A change in the weather helps the fishing and any improvement would be welcome.
Prolonged cold, southerly winds are the worst possible conditions because fish switch off. They close their mouths and go dormant.
But a rise in temperatures, a good blow and a change in the barometer are all factors that can turn things around, and this weekend brings some positive indicators - the tides are over 3m in Auckland and today is the third day after the full moon, which usually sees an improvement.
This weekend sees large tides, which will bring strong currents - all good for fishing.
But as well as the tides, the moon affects the feeding patterns of all creatures, and this phenomenon is called the bite times. There are two bite periods in every 24 hours, a major and a minor period - the former, when the moon is directly overhead, and the other, when the moon is directly under foot on the other side of the planet. One example of this that can be easily noticed is when driving through rural areas and sheep and cattle can be seen standing and feeding on road-side paddocks. At other times, they will be sitting around, often under a tree. It could be any time of the day.
Fishing bite times are not absolute, as tides and weather also influence the movement of fish, and so does the time of day. But most of the factors can be predicted. When bite times coincide with a tidal change at dawn or dusk, it will be an excellent time to be on the water, particularly if they are big tides as well.
Despite the recent wintry weather, there have been some bright spots. Before the period of strong westerly winds, long lines fished off the beach at Muriwai produced some good catches of snapper and gurnard, where both kites and torpedoes worked well. Fresh mullet seems the bait of choice, as it always has been, but the fish are a long way offshore, so lines are 1300m or 1400m out.
Another spot where shore-based long-lines have been catching snapper up to 6kg is at Pakiri Beach and Te Arai Point. A fisherman dropping jigs at North Reef, off the Poor Knights Islands, was recently catching kingfish in midwater. He discovered they were feeding on paper nautilus shellfish, which were gathering for their annual spawning ritual, so he dropped a bait and added snapper to the menu for dinner as they are also partial to a meal of nautilus.
Good snapper are also coming from the shallows around the Bay of Islands and, while the numbers are not like those of mid-summer, some large specimens can be found mooching around the rocks.
The shallows are worth investigating all around the coast at this time of year by flicking small soft baits or a floating pilchard into the gaps and slowly working them back. Wherever there is a flow of foaming water surging into the cracks and crevices, there will be a fish or two.
The Coromandel coast, the Whangaparaoa Peninsular and around the many islands off the coast will all produce some good straylining for the careful angler who approaches quietly and sets up a berley trail; or idles along slowly and casts baits or lures. Small craft such as dinghies, kayaks and jet-skis are ideal for this type of fishing. One keen angler reported hooking snapper by casting a fly with a trout rod into the guts and cracks along the rocky parts of the Waiheke Island shoreline.
When weather allows, a trip out off the west coast should yield a bag of kahawai, snapper and gurnard, although sharks can be a problem in winter. Snapper are hard to find in west coast harbours, but gurnard are running well.
Trout fishing on Lake Rotorua has been excellent, despite the cold weather, and trolling in shallow water around Mokoia Island and off Ngongotaha is producing good numbers of rainbows and the occasional large brown trout. Cobras and Tasmanian devils in clown and red and black are popular on this lake.
Tip of the week
If fishing off the coast, leaders of 30kg monofilament and recurve hooks in 7/0 or 8/0 are popular. But in the harbours or straylining the shallows, change to light line - braid of 3-5kg is fine - and smaller hooks. It is hard applying enough pressure with light line to sink home a large hook. When bottom fishing, weights should match the tackle used. There is no point putting a large sinker on a soft-bait outfit. When straylining, a tiny ball sinker is all that is needed if casting into the shallows. It should sit hard against the bait so it doesn't pendulum when cast.
Bite times today are 2.40am and 3.05pm, and tomorrow at 3.30am and 3.55pm. These are based on the moon phase and position, not tides, so apply to the whole country. More fishing action can be found at www.GTtackle.co.nz.