Geoff Thomas
Geoff Thomas on fishing

Geoff Thomas: Quota system hardly a success now is it?

Large snapper such as this 6kg beauty caught by Ben Staessens can be targeted in the shallows.
Large snapper such as this 6kg beauty caught by Ben Staessens can be targeted in the shallows.

The controversy over proposals to cut recreational snapper fishing has not affected the actual fishing. There is some great fishing to be found in close, in the shallows. But while on the subject of the political issues - the Quota Management System is held up by the managers (now a different government department, but the same people) to be the best in the world.

Well, if it is so good why, after 27 years, are they talking about drastic reductions in the catch? If the system worked, the discussions would be about how much the catch could be increased. It has failed.

A caller to talkback radio this week complained about a commercial long-liner working the Tamaki Strait, suggesting all commercial fishing should be pushed well out into the Hauraki Gulf, leaving inshore waters for recreational anglers in smaller boats. In fact, the long-line boats are allowed to fish these waters only in winter and are banned after October 1 for the summer.

But back to the fish. The reason the long-liner is there is that the fish are there. It may be unseasonal, but snapper are moving into the strait and fishing has been good when the weather allows.

Straylining in the shallows is also productive along the foreshore of Rangitoto Island, and in the foul in the Motuihe Channel.

A 10kg-plus snapper was reported from Durville Rock, and the odd big fish has come from the Ahaaha Rocks. Position the boat so the berley is washed into the reef and rocks by the current in a steady stream. Baits are unweighted, either whole pilchards or yellowtails, and are cast well away from the boat. The jaws and teeth of large snapper are powerful, designed to crush mussels and kinas, and can easily cut through monofilament line.

A short trace of 30kg leader with one or two 7/0 hooks on the end, fixed with longline knots so the hooks lie straight, works well. In strong currents or waves, a small ball sinker may be needed to take the bait down, and it is important to keep in touch with the bait, moving it gently from time to time. Fish are attracted to a moving bait, and if allowed to sink to the bottom the bait can become stuck in the rocks.


There have been some runs of good-sized trout in the Tongariro River, triggered by a falling barometer and rain, with some anglers catching up to 15 fish in two days on the Bridge Pool and Boulder Reach. Fishing small stream mouths on dark nights has also been producing results, although this week's full moon will not have helped. The deep water rips at the Tongariro Delta and Tauranga-Taupo River mouth are the exception, and fish well in moonlight.

Bite times

Bite times are 2.25am and 2.45pm today, and tomorrow at 3.10am and 3.35pm. These are based on the moon phase and position, not tides, so apply to the whole country.

Tip of the week

A fine wire trace 25cm long with a hook crimped on the end and a swivel on the other can be used when straylining for big snapper, in place of a monofilament trace.

* More fishing action can be found on Rheem Outdoors with Geoff, 5pm Saturdays, TV3, and at

- NZ Herald

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