Fishing is a funny old business and while we all seek the perfect bait or the ultimate lure that will attract the quarry in huge numbers, the fact remains that where we put our bait or lure is paramount.
Trout fishermen will always ask a successful angler - what fly were you using? - in the solid belief that switching fly patterns will unlock the mystery. If they stopped to consider that what sort of line the guru was using and where the cast was directed are of equal importance to what was on the end, they might figure it out for themselves. Was it on the surface or deep in the depths? Was it in a current or over the edge of a drop-off? The dynamics shift endlessly.
And so it is when hunting snapper or kingfish or marlin. The dynamics are constantly moving. Currents change with the tides, depth and bottom contour are always changing as a boat moves. The ability to interpret the signals on the screen of your electronics is more useful than having a list of spots. Because fish are always moving.
So we should be thinking about what lies beneath the surface. Any change in a flat sea bed should attract attention immediately. It may be a contour line which shows up on a chart, or a rock or a small patch of rubble. For these will attract fish.
And the fish are motivated by two factors - food and security. Most fish will hide at night when the great predators are hunting, stirring to life as the first light penetrates the dark gloom. The long fronds of bull kelp waving in the current are like forests in the mountains and provide shelter for all kinds of life.
Currents bring food to fish, and storms will dislodge crabs and shellfish attracting hungry opportunists like snapper. Murky water is also more attractive to fish than clear water where they are easily seen. These are the variables that anglers look for as they influence fish behaviour at sea, while winds can push food on to a shoreline on a lake.
So what is the answer when heading out today?
On the salt it is to work around the tides. The tides this weekend are average so while there will be reasonable currents in the channels, it won't be necessary to put 10 ounces of lead on your line to reach the bottom off Park Pt on Waiheke Island.
Charter skippers who spend most days on the water know that the tide starts flowing into the Sargents Channel before it does in the Motuihe Channel. As the tide runs into a congested channel it actually flows faster out the other side.
So when looking for more current it is better to move further into the channel, and the reverse applies when less current is wanted (on the king tides). So the plan this weekend would be to start fishing on the up-current side of one of the channels, moving down with the current as it picks up, to ensure a good flow.
However, if conditions allow then the chances of scoring a good bag look better out wide in the gulf, for the annual movement of snapper into inshore waters has been delayed by unseasonal low temperatures.
The biggest challenge at the moment is avoiding the under-sized snapper. The only solution is to use large hooks, maybe 7/0, and to keep moving until better fish are found. Using fresh bait like kahawai or yellowtail will also help as the young fish prefer soft baits which are easily torn off hooks like pilchards or squid. Sometimes a combination is a smart approach - pilchard to attract fish when it disintegrates in a cloud of blood, oil and scraps like a miniature berley bomb, and a chunk of kahawai on another hook.
The other variable of course is the bait and rig. The commercially produced flasher rigs with bright tassels on the hooks work fine in some situations, and in fact when there is little current flowing it is the best time to tie one on. Then, as currents pick up, a change to a trace up to 2m with two hooks will produce more fish. Separate chunks on two or three hooks fixed on the end of a trace with a longline knot will increase the chances of a hook-up, for when one bait has been destroyed you still have others working for you.
Some spots which are holding fish in good numbers are on the reef at Flat Rock, and if targeting kingfish the the reefs at Crusoe Rock, the Noises and Pakatoa Reef.
The west coast has been producing the best fishing, when weather and sea conditions allow boats to get out; while in the Bay of Plenty the fishing has been hard.
Increasing insect activity is giving back country stream fishing a boost. Trout anglers are hoping the cicadas will start hatching soon.
Tip of the week
Try light line, like 6kg braid, small baits like chunks of pilchard and small sinkers. Fish lost through light tackle will be more than compensated for by the increased hook-up rate.
Bite times are 7am and 7.25pm today, and 7.50am and 8.20pm on tomorrow. More fishing action can be found at