We caught a snapper this week. It was not large, so it went back. Nothing unusual about that. But what was unusual was the two small, silver bait fish it coughed up before it started swimming again. They were about 7.5cm long, and fitted nicely into the palm of a hand. The little bait fish were anchovies, with their distinctive gaping angled mouth and low-hinged jaw.
"See, that is what these fish are feeding on," said our boat skipper, gesturing at the splashes which punctured the calm surface of the Hauraki Gulf, out in the middle somewhere between Waiheke Island and the Coromandel Peninsula. The swirls were feeding kahawai, and everywhere the boat had stopped there was similar activity. Big kahawai too, around 3kg and more.
When they grabbed a bait on a ledger trace dropped for snapper they gave those holding the rods a tough time, particularly when two connected at once, and if they didn't all try to head in different directions the angler would probably be pulled over the side.
If there is a group of people fishing it is a good idea to pull in the other lines when a kahawai is hooked, as they swim all around the boat and quickly tangle any lines in their path.
Kahawai have been around in good numbers and sizes this past summer on both coasts, and bait fish like anchovies and other even smaller fish are keeping them in the area.
But work-ups are rare, and as a result the snapper are scattered also.
The warm conditions are also affecting trout fishing at Rotorua and Taupo, with more rain and some frosts needed to get fish moving towards streams.
Bite times today are 7.40am and 8pm, and tomorrow at 8.25am and 8.50pm.
Tip of the week
Drop some small baits for yellowtail and use them as whole baits or fillets for snapper, and also drop a live yellowtail anchored with a heavy sinker for john dory, set away from other lines to avoid tangles.
More fishing action can be found on Rheem Outdoors with Geoff, 6.30am Saturdays, TV3.