Crayfish, big snapper and kingfish are all on the menu at the moment.
A 12kg snapper came from a reef at the top end of the Coromandel Peninsula this week, and a group of divers returned from Great Barrier Island with a good haul of crayfish which they said were all in hard shell and just "sitting out in the open".
The bigger snapper are targeted by straylining in to the rocks around the islands, with plenty of berley. It is a question of working the tides so the current takes the berley and the floating baits in towards the rocks, and dawn and dusk are always the best time for this type of fishing.
The channels are starting to fish, but the most consistent results are coming from out in the Hauraki Gulf in 40-45m of water. It is not necessary to fish work-ups as they are not always easy to find, but of course you always check out any bird activity. Changes in the bottom contour or fish sign on the bottom are other indicators to look for. Flutter jigs and slow jigs all work when drifting slowly, and the green kabura is producing consistently.
Kingfish have turned up at the regular hot spots and will be there all summer - Park Point, The Noises and Crusoe Rock and the Pakatoa Reef.
There are good numbers of fish all the way from about 5km north of The Noises up the coast to east of Kawau Island, and right up into Bream Bay. The wind determines where the conditions will be comfortable, but those prepared to get out early will beat the wind and might be home for breakfast.
In some areas the shallow water is fishing well, and small boats can do well in 10m of water in the Firth of Thames, Tamaki Strait, off the East Coast Bays, around Kawau and in Bream Bay. In these conditions, light line and lightly weighted baits cast well away from the boat are the best approach. Hooks can be tied directly to the main line which is a more sensitive rig than the normal swivel and trace combination. A good current is necessary combined with berley, as it is a waste of time fishing directly under the boat.
The spring sees large schools of mackerel and other bait fish move into the inner Hauraki Gulf, and there are concentrations of mackerel south of Kawau. This brings the predators including dolphins, whales, birds and fish like kingfish and kahawai.
With such activity, the snapper won't be far away, but they can often be found on the edges or downcurrent of the surface activity. So it is not necessary to drive the boat right into the middle of the action as some people like to do, as this can disrupt the natural activity which is taking place.
The west coast can be hot at this time of year, and it is just a question of when weather conditions allow boats to get out. There are plenty of snapper schools in 50m off Raglan, and crayfish are not hard to find around Jacksons Reef.
In the Bay of Plenty tarakihi are running well in 50m of water, and kingfish are congregating on the outer reefs.
Land-based anglers are doing well at Whangaparaoa and along the coast from Waiwera north. Again, berley tossed out by the cupful and floating baits of half a pilchard fished on a light trace works well.
Fishing from an hour before low tide to an hour after allows access to the edge of the rocks, but care should be taken to ensure you are not isolated by the incoming tide and the high tide mark is an indicator of how far the water level will rise.
Lake Rotoiti is starting to fish well, mainly with lead-core lines while following the bottom contour at about 20m deep. Spotted gold cobras and Tasmanian devils and black tobies are popular lures, and harling with a red-bodied smelt fly or a green orbit along the weed lines at dawn is also worth trying. Jigging has not taken off yet, but as the water warms the smelt will congregate around the thermocline and the trout will follow them. But jigging slowly and gently is producing some fish. Fishing on Lake Tarawera also picked up last weekend, particularly deep trolling with downriggers at 25m, again with the black toby. It is also worth having a shallow line out down the middle with a combination of a traffic light Tasmanian devil and a parsons glory smelt fly about a metre ahead of it.
Tip of the week
This is a good time of year for catching blue mackerel, which can often be found in 20m all around the gulf. While jack mackerel - often called yellowtail - are the most common of the mackerel found in our waters and make good bait for snapper and kingfish, the two other species are better bait if you can find them. The round-bodied, mottled green-striped slimeys are far more lively than jacks and are superior live baits for big snapper and kingfish. The larger blue mackerel, which have a blue tinge on the flanks and a black mouth, are also top baits. Both have more blood through their muscle tissue and this attracts snapper, whether fished as chunks on a flasher rig or strips. All three mackerel species are excellent baits for big snapper, either fished whole or cut in half at an angle from in front of the dorsal fin to the end of the gut. They can all be caught on sabiki rigs, and the blues will take regular snapper baits on flasher rigs.
Bite times today are 9.20am and 9.55pm, and tomorrow at 10.25am and 11pm. 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