Geoff Thomas
Geoff Thomas on fishing

Outdoors: Harbours best bet for Easter angling

By Geoff Thomas

Good result more likely by chasing dinner in shallower waters.,/P>

Small boats are better suited for shallow-water fishing than larger models.
Small boats are better suited for shallow-water fishing than larger models.

Anglers looking for a dinner of fresh fish over the long weekend don't have to go past the harbours at the moment. It is the same everywhere - from Whangarei to Tauranga. And the principles are the same.

In strong currents a heavy sinker is needed to reach the bottom, and a long trace allows the bait to move around in the current. Some people will use up to 10m of trace, and with two hooks on the end two chunks of bait can be presented.

Tough baits like fresh, skinned kahawai or strips of mackerel with the skin on will last better than soft baits like pilchards, and if circle hooks or long-line hooks are used the fish will basically hook themselves. One trick is to let out the trace in the current, then when the sinker is reached hold the trace and drop the sinker, letting line run out. When the sinker hits the bottom release the trace and it will slide down to the bottom.

In the Manukau Harbour the deep channels are producing the best action, with the Papakura Channel and Roper's Channel the most popular.

Squid is the hot bait for snapper and as the snapper are chunkier in the body than their east coast cousins a 30cm fish provides good fillets.

On the west coast, and in harbours on that coast, the old limit of 27cm still applies, and the daily bag is still 10 fish per person. Gurnard are starting to turn up in the harbour and a spell of cold weather will see the snapper move out and more gurnard move into the Manukau.

On the Waitemata there are good numbers of snapper right up in the shallows at the top end of the harbour. The key to fishing here is to work the tides, and fish in the small channels and up on the banks on the rising tide, moving away from the shallows once the tide turns and starts to run out, or a few hours stranded high and dry on the mud could be the result. Tackle should be light, with spin rods ideal for casting lightly-weighted baits well away from the boat. Baits like half pilchard or half a small squid work well, and berley is important.

The hooks can be tied directly to the main line, which should be about 4.5kg breaking strain, and small ball sinkers are all that is needed. This is fun fishing, battling sometimes large snapper on light tackle, and it teaches anglers how to use the rod effectively. As in all shallow-water angling the best times are dawn and dusk if they coincide with the high tide. Small boats are better suited for shallow-water fishing than larger models.

Another area which is fishing well is in the shallows around the Firth of Thames. Again, this is dinghy territory and casting whole pilchards along the edge of the mangroves on the highest tide of the month produces some excellent fishing. The snapper move into the shallows to hunt for crabs around the mangrove roots, but these areas are often inundated only on the biggest tides. A check of tide charts will soon point out the best days to try the shallows. Just look for the biggest tides of the month.


Jigging is proving the best method of catching trout on Lake Taupo, but heavy rain will spark a run of spawning trout up the streams and rivers. Fly fishing has been good at stream mouths, but slow in the rivers, however this will change as they clear after rain.

In the Rotorua lakes deep trolling on the big lakes is still the best method, although some large, mature fish are starting to turn up at stream mouths and two fish of 4.5kg have been reported caught fly fishing from Lake Tarawera. The first frost will also help bring on the fly fishing.

- NZ Herald

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