Geoff Thomas
Geoff Thomas on fishing

Geoff Thomas: Lousy summer gives us best snapper

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Kahawai. Photo / Duncan Brown
Kahawai. Photo / Duncan Brown

There are a lot of kahawai around, and the sight of birds wheeling and diving is a common one on most days.The weather, the weather, the weather - it's usually prefaced by the word bloody when discussed among fishermen this summer.

It seems a long time since there were more than two consecutive days of lovely fine, calm conditions. And the long-term predictions from the experts are not encouraging.

Perhaps the long-range forecasts of unsettled, wet weather for the next month are a blessing, because the forecasts so far have been off the mark more than on it.

But it is ironic that in spite of the lousy summer we have experienced, the snapper fishing around Auckland, in particular, has been the best for many years. The basic rule of thumb that in summer we fish the green water and winter we fish the blue water has been accurate. And snapper are still in close, with the Waitemata Harbour continuing to fish well. Many people have commented on the prevalence of green crabs found in the stomachs of snapper, and as one wryly noted: "There must be a lot of crabs in the harbour because there is a hell of a lot of snapper there and they have been there since before Christmas."

Fishing has changed a little in the popular channels, with a higher percentage of small fish plaguing anglers. It is sometimes necessary to move around to locate fish, so it may be starting to change. As temperatures cool the snapper will start to move out into deep water in the outer Hauraki Gulf.

But there are a lot of kahawai around, and the sight of birds wheeling and diving is a common one on most days. They are feeding on tiny, silver baitfish and, as a result, can be hard to catch. One solution is to use the trout-fishing approach, and a lead-core trolling line like those used on the lakes is a useful addition to the tackle arsenal. Four colours of lead line equates to 40m of line out, and a long trace with a small silver spinner or a 2.5cm silver or white cobra lure will do the trick.

Whole small kahawai make a top bait for big snapper, and the Outdoors column in tomorrow's Herald on Sunday discusses a monster snapper caught recently on just such a bait.

Kahawai are common in the Bay of Plenty also, and further out skipjack tuna are still running well. The occasional marlin is coming from Mayor Island waters when the weather conditions allow fishing, and snapper fishing is better inside the Tauranga Harbour than off the coast. An early start, a good current and a long trace seem to be the magic ingredients for fishing the harbour.

Tarakihi appeared to have moved offshore and are out in 60m of water. Surfcasters and kontiki fishermen are doing well on Bay of Plenty beaches, and snapper are even being caught at the Kautina Cut.

The west coast has fished well this summer with marlin taken from Raglan to Hokianga, but strong winds will make it difficult this weekend, and the three-day Westcoaster Tournament has been called off.

One place that has been going well is the Graveyard on the Kaipara Harbour, and some good-sized snapper are being taken on soft baits.

Northland waters have been patchy for game fishing, and kingfish and snapper are not proving easy to catch in the Bay of Islands. Stray-lining in close to the rocks along the edge of the mud banks is a good approach for a feed of snapper, or well out in 60m of water.

Rivers and streams, like the tributaries of the Waipa River in the Waikato, are all holding good levels of water after a wet summer and are in good condition, and are well worth a visit with a fly rod when weather is favourable. On the Rotorua lakes, changeable weather has affected fly fishing, and night fishing at stream mouths is pretty hit-and-miss.

Jigging on the deep lakes is also affected by wind, and Lake Rotoiti produces some good action when the wind allows.

Lake Tarawera has been harder, and the next phase will be the start of the autumn fly fishing at small stream mouths on all the lakes.

Deep trolling and harling will always produce trout, particularly for those anglers who know the local area.

More outdoor action can be seen on Rheem Outdoors with Geoff, 5.30pm on TV3 tonight, and on the internet television channel www.FishnHunt.Tv

- NZ Herald

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