Snapper, Big Red or Cockney Bream

Snapper or Big Red – Chrysophrys Auratus


Snapper have a large variety of names and can be called; Big red, red, reddie, pink, cockney and cockney bream, being the larger fish of the species, Red bream, old man snapper and squire, being the small fish of the species. Their scientific name is Cethrinus Nebulosus.

Snapper have beautiful colours and their colouration differ from the depths of water in which they are fished for. Typically Snapper are a red or pinkish colour with blue reflection and a silver belly.

Depending on where you are fishing for the snapper, i.e New Zealand, Victoria or South Australia they can be found without any resemblance of a bump on their head which they are sometime famous for. There is a lot of information out there about why and how to snapper achieve this “big” bump on their head, some such accusations are that the snapper bump their heads into the barnacles or shell fish to smash them open so that they can feed. Although sounds logical the scientific reasoning is due to a condition called “hyperostosis” which is a large or above normal bone growth.

Sizing of Snapper can vary from as small as 0.4kg (Squire) and can reach a weight of 9kg (big red), though most snapper are caught between the 4-5kg mark. In New Zealand 8kg plus snapper are not unheard of as in South Australia (Whyalla) they can average 9kg. If there was one place for snapper fishing it would have to be Norfolk Island where there have been records of a whopping 18+kg snapper caught.

Snapper can be found in the southern half of the continent, From Rockhampton in Queensland to Carnarvon in Western Australia and can sometime be found at Lard Howe Island. Usually Snapper are caught at deep rocky reefs and their most favourable around gravel bottoms and open ocean reefs ranging from 20-100 meters in depths. Although smaller snapper (squire) have be found to frequent estuaries and have been caught off rock ledges around their spawning time, (spring – early summer).

A Snapper diet consist of mostly prawns, crabs, muscles and other crustations, additionally can be found eating squid, octopuses, small fish and sea cucumber.

Different fishing techniques need to be used depending on the situation in which you are chasing them. Floats can be used off rock shelfs, were sinkers 60-120 grams will have to be used off the rocks or beaches. When deep sea fishing lightly weighted or un-weighted baits can be used for up to 40m of water, were sinkers ranging from 100 grams all the way up to 1 kilogram can be used when fishing in water depths of40- 100m. Baits such as; fresh cut fish, tuna, pilchards, bonito, garfish, prawn, crabs or octopus can be used.

Snapper are one of the best frozen fish and will not lose flavour or texture if frozen. Fish ranging in size of 0.5kg to 5kg have the best flavour as snapper is a highly rated table quality fish.

Record – A 112cm/16kg Snapper was caught of the rocks near Albany in Western Australia in 2014, and a 16.3kg Caught at Whyalla South Australia. Both these snappers weighing in just shy of the 18.2KG Record for Australia.


Book; Australian Fish ID Pocket guide- Published 2017- Author Australian Fishing Network

The Fishermans Handbook- Published 1988 – Author Steve Starling.

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