Most years you could write a script to describe the fish movements in Hawke's Bay. This year was different and fish came and went as they pleased while many anglers went to traditional fishing spots and missed out. Some waited for the annual bait fish runs of pilchards and anchovies and couldn't find them at the usual spots at the usual times. They came, of course, as they always do but they were late. Many had given up on them.
Fishers who made the best early summer catches were those who spent the most time on the beaches. There were a lot of fishless days though and the big snapper run which we expect from October to the end of November just didn't gather any momentum. One or two fish and that was it. They didn't come in later!
We looked forward all winter to the arrival of the gurnard. Spring gurnard runs on Hawke's Bay beaches can be phenomenal. From one end of the bay to the other gurnard invade the beaches and anglers can catch good numbers of these great eating fish. Not this year though. Very few have been caught at all. Even the boaties are moaning about their absence. Usually before Xmas and into the new year break the boaties will be boasting about their gurnard catches, not this year.
They could come a bit later, of course. A few catches have been made, giving hope to the start of a gurnard catching period, but nothing has come of it.
The snapper have been better with catches of nice 3kg to 5kg fish out in the bay by the boaties when they have found concentrations of fish. Surfcasters have struggled though, with few keepers and plenty of undersized available at the usual snapper beaches of Whakaki, Whakamahi, Waikare, Whirinaki and Westshore. You wouldn't want to bet on them being about though, as they seem to be constantly on the move.
Kahawai have saved the day and have been caught in good numbers on most beaches.
I am hoping for a late run of snapper and gurnard on the beaches. I am picking late March through till the middle of May. I will be fishing to the north and hoping for good fishing conditions on beaches such as Mohaka, Whakaki, Tahaenui, Blacks and Mahanga beach. Any of those could turn on some great late summer action. The weather will determine which will fish. I hope to hit these beaches after a good blow when the bottom has been stirred up and there is plenty of food around to lure the snapper and gurnard in. Don't give up if you are finding things a bit tough, we all are. Just keep trying and keep an ear to the ground on catches and fish movements and keep positive.