Fishing: Consider snapper fishing in waterfront debate

By Geoff Thomas

The Tank Farm is a popular spot with fishermen. Photo / Geoff Thomas
The Tank Farm is a popular spot with fishermen. Photo / Geoff Thomas

Who owns the foreshore on the Waitemata Harbour? Who owns the various wharves along the city waterfront? The people of Auckland, through the Auckland Council and its subsidiary, Ports of Auckland. Correct?

In which case the public debate around the extension of wharves and reclamation of portions of the harbour should include access for fishermen. Auckland city has some of the best snapper fishing in the world.

At this time of year the snapper come right into the harbour, and in heavy rain they are almost swimming up the gutters at the bottom of Queen St.

Snapper of 2.5kg and 3kg are often pulled in by the footpath casters who can be seen guarding their rods along the breakwater under the harbour bridge, and on the edge of the Tank Farm.

And you can tell when the fish are running by the number of rods lining the footpath, and along the breakwater on the city side of the harbour bridge.

This summer has not been a memorable one for fishing in the harbour, and it won't happen now. It is too late. It is the same with the fishing in the channels and inshore waters. We just didn't get the really warm sea temperatures, which bring the fish in close.

But there are actually few spots where a line can be cast from the Tank Farm all the way along the waterfront until you get to Orakei Wharf. And how much room is there now for fishermen on that old icon on the other side of the harbour, the Devonport Wharf?

It would be nice to think that in the discussion about what is to be done with the wharves, some access was to be included for fishermen. For the further out into the harbour a wharf protrudes, the better it will be for fishing.

It is all about currents and where the strongest flows run past a structure like a breakwater, that is where the fish will come within casting range.

The wharf at Orakei is always popular and the platform at the end often resembles a porcupine with rods sticking out at all angles. But it isn't one of the better spots around the city to hook a sizeable snapper.

There is no end to the number of baby snapper which fall prey to the small hooks employed by many of the anglers who are targeting the tiny fish like paketi, piper, sprats and yellowtails.

This, in turn, is creating a problem as there are no rules about taking these little species as they have never been considered of much value. So they are caught in their hundreds. This will have to be addressed before the common littlies which hang around the wharf piles are no longer so common.

But the strong currents don't race past the end of that wharf, unlike the breakwater at the Tank Farm where on every tide the current sweeps past the rocks and it is not necessary to cast out into the middle of the harbour.

Like fishing everywhere, there is a handful of experts who have honed their angling skills to the situation. They use wafer-thin braid line, which has less drag in the current than monofilament, with a short trace on to a clip which slides down on to a swivel sitting above the sinker.

So the sinker is on the end and pulls the gear out when cast. Bait will be half a pilchard which is sewn on to the 5/0 super sharp hook in advance (and kept in the chilly bin), or a long, thin piece of fresh squid; not frozen, but fresh from the fish market.

They know how to work the tides so that a good current will be running into the harbour at first light, or in the evening. And they will often fish into the night.

It is a friendly place where there is always a helping hand if a climb down the rocks to the water's edge is needed to grab a large fish, with plenty of banter and shared stories; a mini-community in the heart of the city.

It would be preferable to leave the wharves as they are, with the powers that be not rushing to push extensions into a harbour which is already quite narrow, but carefully considering how the waterfront can be put to the best use for the people who own it.

One can imagine the atmosphere with cafes and fun stores (think San Francisco) along the water, with space in between for seating and with rod-holders bolted to the rail every couple of metres. So let's put snapper fishing on the agenda when it comes to planning the future of the wharves.

Or do we just want to to continue looking at rows and rows of vehicles?

Tip of the week

Smart footpath casters will have spare traces on ice, baited ready to be clipped on to their line when a bare hook is brought in or a fish caught.

It is much quicker than rebaiting a hook, and special baits like a strip or tentacle of squid can be carefully threaded in to the hooks at home before going fishing.

More fishing action can be found at GTTackle.co.nz.

Freshwater
Fishing on the deep lakes at Rotorua and Taupo has picked up, which is to be expected as temperatures cool and the trout become more active in preparation for spawning later in the winter. Deep trolling and jigging is producing the best results, and the old favourite - the black toby - is one of the best lures.

Bite times
Bite times are 10.50am and 11.15pm today and 11.40am tomorrow.

- NZ Herald

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