Fishing: Favourable temperatures keep snapper in close

By Geoff Thomas

John Bebbington nets a snapper for Keith Patterson on the Kaipara Harbour. Picture / Geoff Thomas
John Bebbington nets a snapper for Keith Patterson on the Kaipara Harbour. Picture / Geoff Thomas

Persistent warm conditions are prolonging the snapper fishing as water temperatures are not being hit by frosts which often happens by this time of year. While fish have moved out of the main channels, they can still be found in the shallows and at mid-water grounds like at Flat Rock, The Noises, the Ahaaha Rocks, Whangaparaoa Bay and up the coast to Mahurangi and Pakiri. The pattern is similar on the Kaipara Harbour where snapper are still being caught in the channels and gurnard have not yet replaced them, although gurnard are turning up in the harbour. Trevally continue to provide good action around much of the coast.

Straylining in the shallows is a good option around islands and reefs and it works all around our coasts wherever current is flowing past a rocky point or reef. Keep away from sheltered bays, for current is the key. Positioning the boat is critical, and it changes with the tides. Some spots only fish on certain tides, and going out with somebody experienced in this style of fishing is a good start to learning the ropes.

Boat position is important because you want your berley flowing into a jumble of rocks, guts and weed beds, not straight out to sea. Then the style of fishing is different from summer bottom dunking, which involves just sitting and waiting. In fact, it often works best with the rod in a rod holder.

Conversely, straylining is active fishing. Unless targeting big snapper at places like the top end of the Coromandel Peninsula or around Great Barrier Island, you don't need a trace. The small baits used work better without the weight of a heavy trace and sinker. They should float in the current, and light tackle presents the bait better than heavy line. Sometimes a small ball sinker is needed to get the bait down in strong currents.

Baits are cast away from the boat in a semi-circle to cover the water, and bait-feeder-type spin reels are ideal. Baits are simply chunks of pilchard or cubes of fish like mullet, or squid; and because the snapper are often not actively feeding, they will pick at the bait rather than smash it. So keeping in touch with the line is important, and moving the bait occasionally to keep it out of the weed also helps. Let the fish nibble on the bait, then when the weight of the fish can be felt, strike quickly and hard, winding while lifting the rod. It is a technique that can take time to master, but is all about feeling the line which is held over a finger to detect the smallest touch.

A continuous flow of berley is important, and two berleys can be deployed to get things started. If bites stop, it is usually because the berley has run out, or the tide has turned. This approach has been producing well along the eastern shoreline of Rangitoto Island, on the seaward side of Kawau and Tiritiri Matangi islands.

Freshwater

Trout anglers are enjoying good results on the Rotorua lakes, with all methods catching fish. Fly fishing at small stream mouths should improve over the new moon this weekend, and rain boosting streams will also help. Jigging continues to produce fish on Lakes Tarawera, Rotoiti and Okataina, but a booby pattern fished deep over the drop-offs has also been working well.

At Lake Taupo, the delta of the Tongariro River has been fishing well for the past three weeks, but rain is needed to put fresh water in the rivers.

- NZ Herald

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