Young Narooma angler Sam Gschwend caught the fish of his lifetime so far when he hauled in a massive 84.5cm snapper while fishing on Tuross Lake on Saturday night, October 7.
The catch is even more remarkable given it was caught inside an estuary and snapper of these size are a rarity on the Far South Coast even out in the open ocean.
“I still can’t believe it myself,” Sam said.
It’s no surprise that Sam has been back on the water trying for another jewfish, or big snapper, and spoke to us on Tuesday afternoon from his fishing boat anchored in the same spot. He did get a jewfish in the same spot three nights before the snapper.
At age 18, Sam is already a very proficient angler working as a deckhand on the Narooma charter boat Playstation with young skipper Nick Cowley.
He said he hooked the big fish at around 10.30pm on Saturday night while targeting jewfish out in front of the Tuross boatsheds near the mouth of estuary at the start of the run-in tide, using butterflied slimey mackerel and yakkas.
“I called it for a 10kg jewie and didn’t suspect anything else,” he said, adding he and his fishing buddy Justin were very surprised to see the red tinge when they netted the fish in the dark.
They did notice the fish was quite silvery and suspect the big fish might have just swam in through the estuary mouth and could have possibly been in the waterway to spawn, as he heard snapper did breed at this time of year, and it was the full moon.
He decided to keep the big snapper or “nobody would have believed me”.
Sam’s snapper catch was the talk of the town in Tuross Head and we asked Tuross Head Fishing Club secretary Max Castle whether it was the biggest snapper he had heard of.
According to club records, after changing from weight to length, the current longest snapper was 66cm and this was caught outside.
“Estuary snapper never get any size!!” Mr Castle said. “Remarkable catch - a one off I would suggest!”
His mum Denise Lawson was justifiably proud.
“Have to be the biggest ever caught in there I’d say no body in this area had ever seen anything like it,” she said.
This massive snapper cements Tuross Lake as a fishing destination for big fish. The Narooma News earlier this year in January reported on a big 103cm flathead caught at Tuross, with a plea to release big dusky flathead.