Geoff Thomas
Geoff Thomas on fishing

Geoff Thomas: Snapper flood into channels for summer

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A 20-pound snapper caught whilst fishing in the Bay of Islands. Photo / Supplied
A 20-pound snapper caught whilst fishing in the Bay of Islands. Photo / Supplied

In the Bay of Plenty, there is still good fishing along the coast in spite of the oil affecting some parts. Some French rugby supporters enjoyed a day of fishing out of the Bay of Islands last week and it is expected to pick up everywhere after this weekend - the traditional start of the summer fishing season.

The moon is waning towards a new moon on Thursday, which is regarded by many anglers as the best time of the month, particularly when combined with big tides.

And the tides get bigger next week, which should help the snapper-fishing. This is particularly important when fishing the channels and reports suggest snapper are turning up in all the channels.

The Rangitoto Channel off A Buoy is holding snapper and, with strong currents, it is a good idea to arrive before low tide and fish through the slack water. This way both tides can be tested, as one usually produces better on the day and the first of the incoming is often the best time. You can start with small sinkers, increasing the weight as the current gets stronger.

Some people will use a ledger rig and a trace below a sinker, and both will work. But when the current is really pushing at mid-tide, it can be hard keeping the gear on the bottom. There are several solutions - you can lift anchor and drift, or move out to wider areas away from the narrow confines, like parts of the Motuihe and Sergeants channels.

Or try a heavy sinker with an extra-long trace or, with a ledger rig, simply thumb the reel while keeping it in free-spool so the gear moves slowly along the sea bed with the current. A fish will pick up and swim away, and when the line goes tight, simply start winding. There will be too much line out to raise the rod and strike, as the stretch in the line will absorb the energy. Winding will set the hook and, if recurved hooks are used, the fish will hook themselves.

Tough baits are an advantage in this situation, as you will not know when the bait has gone and pilchards come off easily. Fresh kahawai, jack mackerel or mullet are ideal; cut into small chunks for a ledger rig and strips for a running rig and trace. Squid with the skin scraped off, cut into strips, also works well.

In the Bay of Plenty, there is still good fishing along the coast in spite of the oil affecting some parts, and the fish have been in close all winter - unlike the past two years. In Tauranga Harbour, there are some kingfish around the structures and a lot of baitfish in the harbour. Some good snapper fishing can be found on the Omokoroa side.

October traditionally sees a migration of big snapper up the west coast, from north Taranaki to Northland, and long lines set from the beach usually do well at places like Mokau, Kariotahi Beach and Baylys Beach. There is a similar run of mega-sized snapper at Whirinaki Beach in Hawke's Bay and a local contest this month usually records several 9kg-plus specimens. Surfcasting for kahawai in Port Waikato is always popular when whitebait are running, and a net set for mullet will catch a supply of fresh bait.

The water is up to 16.5C 32km off the Bay of Islands and one boat returning from the tropics picked up a marlin 321km out, where the water was 20C.

Two 9kg snapper were taken in the Bay this week, but fishing is not consistent yet. However, the Labour Weekend holiday is seen as the start of the good fishing and the expected settled weather may confirm this.

There are good numbers of pilchards and jack mackerel in the Bay, and snapper will feed hard as they roe up. Some kingfish are being hooked at Whale Rock, but barracouta are still in close and can be a nuisance. Warmer water will see them move out, and more kings will turn up from the deep pinnacles where they have been holding.

Lake Tarawera continues as the stand-out performer among the Rotorua lakes this month, and jigging off White Cliffs has been producing well.

The size and condition of the trout is the best for several years. The structures on Lake Rotoiti, like the west bank, are starting to hold fish and jigging these areas should pick up as the summer approaches.

Stream fishing in the hills has been difficult since the season opened, with wet weather affecting rivers, but settled weather will see this angling improve. Insect life is prolific on the streams at Lake Taupo and the best fishing is in the rivers, with some late runs of trout expected up the Tongariro River this month.

More fishing action can be found on Rheem Outdoors with Geoff, 5pm today, and on the internet television channel www.FishnHunt.Tv

- NZ Herald

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