Come in close for the best snapper

By Geoff Thomas

Snapper like to get in around the rocks, and the white water around kelp is a prime target for casting baits.
Snapper like to get in around the rocks, and the white water around kelp is a prime target for casting baits.

The best place to find snapper is close around the rocks, which is good news for shore-based fishermen as well as those in small boats. It is more about small numbers of quality fish than catching large numbers, but some surprisingly large specimens can be hooked.

When rock fishing the biggest snapper come from more remote locations, such as the Coromandel coast, the Far North coast and the eastern Bay of Plenty.

But close to Auckland, fish can be found along the east coast bays, and for boaties around the shoreline of all the islands.

Some places which have been firing are the eastern side of Rakino Island, the shallows around Kawau Island, the bottom end of Waiheke Island, the Noises and the Ahaas, where snapper to 5kg have been reported.

For the rock angler, casting floating baits of fresh mullet, jack mackerel, kahawai or pilchards will work. Berley will also increase the chances of success, while for those in boats or kayaks a floating bait straylined down a berley trail is the way to go.

Fish do not feed as aggressively as in summer, and a tough bait like fresh fillets will hold to the hook better than pilchards and you can allow a snapper to chew on it before striking.

Choosing the location is important, and as with all fishing local knowledge in invaluable. But a visit to a new area at low tide will reveal details of the underwater topography. Elements to look for are a channel and guts, weed beds and currents. A point protruding out from the shore will always hold more fish than a sheltered bay nearby.

After heavy rain, the fresh water which runs off into the sea can create a barrier to snapper, and it may be necessary to move out to water around 10m deep, rather than working right in close.

Fishers using lures such as soft baits have an advantage in that they are covering more water as they work along the shoreline, which compensates for the lack of berley.

A quiet, stealthy approach is important which is where kayaks have an advantage.

The cold, unstable mid-winter weather makes safety precautions even more important than in summer - lifejackets, warm clothing and a hand-held VHF radio or cellphone in a waterproof cover are standard equipment.

But kayak fishermen certainly catch fish, as do those on jet-skis.

In fresh-water fishing, the storm this week was just what fly fishermen in Rotorua wanted.

It stirred up the water along the shoreline, and even small runnels where rainwater runs down into the lakes will attract trout.

Like sea fishing, it is all about water movement and the lack of streams entering the big lakes, Rotoiti, Tarawera and Okataina, concentrates shoreline angling for large spawning trout on sections of the beach where the fish return to the point where they were released as fingerlings 2 years earlier.

These places are well known, and competition among anglers becomes fierce when the fish are running in large numbers.

At Lake Taupo it is the opposite. It has so many tributary streams that rain triggers a run of fresh trout, and the stream mouths and lower reaches usually fish well.

Large brown trout are still being hooked in the Tongariro, which is late in the season, and local fishermen are predicting a late run this year with spawning runs continuing through to October.

When the water is coloured, downstream fishing with large wet flies or nymphing with glo-bugs are recommended, and as the streams clear small imitations of naturals come into their own.

Bite times

Bite times are 10.50am and 11.20pm today, and 11.55am tomorrow. These are based on the moon phase and position, not tides, so apply to the whole country.

* Tip of the week

Dump berley at slack tide and as the tide picks up it will wash the berley along the sea bed. In shallow water one berley bomb on the bottom and one on the surface will ensure good coverage.

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

- NZ Herald

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