Geoff Thomas: Shallow water yields better rewards for snapper fans.

By Geoff Thomas

A kayak is the ideal platform for fishing in the shallows. Photo / Thinkstock
A kayak is the ideal platform for fishing in the shallows. Photo / Thinkstock

A kayak or dinghy is the best option for catching snapper at the moment, because fishing in a few metres of water is producing better results than out in the deep.

At a Pakuranga contest last weekend organised by the Big Fish Fishing Club only 80 snapper were weighed from 45 fishermen and the largest was only 2.3kg, caught in two metres of water. Usually about 200 fish would be entered, which is an indication of how hard the fishing is around Auckland - and elsewhere - this summer.

In shallow water a big boat is a handicap, as the noise scares fish, and of course a dinghy or kayak is much quieter and less obtrusive.

Light line and floating baits cast well away from the boat are the key when fishing the shallows, and it can be a lot of fun and challenging when large fish are hooked.

The popular spots such as the channels and out in the Hauraki Gulf are proving fickle, with a lot of under-sized fish and large ones hard to find.

But things could change after this week's rain, the first for many weeks. Snapper do not like fresh water, and the influx of rainwater running into the shallows might send them out to deeper water.

Fishing is better in the Firth of Thames, and again the shallows are producing some great fishing.

The mussel farms are holding a lot of fish, but snapper are fickle, with small fish prevalent and some anglers trying a different approach are doing well. A 7.3kg snapper was caught last weekend by a party targeting kingfish with live yellowtails, and while the kings proved elusive some good snapper fell for the live mackerel. Fresh bait like mackerel or piper is always worth trying, and it does target the larger fish which helps when there are so many small ones around. And there is always the chance of a john dory taking the livie, which is a bonus.

The past two weeks of easterly winds have made life easy for west-coast fishermen and there are game fish all the way down the coast to New Plymouth.

Off the Manukau Harbour there are large numbers of mako sharks in water up to 60m, and marlin are being caught out to 150m, with plenty of skipjack and albacore tuna.

These small tuna are top baits, but are also fine table fish provided they are treated properly when caught.

They can be bled immediately by inserting a knife on the lateral line three fingers' width behind the pectoral fin, which severs an artery, then the head and guts should be removed and the fish put into a slurry of saltwater and salt ice. Steaks about 2.5cm thick marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, oil and grated ginger and cooked like a rare steak on a barbecue are hard to beat.

Freshwater

The rain this week was welcomed by anglers, and put some much-needed fresh water into the streams running into Lake Taupo. The lake level is very low, which means strong rips at the stream mouths and night fishing is starting to pick up. The trout are not large, but are reported to be in top condition. Although there has been some cicada activity it is not a great summer for hatches of the large insects, but caddis and mayflies on the Tongariro River are producing some dry fly action.

The lack of rain has also affected Lake Otamangakau which is low, with little water flowing through. But some nice fish are coming from the lake, and nearby Lake Rotoaira. A small green nymph imitating a damselfly larva works well in summer when fished along the edge of weed beds.

Bite times

Bite times today are 12.20pm, and tomorrow 12.45am and 1.15pm.

Tip of the week

It is a great time of year for surfcasting from the shore or the rocks. Using bait elastic will ensure baits last much longer.

See more fishing tonight on Rheem Outdoors with Geoff, 5.30pm TV3.

- NZ Herald

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