Big snapper - that is the buzz at the moment. And they are not far away. One Auckland fisherman who fishes out of Half Moon Bay, reported his first 20 pounder of the summer season last weekend.
He nailed the 9kg snapper on a favourite spot between Waiheke and Rakino Islands, and expects to hook more large fish in the next two months. Another monster of 11.3kg came from the mussel farms in the Firth of Thames.
On the west coast, good-sized snapper are being picked up anywhere between 40m and 60m, which is 10-15kg offshore. With no islands and reefs creating channels and structure it is a question of finding the fish somewhere on an extensive flat seabed. The schools of snapper will be attracted to features like shellfish or worm beds, so local knowledge is always paramount. The traditional rig on the west coast is a simple ledger rig with two hooks above a heavy sinker. Sharks can be a problem and if they turn up, there is no option but to shift.
From the worm beds between Rakino Island and Tiri all the way up to Takatu Pt and further north is where the most snapper are holding. Sometimes work-ups can be located and looking for signs on the fish-finder is a good option, then anchoring and putting out berley and waiting for the fish to bite.
Drifting with soft baits and jigs works well and while these lures are cast ahead of the boat and worked along the sea bed, slow jigs like a freestyle kabura can be trolled with the rod left in a holder. It is important that the lure is on the bottom, so plenty of line may be needed.
Snapper are in close around Auckland. Channels like the Sargent and Motuihe are producing fish, mainly males which turn up first. The females are still around the 35m mark in any numbers.
One spot that usually fishes well at this time of year is the shellfish beds off the eastern side of Rakino in about 18m. The seabed is littered with broken shells, and it is common to pull up males packed with crunched shellfish.
Kingfish have also moved in and the first bronze whalers are also turning up, which is early for both of the large species. A 30kg king was caught at the back of the Noises, and fish up to 20kg are coming from the reef at Cruse Rock, so they will also probably be around the bottom end of Waiheke also at Gannet Rock and the Pakatoa Reef.
There are two main methods of targeting kings - either setting a live bait under a balloon from an anchored boat, with another hard on the bottom anchored to a break-away sinker. The sinker can be attached with dental floss so it breaks off on a strike and you are not playing the fish with a heavy weight attached. Or it can be slow-trolled with a hook through the point of the top jaw, or bridle-rigged.
Anglers at Lake Taupo are waiting for the smelting to start, and harling with small smelt patterns should only get better. Warm weather has sparked more insect activity, with better fishing on lakes like Otamangakau, Kuratau, and Rotoaira as a result. Ether slow harling or casting nymphs around the weed beds are the favoured methods. Green or olive patterns resembling damselfly and dragonfly nymphs are always popular. The Tongariro is reported to be packed with fish after a much-improved spawning season. Nymphing will produce more kelts recovering from spawning, while wet-liners are more likely to strike fresh-run trout.
Tip of the week
Big snapper can be caught on fillets of bonito or kahawai, whole pilchards and squid, but your chances of hooking one are much better with fresh bait. Whole fish like piper or yellowtails are prime baits and can be fished either alive or dead. Plenty of berley in a continuous trail is also important.
Bite times are 4am and 4.30pm today and tomorrow at 5am and 5.25pm. More fishing action can be found on Rheem Outdoors with Geoff , 6.30am Saturdays, TV3, and at www.GTtackle.co.nz.