Water's a bit cooler, but that's not worrying the snapper

By Geoff Thomas

Photo / Paul Estcourt
Photo / Paul Estcourt

A pocket of good-sized snapper has turned up off East Coast Bays, inside the cable zone, and there are still plenty of fish in the Waitemata Harbour and the channels.

The water temperature is three degrees lower than at this time last year, at 21C, but it is obviously warm enough to bring snapper in close.

Some of the biggest snapper are coming from shallow water in close along the edge of the Sargents Channel and on the reef around Crusoe Rock, and inside the hole off Matiatia at Waiheke Island.

There, the better fish are coming from the edges of the 30m hole, not in it.

The sandy banks off the cliffs at Cheltenham also fish well, and it is only 15 or 16m deep on the inside of the Rangitoto Channel.

Like all snapper fishing, it is better when the tide is running and there is a good current.

The exception is when drifting and fishing with soft baits.

Because the boat is moving and you are covering new water with every cast, the tidal flow is lessimportant.

What is important is that the boat doesn't move too quickly, as getting the lure to the bottom will become difficult.

Tide against wind helps and a sea anchor is also useful, although small boats will catch less wind and are more efficient.

This is where jetskis come into their own, and soft-baiting from these craft is gaining in popularity.

So, too, is fishing from kayaks, and this highlights the importance of all boats keeping a good watch when travelling, as the traffic on busy harbours like the Waitemata is increasing all the time.

A shortage of New Zealand-caught pilchards has caused problems for the bait industry, as imported bait is not the same quality as the local individually quick-frozen pillies.

A total of 28 tonnes of pilchards had been caught all season in Northland waters, but this week two boats returned with 30 tonnes, which should ease the shortage.

Kingfish are in good numbers at Gannet Rock, where they can be hooked on jigs, and off the reef at Pakatoa Island where live baits under a balloon are the popular option.

In water up to about 15m, it is a good idea to set live baits on the surface and on the bottom when fishing over the sand, off the edge of the reef.

Surface baits are hooked through the back, in front of the dorsal fin, with the point of the hook forward so it sits correctly when the bait is taken head first.

But on the seabed, the livie is hooked through the nose or the upper lip, although piper can be hooked through the wrist of the tail.

Baits set on the bottom are fished with a hard drag and the kings are hooked immediately.

In contrast, they should be allowed to swim away with a surface bait before applying the drag.

Snapper are running hot in the Firth of Thames, where some experienced anglers report "the best fishing for years".

On bright days, the periods of low light at dawn and dusk are best when fishing the shallows and surfcasting from the rocks, but there are plenty of fish around the mussel farms and out in deeper water.

The quality and size of the snapper are also impressive.

Fishing has improved on the other side of the Coromandel Peninsula, with some fish up to 9kg taken in the evenings on reefs close to the shore.

Snapper to 9kg are also coming from Cuvier Island, and some big kingfish are being caught on live kahawai fished around the outer islands in the Mercury group.

The Mercury Bay Game Fishing Club continues to record good marlin catches.

The first marlin off the Manukau Harbour was caught on January 21, and since then several have been landed.

In Northland waters, marlin are being recorded daily off Tutukaka, the Bay of Islands and Whangaroa, where prospects are good for the Whangaroa Sport Fishing Club's One-Base Tournament this weekend.

In Rotorua, the deep lakes such as Rotoiti and Tarawera are fishing well, producing some lovely trout in top condition.

On Rotoiti, fat fish of 3kg and more are being caught by all methods, with jigging still the most popular.

But the cool summer, with rain and southerly winds, has kept water temperatures down.

As a result, the stream mouths on Lake Rotorua, such as Awahou and Hamurana, which usually fire over mid-summer, have not had the large numbers of trout congregating there.

But the fish being caught are in better condition than last year.

* More outdoor action can be seen on Rheem Outdoors With Geoff at 5.30pm on TV3 tonight, and on the internet television channel www.FishnHunt.Tv

- NZ Herald

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