Geoff Thomas
Geoff Thomas on fishing

Geoff Thomas: Well-fed west coast snapper now on the move north

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The big fish are in at 20m off Raglan.
Photo / File
The big fish are in at 20m off Raglan. Photo / File

The west coast is where it's happening at the moment, with snapper up to 8kg coming from Raglan and good fish reported up and down the coast.

The warm northeasterly conditions for the past week have helped, and boats have been able to get out from all of the harbours and off beaches such as Muriwai.

The big fish are in close too, at 20m off Raglan, but it does not take long for the "tooth brigade" to turn up. Some anglers report big makos leaving only the head of an 8kg snapper.

A normal season will see a run of big snapper up the west coast from Taranaki, past Mokau and all the way north starting in October and going through to December. A surfcaster landed a 15kg monster recently on the Taranaki coast, which will be claimed as a national surfcasting record.

The Graveyard on the Kaipara Harbour has also benefited from the influx of big snapper and is fishing well.

But some large fish are also being taken under the work-ups off Waiheke Island. The action can be found anywhere from 1600m off Waiheke to halfway to the Coromandel Peninsula, and last weekend one party caught everything from john dory and trevally to kingfish and snapper under a massive work-up. They were using 80g metal jigs, which outfished all other methods. Their biggest snapper, which was returned, weighed 9.8kg.

Channels like the Motuihe are also going well, and one party caught their limit on one drift through the channel last week, using soft plastics.

The moon is in the last quarter this week, which promises good fishing when conditions allow.

The main thing is to get the tide and wind running in the same direction when anchored. It is not so important if drifting, although the speed of drift is a big factor and a drogue helps slow the boat.

Stray-lining with light line in water only 3m-4m deep has also been working well along both sides of the Tamaki Strait. Break the head off a pilchard to let the blood and juices run out and cast it unweighted well out from the boat down a berley trail.

People in small boats fishing into the dark are a worry for many boaties returning home, and some people seem to ignore the rule that requires a light to be shown at night. Even a torch is better than nothing.

Fishing around the Mercury group of islands has been quiet and crayfish are in deep water, around 25m, but casting soft baits along the coast of Great Barrier Island has been phenomenal, from Tryphena to Cape Barrier and Wellington Head, with snapper up to 12kg caught and released from the charter boat Wai.

"There are some big kingfish off Cuvier Island, too," reported skipper Johnny Elwood. "We were busted off on jigs in 80m. They just went straight to the bottom."

Kingfish are being reported in good numbers around reefs all through the Bay of Plenty, but snapper-fishing is better in deep water - although two 5kg snapper were caught on lures 1600m off Mt Maunganui. Albacore tuna are being caught from 6500m off the heads at Whakatane all the way out to White Island, and there is a lot of gannet activity around White, with the birds feeding on small squid.

In the Bay of Islands, those anglers on the water at dawn are doing well drifting in 50m, and during the day some nice snapper are being taken on the up-current side of Centre Foul.

There are a lot of kingfish in the bay right up to the Black Rocks, but the better action is on the 71m reef and at Whale Rock.

Skipjack tuna are reported in good numbers out wide, so the marlin won't be far away.

Jigging on Lake Rotoiti has picked up, with good numbers of trout on the west bank, although at around 2.4kg they are smaller than at this time last year. Fishing pressure on the Ngongotaha Stream has been light since it opened on December 1, but this will change over the holiday period when the big browns will be harder to catch. So far three browns of 6kg and over have been reported from the stream.

Lake Tarawera still impresses with the best fish in the district, either harling at dawn and dusk or deep during the day. Smelt show up on the fish finder in vast schools, and this is where to drop jig flies like the small grey ghost.

* More fishing action can be found on Rheem Outdoors with Geoff, 5pm tonight, and on the internet television channel

- NZ Herald

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