The Indian Summer continues to bring warm sea conditions and snapper fishing has taken off. The fish have finally moved in close, bringing the best fishing for years, according to one experienced Auckland fisherman.
There are snapper to 3kg coming from well up the Panmure estuary, and charter boats out of Half Moon Bay are stopping at the hole off Musick Point and loading up with limit bags.
With fish in three metres of water, it is a bonanza for the small-boat or kayak light-tackle angler.
Favoured areas such as the Clevedon Flats and the shallows along the edge of the Tamaki Strait off Maraetai and Beachlands, the East Coast Bays and the Whangaparaoa coast will produce hot fishing, particularly on large tides and at dawn and dusk.
But the full moon yesterday will test fishing this weekend, for it usually means hard fishing. Three days after the full moon phase is when it starts to improve, according to the original Maori fishing calendar; although that has been diluted over the years with different versions of the lunar fishing calendar produced by various experts.
Kahawai are a major feature of this summer's fishing, with large fish in plague proportions attacking baits and lures. It is the ideal opportunity for trout fly-casters to test their angling skills on the powerful kahawai.
They prey on small bait fish, usually around the size of whitebait, and a trout smelt fly is the perfect imitation to tempt the speedsters. They can be cast to when splashing on the surface, or the fly can be slow-trolled behind the boat.
When looking for snapper, it is better to find the edge of the reef on the depth sounder and work along where the sand meets the rock; or even out over the sand nearby. Larger snapper will usually be found in these zones.
Further out in deep water, the fishing is also firing, with plenty of good-sized snapper at 45m-50m in the Hauraki Gulf.
Kingfish continue to provide good fishing on the reef off Crusoe Rock, and along the Coromandel coast from Fantail Bay to the Black Rocks.
Skipjack tuna are still common throughout the gulf and can be caught on small flies like kahawai, but the favourite lure is a red and white feather jig trolled just past the white water in the boat wake.
These chunky little fish make excellent snapper bait, but are also fine eating if bled, cleaned and put on ice immediately. One recipe, which comes from Hawaii, is to cut the fillets into 10cm chunks or steaks, discarding the dark red flesh which is rich in blood. The resulting fish is similar in colour to yellowfin tuna, which can be steaked and treated the same way. After marinating in a mixture of soy sauce, oil and lemon juice, the chunks of tuna are quickly pan-fried or barbecued until browned on the outside but still rare in the middle.
Any large fish, including kingfish and albacore, can be treated the same way and it is more like cooking a steak than fish.
For game fishermen, the west coast is still going well for marlin and yellowfin tuna.
FreshwaterThe bright moon this weekend will make fly fishing hard at stream mouths on the lakes, but deep-water mouths like the Tauranga-Taupo and Tongariro Rivers at Lake Taupo should be worth trying.
Another spot which fishes well on a bright moon is the Log Pool on Lake Okataina.
A few trout are hanging around stream mouths and some fresh-run fish have been taken in the Tongariro, but some frosty nights and rain swelling the rivers will help trigger the runs of spawning trout.
Jigging and harling and trolling has improved on the Rotorua lakes, with some better conditioned fish reported.
The normal pattern is for the trout to feed actively at this time of year, putting on condition before facing the rigours of spawning when the males fight over the spawning redds for females and they do not eat for many weeks.