Snapper are one of the most sought after species by Kiwi Surfcasters, and depending on where you are in NZ they can be abuntant or completely absent. As a general rule they are more readily available in the top half of the North Island than anywhere else. Seasons also have a bearing on the snapper turning up or not. Summer is the best time to target them if you’re south of East Cape. If you happen to be fishing in an area where snapper are present they will often eat almost anything.  Other times they can be annoyingly picky and ignore everything you throw at them. Common baits used for snapper are pilchards, bonito, squid, octopus, cray, but as stated above, if they’re hungry they’ll eat anything. Snapper are mainly sought as food, and they are excellent eating. Because of this the species gets hammered commercially.
They are found in all sorts of environments, from reefy weedy areas to wide open sandy beaches. Smaller ‘shoalie’ snapper are often found out in the open surf beaches, while large adult fish are often found around rocky headlands etc. Thats not set in concrete though, during certain months of the year, the big breeding fish will be caught in open sand or shingle beaches as well.
Lots of surfcasting competitions are based on snapper although due to poor catches in some areas these competitions are often now including more abundant species in their prize categories.
Photo: Chad Prentice
You can tell the difference in the color of the snapper which has been in among the rocks ( kelpies ) compared to sand dwelling snapper. Note the deep red color, and the snapper caught over sand are very pale and light in color.

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