Fishing Rigs, surfcasting information, Fishing Tackle and Components and Fish species

Snapper ( Chrysophrys auratus )


  • Sparidae (Sea Breams)

Other Names:

  • New Zealand: Bream, Snapper
  • Australia: Snapper
  • Japan:Tai, Madai
  • France: Dorade royale
  • Greece: Tsipoß┐íra, Fragri
  • Italy: Orata, Dentice
  • Spain:Dorada


  • Average Length: 30cm - 50cm (12in - 20in) *They can get much larger
  • Average Weight: 0.5kg - 2.5 kg (1lb - 6lb)*They can get much larger

Snapper occur around New Zealand and Australia with a very similar species in Japan. Snapper are golden, red, pink along the top with small blue color spots. They become paler in color towards the bottom of the fish with a white / gray underside. Color of snapper vary a lot depending on its age and habitat. A snapper which lives around a reef could be more dark red in color than a schooling or sand-base snapper which could be pale pink to red. During Spawning the color of the snapper may also change. Snapper size varies a lot with trophy fish of over 20lb being caught on occasions but most are around the 3 lb – 6 lb mark. The largest snapper caught was around the 20kg mark.

Snapper often migrate around the coasts depending on the currents and spawning and will move in large schools. Some resident snapper will live in areas which they patrol, often they are older larger more aggressive snapper. These snapper can be caught all year round however schooling snapper will move around and in some places are only caught during the warmer summer months. During spawning the snapper will come closer into the shore where there are sandy beaches and reefs. This can mean that certain areas around the world will notice better snapper fishing during certain months.

Snapper feed on shell fish, crabs and other smaller fish and therefore their teeth are very strong but blunt and act like crushing tools. Snapper are aggressive and often can be found hanging around about 30 minutes after a major workup has happened. They will feed on the natural the berley trail which has occurred from the increase in fish activity from the workup.

Snapper are found in depths of 15ft (5m) – 300ft (100m). They are caught from boat, surfcasting, landbase fishing and netting. Around New Zealand they are considered to be one of the most sort after fish for recreational fisherman. Snapper test out what they eat before committing to eating it, using their teeth they will chew the food. It is for this reason that certain fishing rigs were made to accommodate a snapper which may test the bait while still swimming. These are the running rigs which allow the fishing line to freely move without any resistance until the snapper hooks itself. A lot of snapper are missed because they take they bait, feel the resistance and spit it out before getting hooked.

To catch snapper you need a good berley trail working to attract them to your location. They will take a range of baits such as squid, soft baits, crab, shellfish, pilchard or other bait fish, and many more. Snapper are found at various depths from the sea bed upwards. It is possible to sight fish to snapper from rocky reefs when land base fishing and they have being lured in close by your berley trail. Fishing for snapper during the warmer months by boat will yield good results and during the off season it’s always worth looking for resident snapper by trying land base fishing around the rocky reefs.

Killing a snapper can be very tricky since they are shaped so that a priest or donger won’t work. To kill a snapper you need to use an iki spike and we recommend reading this article on How to Kill a snapper

Snapper Fishing Rigs

Snapper Flesh Characteristics

A highly prized fish for eating and can be cooked in many ways. Snapper have large scales so either needs to be scaled or skinned. When filleting there is little meat around the rib area so often this is cut on the angle pictured. The head and spine can be used to make fish stock or fish head soup. Like all fish it is worth bleeding straight after killing it. To learn how to bleed a fish please check out this article on how to bleed a fish.

Snapper Flesh