Geoff Thomas
Geoff Thomas on fishing

Geoff Thomas: October brings a smile to ocean fishermen

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There is something psychologically positive about the calendar clicking over to October. Photo / Supplied
There is something psychologically positive about the calendar clicking over to October. Photo / Supplied

It is time to brush the cobwebs off the cables running into the outboard engine.

When it comes to snapper fishing, there is something psychologically positive about the calendar clicking over to October and prospects on the water seem brighter every day.

August and September are the worst months for catching snapper according to surveys of anglers over the years, and with warmer weather and the traditional start of the summer season looming at Labour Weekend, it is time to brush the cobwebs off the cables running into the outboard engine and check the batteries. The sun seems warmer and the garden is coming alive. And that is without even mentioning the rugby.

Reports this week from out on the water are more positive, too.

A lot of bird activity involving gannets and terns around the Manukau Harbour entrance is an indication of fish moving into the harbour, with kahawai, snapper and trevally being reported among catches, as well as the gurnard which are expected at this time of year.

Snapper are several weeks early turning up in the harbour, but there are a lot of small fish among them. One tip from veteran angler John Moran is to keep baits moving.

Last Saturday saw the best runs of whitebait all season in the lower Waikato River, with one fisherman catching 20kg, but the next day it was back to normal with few fish in the nets.

Small schools of snapper are also turning up on both sides of the Rangitoto Channel, off the Takapuna cliffs and where the sand barges used to be anchored. The southern side of the cable line between The Noises and Tiritiri Matangi Island is also holding some fish, but with a lack of bird activity, a keen eye on the screen of the fish-finder is needed.

Drifting with soft baits worked well for two anglers who took home limit bags of snapper up to 7kg. They were fishing in 20m of water and working the lures when they saw sign on the sounder.

Straylining with large baits in close to the rocks around Tiri has also produced some snapper to 8kg.

Scallops are in top condition, so a trip to the Haystack and The Noises for straylining fresh baits on the incoming tide and a dive for scallops sounds like a good option, with northerly winds expected.

Fishing from the rocks on the northern side of Kawau Island has produced some good snapper and kahawai for local anglers.

Further north, charter skippers are looking forward to increased activity after a long winter. "It is still tough," said Aaron Covavitch of the vessel Thor, based at Ti Point, "but there is a bit of life. The birds are starting to work on baitfish, and the snapper will start moving down from Bream Bay soon. It is not far off."

He said tarakihi were the main catch and were easy to find. "They love cold water. Just anchor on the pins and use small hooks and squid tentacles. They have no teeth and love to eat worms, so a small, wiggly tentacle is ideal."

Small hapuku were also moving into shallow water along the east coast, which for 'puka is 80-120m.

The last hour of the day was the best time for snapper.

In the Bay of Plenty, tarakihi are also popular, and can be found in 20m off Papamoa and all the way down the coast wherever rocks and foul can be located among the mud and sand.

There has been a bonus for snapper fishermen in Tauranga Harbour, with fish coming from 8m of water off Matakana Island. When small kahawai can be seen working on the surface, there have been good numbers of snapper under them.

Tarakihi and gemfish are coming from deep water off Whakatane and the first kingfish are starting to turn up at White Island.

Snapper are still slow in the Bay of Islands, where the water was 12.8C at the Russell Wharf after a spell of cold weather, and barracouta have moved back in. So the runs of school snapper are expected to be late this year.

There are gurnard and tarakihi at 40m, but out wide hapuku fishing has been good - although with the price of fuel, fewer boats are venturing out. As in the Hauraki Gulf, 'puka pups - young fish - can be found much closer over the next two months.

It is worth towing lures when travelling out to the 'puka grounds, as skipjack tuna have been around all year and albacore should turn up soon.

More fishing action can be found on Rheem Outdoors with Geoff, 5.30 tonight on TV3, where Dan Carter catches his first kingfish and biggest snapper at Great Barrier Island, and on the new internet television channel FishnHunt.Tv

- NZ Herald

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