Geoff Thomas
Geoff Thomas on fishing

Geoff Thomas: Braving darkness brings in snapper

Photo / Alan Gibson
Photo / Alan Gibson

Surfcasting from beaches at night has been successful at many places around the North Island. From Ninety Mile Beach to the sweeping sandy beaches that line the Bay of Plenty coast, keen anglers prepared to fish in darkness are catching snapper.

In some cases limit bags are being reported, but the last fish may not be beached until after midnight.

The anglers often use quad bikes to reach likely deep spots created by swirling currents, and set up two or three rods. Traces are made up in advance and carried wrapped around a slab of cardboard or secured to a piece of plastic pipe with notches cut into the ends.

The baits are slices of bonito, salted mullet or pilchard or tuatua or even crayfish meat - all wrapped with bait elastic to hold it on the hook as long as possible.

Clad in neoprene wetsuits or waders, the casters will wade out until only a head is visible above the white-capped rollers, as they try to add an extra centimetre to the cast.

As the sun sets and the temperature drops, a pile of driftwood is set alight and a wire grill laden with sausages, steaks or lamb chops is set over the hot embers.

Snapper usually run well on the beaches from March through winter, and the big fish usually arrive in September and October.

The winter months are also prime time for gurnard, and occasionally a kingfish is hooked on a live bait, which is set by an ingenious technique.

It is hard to cast a live bait without it flying off the hook so the angler casts out a grapnel-type sinker and, when it is firmly stuck in the sand, clips a trace with the bait on the end to the line where it enters the water and the live fish swims out from the beach.

Other fishermen work these beaches with different types of motorised torpedoes or wind-driven kites which tow a 25-hook long-line up to a kilometre out to sea. And they all catch fish, particularly at night.

Kingfish are also being hooked while fishing under the work-ups in the Hauraki Gulf.


Trolling and harling on the Rotorua lakes has picked up in the past week. Some boats are catching four nice trout while harling in the early morning at White Cliffs on Lake Tarawera, and deep trolling with 100m of lead-core line is working well.

A cobra or Tasmanian devil is used with a fly above a swivel a metre up the trace, and over the holiday weekend some anglers reported hooking a fish on both the fly and the lure at the same time. The key is to work the 20-metre line just off the drop-off along the edge of a shelf like those at Kariri and Stoney Pts. Fly fishing has also picked up, and the popular places like the Landing at Tarawera and Hinehopu at Lake Rotoiti are fishing well.

Bite times

Bite times are 11.50am today, and tomorrow at 12.15am and 12.40pm. These are based on the moon phase and position, not tides, so apply to the whole country.

•Tip of the week

Attach a light or bell to the end of your rod to signal bites when surfcasting at night.

More fishing action can be found on Rheem Outdoors with Geoff, 6.30am Saturdays, TV3.

- NZ Herald

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