Bobbing around with slack lines

By Peter Jessup

The fishing has gone deadly quiet in many places.

From Lake Taupo where there have been just small runs of fish, to Rotorua where boat fishing has closed and fly-fishing is slow, to the Hauraki Gulf which has been beset by bad winds, it has been hard to nail fish in any numbers.

Five of us spent five hours in the outer Gulf for a return of one legal snapper and one kahawai, the only other hook-ups being a large red cod, two undersize snapper and another kahawai that flipped off at the boat.

A hard day's work.

We found plenty of fish on the sounder but, despite using various methods and rigs and plenty of berley, we couldn't entice them to bite.

Often the late afternoon-evening is better at this time of the year when weather is cold, and unfortunately we were fishing during the day. We were also plagued by the southeasterly wind, which seems to limit the bite-time to a very short period.

Sometimes small flasher rigs can get baitfish going, and the fresh bait is in turn better than frozen.

Sometimes movement will get the fish to attack, so a slow retrieve of the rig is worth trying.

The Whangaroa Big Gamefish Club held the year's first kingfish contest last weekend, with an uncomfortable sea limiting opportunities. Best catch went to William "Winky" Bannister on the boat Kahlua II, kingfish of 19kg and 15.7kg which took first and second prize. The third biggest fish was 12.9kg.

The best snapper was just 4.7kg (Carmen McIntyre on Topgun).

At Taupo, the fisheries manager for the Department of Conservation, Glenn Maclean, said the figures from river traps suggested this season would follow the pattern last year, with the big runs not starting until the spring. Two-thirds of the fish passing through the DoC traps last year were taken after September 1.

"We've had some small runs but they appear to have stopped again," Maclean said.

At Rotorua, the lakes have closed to boat fishing and anglers have found the fly-fishing slow. There have been good catches, the biggest a 6.4kg fish from Rotoiti, while Tarawera produced a 5.5kg fish for an angler last week.

Frosts and the lack of rainfall had slowed the hook-up rate, said Steve Smith from Fish and Game.

* The Tongariro National Trout Centre holds a children's fishing day tomorrow. For just $6, children from age six to 14 can enjoy lessons from local experts who are members of the centre's volunteer society.

All they need to take is a bag or chilly bin to take their catch home (every learner is just about guaranteed a fish). Check the website (link below) for details.

The ITM Fishing Show returns to Sky at 4.30pm today.

* A bigger budget has allowed Matt Watson and Kerren Packer to invest in high-definition underwater cameras and they promise spectacular footage of fish hitting baits and lures.

Highlights include Watson catching a marlin on a handline from a dinghy and a huge black marlin being eaten by tiger sharks off Cairns.

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