let it sink DEEP. He should then commence a medium to fast steady retrieve.

Sometimes the boats just drift and don't throw anchor. Follow suite!!

Baiting up, cut the head off the sardine/pilchard and use only the tail part. Don't bother using the head.

When you just arrive, cut some sardines up and chum with it. Works well!!

The trick with snoek fishing is to let the commercials find the fish for you!! Simply follow them and do what they do. You'll never be able to compete with them, but then you're only allowed 10 snoek per man, which is plenty anyways!!

To scare you a bit, even today, catch's of 150-200 snoek per man is still common place, for the commercial guys!! Their boats are specifically rigged for snoek and their crew only know how to catch snoek. They SPECIALISE in snoek!!

Unfortunately, very few commercials use the vhf radio. Those that have kavi-comm's use them, otherwise they use cellphones to communicate with one another. Pay attention and try and find one of the bigger and more successful commercial boats and try and stay with them. YOU WILL CATCH FISH!!!

This is the very basics of snoek fishing. There is plenty more little tricks that you'll pick up as you get more experienced. Follow these guidelines and you WILL be more successful!!


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Last edited by Miles on Wed Nov 02, 2011 10:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dummies Guide to Snoek Fishing

Postby Miles » Thu Oct 27, 2011 11:06 pm

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Re: Dummies Guide to Snoek Fishing

Postby Miles » Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:38 pm

Artificals for snoek

The above posts focuses primarily on bait fishing for snoek. This is the way the commercials fish, were their sole aim is to catch as many fish as possible. For recreationals, that are allowed only 10 snoek per person, per day, there are other methods that offer HUGE fun and great sports for the angler.

Spinning for Snoek

Snoek are voracious predators, that will attack and eat any fish they can get hold of. This means that they will quite easily succumb to all sorts of spinners/spoons. Over the years, certain spinners have worked better than others, so i'll concerntrate on the more successfull lures. There are 3 MUST have lures, and they are: the GARFISH, the WONDERSPINNER and the SERIOLA (in a variety of colours). What makes these spinners better than the rest. Primarily, the weight of them. They're considerabily heavier than your yellowtail snake style spinners and thus sink considerabily quicker. Since snoek is mostly found between 30-40m deep, the faster your spinner gets to the strike zone, the more fish you'll catch.

Pictured below, from left to right:
GARFISH
WONDERSPINNER - chrome on the one side, brass on the other side
SERIOLA spinners - these are the most successful all-round colours. Chartreuse, Rasta and Pink


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The tackle used varies considerabily, depending on what line class you fish. On the commercial boats, a 6-7' fibreglass rod (which is normally very cheap and indestructable, costing around R200) and a Penn 49 spooled with 40kg mono is a good set-up. With the advent of braid, spinning reels have become the norm. I fish with 6' Shimano Beastmaster Jigging rods, 85-200grams version, with a Shimano Stradic 6000 or 8000 loaded with 50lb braid. Simply add a 3-4m leader of 50-60kg mono and you're ready. Why the very thick leader? Well, snoek have teeth that will bite through the thinner line AND the thicker leader allows you to lift the fish out of the water, with-out cutting your hands. If i'm fishing lighter tackle, i use a 7' Shimano Trevela ML and a 4000 sized fixed spool reel, like the Sedona or Stradic 4000, loaded with 15-20lb braid, also with a 3-4m 50kg leader. If you really want a sporting fight, try fishing with a 6-7' bass rod, with a 2500 sized fixed spool reel and 10lb braid. It's still PLENTY strong enough to man-handle any snoek, yet light enough to give you a AWESOME fight!!

Pictured below, spinning rods from top to bottom:
Shimano Trevela 7' ML with Shimano Stradic 4000 with 30lb powerpro braid
Shimano Trevela 6'6" MH with Shmano Stradic 5000 with 30lb powerpro braid
Shimano Trevela 6'6" MH with Shimano Stradic 6000 with 50lb powerpro braid
Shimano Beastmaster 6' 85-200gram jigging rod with Shimano 8000 STella and 50lb Daiwa Boat Braid
STrike Force 6'5 SF20 fibreglass rod with Penn 49 and 40kg mono line
Penn 6' stand-up stick 15kg, with Shimano Mark III and 15kg mono

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6' Shimano Beastmaster 85-200gram jigging rod and 8000 Shimano Reel in action:

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HOW to spin

Since snoek are predominately found deeper in the water column, usually between 30-40m deep, it's imperative that your spinner should get to that depth quickly. Normal procedure is to cast out as far away from the boat as possible and then to let the spinner sink to the bottom, before you start retrieving. Sometimes it takes quite a while for the spinner to get to the bottom, as there might be a current running. Experience will teach you when to start retrieving. You will lose a few spinners to the ground, but that's simply part of the learning process. Think of it as school fees!! :D :D

Once you're happy that the spinner has reached the bottom, or very close to the bottom, it's time to start reeling the spinner back to the boat. On some days the fish prefer a VERY fast retrieve, on other days, a meduim fast retrieved and sometimes a slow retrieve. So, vary your retrieval rate until you've found out what works best on that particular day
Last edited by Miles on Thu Nov 03, 2011 2:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dummies Guide to Snoek Fishing

Postby Miles » Wed Nov 02, 2011 10:11 pm

Trolling

This is the EASIEST way to catch snoek!! Very little skill is needed and it's the method i recommend novice anglers to use.

Tackle

ANYTHING will work!! I normally troll with Shimano TLD25's mounted on Penn 15kg stand-up sticks, loaded with 24kg line. This is my all-round trolling outfits, as they can be used to troll for snoek, yellowtail, longfin and smaller class yellowfin (40-60kg class fish) When i want some fun, i'll scale my tackle down and use 7-12kg mono on small multipliers, like my Diawa SL20SH, Shimano Trinidad 14 or small Avet lever drag reels. If you're a novice, i'd suggest trolling only 2 rods, as this way you will have less tangles and double up strikes can easily be landed with-out tangling each other up.

Penn 6' Stand-up stick 15kg with Shimano TLD25 leverdrag with 15-24kg mono:

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Lures

The deeper the lure can swim, the better. Rapala X-rap 30 dives down to 30' (about 10m) and works brilliantly for snoek. They are however pricey. The much more affordable STORM DEEP THUNDER lures are half the price and works just as well!! What colours work best?? In the X-Rap range, i like the chartreuse and the blue coloured lures, whilst in the STORM range, the pink has worked very well for me. HOWEVER, always carry a variety of colours, as some days the fish can be finnicky. The old standby lure, the red-head in both makes also works very well.

Trolling speed

I set my lures 30-50m behind the boat, depending on the conditions. Trolling speed is usually anything from 3-6knots (5.5 to 11km/h). When you get a strike, keep on going and the second rod will normally also go VAS. Once both rods are VAS, stop the boat and throw a spinner in the direction of the fish on the lines. Let it sink very deep and then start retrieving it back to the boat. You will normally get a hook-up like this and you'll have 3 angles VAS at the same time. After boating all the fish, try and troll through the same area and see whether you can find that same school again. Very easy to get your quota of 10 a man like this.

You will also find that the fishing is better for trolling in shallower water, ie. 25-30m water depth. So, if you have a choice, try the shallower area's first.


Snoek showing on the echo sounder

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Perfect for trolling!!!

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Last edited by Miles on Thu Nov 03, 2011 2:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Dummies Guide to Snoek Fishing

Postby Miles » Wed Nov 02, 2011 10:13 pm

Video clip of my brother-in-law, Hoosain, catching his first snoek on the troll on my 18' Buttcat.

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Re: Dummies Guide to Snoek Fishing

Postby Miles » Wed Nov 02, 2011 10:16 pm

Just some random video clips i've made whilst snoek fishing:

All-round mayhem!!


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Re: Dummies Guide to Snoek Fishing

Postby Miles » Wed Nov 02, 2011 10:21 pm

Ever wondered what it's like on a commercial boat? Here we landed just over 1000 snoek in a hour and a half, off my commercial snoek boat.


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Re: Dummies Guide to Snoek Fishing

Postby riyad » Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:04 am

very interesting ....

I have tried snoek fishing once ( tag along on a commercial vessel) what an experiece - only problem was -- was a "slow day" in the bay and I only maged to catch one snoek :roll: but I will definately do it again ..
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Re: Dummies Guide to Snoek Fishing

Postby jb2 » Wed Nov 23, 2011 4:11 pm

Great stuff.

I was looking for this guide.
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