Fishing: Schools of spawning snapper test patience

By Geoff Thomas

The best currents for snapper fishing will be found in the channels this weekend. Photo / Supplied
The best currents for snapper fishing will be found in the channels this weekend. Photo / Supplied

Snapper continue to move closer around Auckland, with pockets of fish showing up in 15m off the Rangitoto Lighthouse. There are also good concentrations of birds two miles north of the lighthouse, and further out in the Hauraki Gulf, there are still large schools of spawning snapper three or four miles north of The Noises.

The water temperature has reached 19C, which will trigger the spawning activity, and the bulk of the fish have remained in the area between Tiritiri Matangi and Kawau Islands, and out to the cables zone. When spawning, the snapper feed only occasionally, so patience is needed, waiting for the bite to come on. They are serial spawners, which means they will spawn several times, but they will start to eat to regain the condition lost during the rigours of laying eggs.

So fishing is not always hot, with some people struggling to catch them, and the full moon over Christmas made fishing hard in most areas. And small tides this weekend won't help, so the channels in harbours will offer the best chances of finding good currents.

Fishing out of Kawakawa Bay is still better in the deep water and the increase in boat traffic over the holidays will not help fishing in the shallow flats. Slow jigs and soft baits are both reported to be producing good results in 30m-40m.

The Firth of Thames and the mussel farms have been fishing well with snapper to 6kg. But sharks are turning up as they chase the flounder, which are also running in good numbers.

It has been a good year for hapuku off the Mercury group of islands and Cuvier Island, with 'puka being hooked in water as shallow as 90m, along with big snapper. Speed jigging for kingfish on the deep pins out off the Mercs has also been producing hot fishing with large numbers of fish hooked and released.

The west coast has been slow in the past week but the blue water is right in close off Raglan, so marlin and tuna won't be far away.

Fishing in the Kaipara Harbour has also improved, with snapper starting to appear in the upper harbour.

In the Bay of Islands gamefishers are waiting for the first signs of marlin and tuna. However, snapper have moved closer to Russell and are being caught in shallow water just off Tapeka Pt and Long Bay. The popular technique is to put a double at the end of the main line and attach a shock tippet of around 40kg mono trace to protect it from the powerful teeth of large snapper.

Freshwater

Hot, settled weather since Christmas has also sparked trout fishing in the Rotorua lakes, and the first trout are appearing at the Awahou and Hamurana Stream mouths at night. This will only improve as summer sets in, but if January brings a lot of westerly and southerly winds, it may not be a vintage fly fishing summer.

The best action is coming from Lake Rotoiti where the hot jigging has taken off. The trout accumulate in schools in layers anywhere from 20m to 60m deep as they follow schools of smelt.

On Lake Tarawera, fishing was hard up to two weeks ago and has really improved. Deep trolling and harling in the evenings are producing plenty of fish, and one charter boat reported catching 12 trout one evening while harling off White Cliffs. Harling over the shallow shelves like those at White Cliffs and Kariri Pt is best when the water surface is chopped up and a northerly wind produces the best conditions. Harling at dawn can be good, but it is usually calm which is better for water skiers than fishermen.

The water level at Lake Taupo is high, and as a result, the rips at the stream mouths are hard to locate, making night fishing a little hit and miss. Jigging on the lake has been patchy, but deep trolling is producing fish and some fish are reported to be full of green beetles, so harling with a green fly will be worth trying. There are good numbers of trout in the Tokaanu tailrace, and on the Tongariro River, dry fly fishing in the evenings can be spectacular. The lower river is holding some large brown trout which can be stalked from the river banks.

Tip of the week

When snapper fishing, always position the boat so the wind and tide are running the same way and the boat will then lie straight in the current.

Bite times

Bite times are 7am and 7.20pm today and tomorrow at 7.40am and 8.05pm. More fishing action can be found on Rheem Outdoors with Geoff, 5pm Saturdays, TV3, and at www.GTtackle.co.nz.

- NZ Herald

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