The shortest day has gone, we are in the middle of winter and plenty of fish are being caught. Some very good snapper are being caught off the rocks in the Bland Bay area and, at this time of year, rock fishing from Mangawhai, all the way up to Cape Reinga can be very good. Plenty of trophy snapper come into the wash to feed. Big baits, strong gear and a good burley trail can make exciting, rewarding fishing. Amongst the bigger fish, are good eating medium-size snapper and often good trevally and kahawhai. Torpedo fishing is also a good way to winter fish from both of our northern coasts.
Out of Whangarei, good snapper catches have been coming from patches of foul in 15 to 20 metres of water out from Waipu. Softbaits, slow jigs, and ledger rigs are all catching nice fish or slow drifting while softbaiting. Try dragging a bait on a long 5-10 metre trace with the sinker above the swivel - the bouncing, dragging sinker disturbs the bottom and the bait comes wafting along behind - this can be very effective.
Those succulent terakihi are now on the bite, mostly in depths of 50 metres or more. 'Terakihi terrors' rigged on softbait rods are very effective when used with small tough oily baits like salted bonito. These rigs will also handle the occasional small hapuka we get amongst the terakihi during the winter and into spring. Deploying a softbait and/or slow jig and leaving your rod in a spare rod holder can often increase your catch.
Andrew Rawlingson has been getting good results from his jetski, fishing well out between Hen Island and Sail Rock in 50-60 metres and using slow jigs and flutter jigs. Using his sounder to find fish congregations, he has caught good snapper.
Andrew uses a sea anchor to slow his drift right down and reports that this makes a big difference.
Also varying his technique; slow retrieve/fast retrieve/jerky retrieve, if the fish aren't responding, he changes his technique. It can make a big difference.
If you are chasing kingfish, there are reports of good kahawhai schools in the Taiharuru and Ngunguru areas, some with some very good kingfish below them.
Are you a shellfish gatherer? A two-year ban on all shellfish gathering in Whangarei from Snake Bank and Mair Bank starts July 1.
You would be wise to contact the Ministry of Fisheries for details.