Geoff Thomas
Geoff Thomas on fishing

Geoff Thomas: Change to snapper rules stupid and unnecessary

Always net fish head-first, when they are lying on the water's surface.
Always net fish head-first, when they are lying on the water's surface.

The changes to the recreational snapper fishery on the east coast of the North Island will result in more fish being killed, and will not solve the perceived problem of diminishing fish stocks.

From April the bag limit will be cut from nine to seven fish a day, and the minimum size increased to 30cm. The changes apply only to the area Snapper 1, which stretches from East Cape to North Cape.

One former commercial fisherman and charter skipper who knows the snapper situation in the Hauraki Gulf from long experience said it wouldn't make any difference: "Why do it? It just shows how stupid they are."

There is no reason to change anything - scientists say fish numbers are slowly increasing anyway, so it has been heading in the right direction.

The biggest challenge facing fishermen in Auckland has been finding snapper bigger than 27cm. And for every takeable fish, half a dozen will be caught and returned. Now, people will have to catch even more small fish to meet the 30cm limit.

Some have traditionally imposed their own boat limit of 30cm, but they are usually more experienced anglers.

A smaller bag limit can also be counter-productive when people who have caught, say, five snapper will keep fishing to get the extra two so they can take their limit when they may not have worried about it before.

For those fishing from wharves or off the rocks, it has always been difficult finding legal-sized snapper and they will be handicapped even more under the new regime, simply because smaller fish will venture into shallow water close to shore while their larger cousins prefer the security of deep water.

Having said that, there is some good fishing to be had in the shallows from a small boat. One fisherman who recently set a long-line in just a few metres of water off the Clevedon River estuary took home 18 nice snapper. All the females were full of advanced roe, which is very early for spawning fish.

A Warkworth angler fishing out of Mahurangi also reported mature eggs in female snapper.

FreshwaterAs expected, harling in the early morning produced some nice trout on the Rotorua lakes, but deep trolling was the most successful method on the deep lakes. A Traffic Light cobra or Tasmanian Devil was one of the most popular lures, but all colours will catch fish if presented in the right situation - just off the edge of a drop-off, following the contour around the edge of the lake.

Tip of the weekWhether in salt or freshwater, always net fish head-first, and wait until the fish is lying on the surface. A fish that is swimming will swim away from the net, and the angler with the rod must bring the fish within range of the net and lift it up to the surface before the attempt is made.

Bite timesBite times are 12.40am and 1.05pm today, and tomorrow at 7.30am and 1.55pm. These are based on the moon phase and position, not tides, so apply to the whole country.

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

- NZ Herald

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