When two Aucklanders went out for a fish in the Manukau Harbour last weekend, they had no idea what they would take home.
Phil Coveny and his brother-in-law Simon Mackereth were looking forward to fishing the harbour but had no spot in mind.
"We are new to the Manukau and we went out past the cement works, turned left at Puketutu Island and started fishing in the channel.
"We were catching a lot of kahawai on ledger rigs, and Simon also put out a strayline bait.
"It was only a light rod with a bit of nylon, nothing special. He put it in the rod-holder and, when it came time to go home, he went to pull it in and there was a big load on it," said Phil.
They could not believe it when a huge snapper surfaced.
"We had no net or gaff, and when he got it to the side of the boat, I grabbed it - and the line broke! I didn't have a very good hold, but managed to get it into the boat."
The large snapper weighed 8.2kg and Phil said they also took home a lot of kahawai - nothing goes to waste in his household.
"We had some as sashimi, some smoked and also cooked one on the barbecue with some herbs and spices. It was beautiful."
The improving weather has allowed fishers to get out all around the North Island, and one party came back from Great Barrier Island last week with an 8kg snapper and a box of smaller fish. Their trip was memorable for the sight of a school of orcas hunting rays and tossing them into the air all around their boat while anchored in Port Fitzroy for the night.
A charter boat anchored off the southeastern corner of Little Barrier Island while sheltering from northeasterly winds, fishing into the berley with ledger rigs bottom-dunking and strayline baits drifting back down the current, did well on snapper.
A couple of keen blokes from Orakei who ventured out this week and drifted with soft baits in the general area of the worm beds off Motutapu Island, took home a dozen good 40cm snapper and one 60cm.
Another party of three Aucklanders who like to fish around Motuora Island, south of Kawau Island, use only soft baits and they always take home a good bag. Last time, they had their 21 snapper in three hours fishing between 25-30m deep.
There has been a patch of fish in the area between Flat Rock, Motuora and out to the cable lines for some time now.
Idling along the edge of Cape Karikari in Northland and casting soft baits into the rocks is producing great results.
While fly fishing the Taupo spawning tributaries has been average this winter, the Tauranga-Taupo River providing the best results and the Hinemaiai Stream crowded with anglers, the spring mayfly hatches are not far away and rising fish should be seen on the rivers.
Trout are being caught close to the surface on Lake Taupo, so boat anglers could put out a harling line as well as the regular deep lines.
Trout fishers around the North Island are counting down to the new season on October 1, but there is still some good early spring fishing to be found on the waters open through winter.
Fly fishing or spinning from the shore at places like Lake Rerewhakaaitu and Lake Tarawera's Rangiuru Bay just get better as the weather warms.
Wading and casting patterns like the Kilwell No 1, Hamills Killer and Green Orbit with slow sinking lines at Rerewhakaaitu and fast sinkers at Tarawera are popular. While red-bodied flies are favoured in winter when trout are spawning, a change to yellow-bodied patterns is recommended in spring when smelt are the main target of feeding trout.
Tip of the week
Put out a strayline outfit when bottom-bouncing flasher rigs for snapper and kahawai. It should have a reel - spin reels are the most popular and easiest to use. Recurve hooks are also useful. Baits should be tough, such as fresh kahawai, yellowtail or mullet.
Bite times today are 7.40am and 8.10pm, and tomorrow at 8.35am and 9pm. These are based on the moon phase and position, not tides, so apply to the whole country. For more fishing action: www.GTtackle.co.nz.