Geoff Thomas: Auspicious alignment bring snapper out to play

Snapper fishing at sunset. Photo / Geoff Thomas.
Snapper fishing at sunset. Photo / Geoff Thomas.

The west coast has produced some great fishing, with snapper to 10kg and limit bags of fish averaging 3kg. The fishing "went off" last week with schools of snapper north of the Noises, off Army Bay at Whangaparaoa and between Waiheke Island and Coromandel. Soft baits were the best performer, particularly the models with wiggly arms and similar creatures. These lures don't resemble anything that swims in the sea, but snapper don't seem to mind.

The best fishing was in the five days leading up to the new moon on October 8 when a combination of the biggest tides of the month and the moon phase was ideal. But now we are heading towards a full moon next Saturday, with small tides, and this usually sees slower fishing but better weather.

A pair of good binoculars are as important as fishing tackle in the boat, as workups with whales, dolphins and birds are popping up all over the Hauraki Gulf out at 40-50 metres. The activity can be found all the way up the coast to Pakiri Beach and into Bream Bay.

Closer in, the fishing has been more sporadic but one good bag of large snapper was taken drifting along the edge of the Rangitoto Channel while fishing with pink shine soft baits. One angler who fishes only in the upper reaches of harbours has been doing well, and this fishing will only improve as summer approaches.

The west coast has produced some great fishing, with snapper to 10kg and limit bags of fish averaging 3kg. The fish are not everywhere but once located - and there is often bird activity to mark the fish - the action is hot.

Inside the Manukau Harbour scallops are reported to be covered in a layer of red weed and not in great condition, but the snapper fishing more than makes up for it. The fish have turned up in numbers, with a lot of fish between 30 and 35cm, but also some large snapper taken on the last of the ebb tide including one of 10.46kg caught by an 11-year-old girl on 3kg braid line while fishing by the tripod in the Papakura Channel, using trevally bait. It was found to have some gurnard inside its stomach, and gurnard still make up a good part of the catch but they will move out of the harbour soon.

The recent big tides also saw some huge catches of whitebait in the Waikato River, including one bag of 36kg on one day.

Gurnard are still the predominant catch on the Kaipara Harbour, but snapper numbers are reported to be increasing. Snapper have also moved into the Firth of Thames in numbers and reports indicate good fishing right through the firth. Fish to 6kg are being taken under workups and over any rough seabed, and the mussel farms continue to fish well although the smart advice says to move to another spot if fishing is slow.

The incoming tide and fresh bait like mackerel seem to be the best combination.

Barracouta have been making a real nuisance of themselves at the Mercury group of islands and around deep reefs in the Hauraki Gulf like Horn Rock. Snapper at 'the Mercs' are schooling and it important to be right on the spot when bottom fishing, or you will miss out. Casting soft baits into the shallows around the islands and reefs is a good bet, and barracouta are found more in sheltered bays so these should be avoided.

Fishing has not been so good in the Bay of Islands where cold weather has kept water temperatures a good 2C below what is needed to kick-start the snapper season.

The fish are there, but are not feeding and are reported to be full of roe ready to spawn. However, hapuku fishing has picked up as fish move in to the 200-metre line after spawning. More juvenile 'puka, often called pups, will be caught as they make the change from pelagic to bottom-dwelling fish and these small 'puka can be hooked anywhere from 200m to 50m. This was also a noticeable feature in the Hauraki Gulf last year, with 'puka pups reported by anglers fishing for snapper all the way from Thames to Kawau.

Lake Okataina has produced the best fishing since the season opening, with fish to 4.15kg reported. Two double-figure (in pounds) trout have been taken from the Ohau Channel but numbers are still well down and no real monsters reported, as is normally expected.

More fishing action can be found on the new internet television channel, FishnHunt.Tv.

- NZ Herald

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