Commonly referred to as Oyster crackers!
Snub nosed dart are the holy grail of salt water fly fishing and are often referred to as oyster crackers or the ghost of the flats and for good reason. They are an incredibly wary species equipped with all the skills and features necessary to elude even the most experienced of anglers at times and when finally hooked provide anglers with a real tussle as they power off through the shallows with their broad, muscular bodies and strong tails. Snub nosed dart are the Australian version of the permit which is an entirely different species altogether found only in regions of the Atlantic ocean.
Snub nosed dart can be encountered from as far south as Exmouth to as far north as the magnificent Kimberley region throughout Western Australia and also from northern Queensland up into the Northern Territory.
Snub nosed dart can grow to around 15kg in weight although fish in the 3 – 6kg bracket are more commonly encountered in Australian waters.
Snub nosed dart like most dart species prefer turbulent surf conditions of northern beaches and sand spits where they feed upon prey items such as small crabs, molluscs and worms exposed by the breaking surf. Shallow areas of broken reef, northern jetty pylons and even mangrove systems will also hold reasonable numbers of oyster crackers at times.
Snub nosed dart are silver in colouration with yellow tinges present especially around the head and anal fin area of the fish. They are a thick set solid fish with a large hardened forehead and powerful forked tail. The mouth is small and has coarse sand paper like teeth and crushing plates.
As previously mentioned snub nosed dart are the holy grail of salt water fly fishing and it would therefore be considered sacrilege to kill and eat one!
The level of skill and determination required by anglers to target snub nosed dart successfully plus the challenging environment in which they are generally encountered earns the snub nosed dart the highest sport rating available and for very good reason, good luck!
Light to medium spin and fly tackle is well suited to targeting snub nosed dart from shore or from boat with light braided, gel spun or nylon lines with a breaking strain of 10 – 20lb proving ideal. 15 – 30lb nylon or fluoro carbon leaders should be attached to bright braided or gel spun lines to prevent fish from seeing the line and also to help prevent chafe offs on rough structures like reef etc. 9# – 12# fly outfits and tapered leaders of around 15 – 30lb will suit most snub nose dart situations around Australia.
As most dart species feed in northern surf breaks small crabs, molluscs and worms as well as small cut fish pieces will all be productive baits with small 2” – 4” soft plastic’s and fly’s in shrimp or crab patterns proving to be not only ideal but also great fun, less hassle and safer for young ones. Standing up to your waist in warm, murky, northern waters covered in the scent of bait is not recommended!
As with most surf situations look for deeper gutters or areas where currents converge and the dart will be there waiting for a feed. Shallow turbulent areas of broken reef are also likely haunts as the dart search for shell fish to smash open with their hard heads before feeding upon. Try not to pull too hard on the fish when the waves wash back out as this will generally result in pulled hooks and no fish. Introducing natural berley such as crushed shell fish etc into an area a couple of days before fishing will encourage snub nosed dart to begin to consistently return to the area to feed increasing your chances remarkably.As with most surf situations look for deeper gutters or areas where currents converge and the dart will be there waiting for a feed. Try not to pull too hard on the fish when the waves wash back out as this will generally result in pulled hooks and no fish. A small, constant stream of berley will also help to attract fish into your area to feed.
Rising or full tides are best suited for targeting snub nosed dart in northern surf zones although some deep water locations will also produce good numbers of larger dart during low and falling tides.