The wild weather this week could be just what is needed to stir up the fish, because fishing everywhere has been fickle.

Those working both coasts have been having trouble finding consistent fishing, with snapper spread out in pockets and game fish popping up in unexpected places.

Some blue and black marlin have been hooked off the Manukau Harbour bar, but otherwise billfish have been hard to find.

It has been the same on the east coast, with some great fishing along the 300-metre line out off Great Mercury Island and down to the Alderman Islands, just before the heavy winds during the week.


Snapper hunters have experienced similar frustrations. Work-ups in the Hauraki Gulf are short-lived, and some anglers struggle to hook legal-sized fish while other boats a few hundred metres away clean up.

But this has been the pattern in a summer which is best described as being very late arriving, and then changing again.

But solid rainfall and a good blow can change everything. Rivers in flood carry all sorts of detritus and food items out to sea, and fish like snapper and kahawai are the ultimate opportunists.

They will move into shallow water under the cover of murky conditions, and roam the edges of the freshwater as they search for anything edible.

Some species like mullet, flounder and kahawai are not deterred by freshwater, and will even travel far upriver.

Snapper, however, avoid the actual river water and will be found around the margins.

An incident which occurred many years ago illustrates how the unexpected can happen. It was the first snapper I saw taken on a jig, and it was caught by accident. We were fishing off the mouth of the Rangitaiki River where it flows into the Bay of Plenty, not far from Whakatane.

The river attracts large numbers of kahawai, particularly in spring when the whitebait are running. We had launched the 5m runabout inside the bar and headed out to spin and troll for kahawai.

On the light spin outfits the kahawai up to 4kg were a real handful. It was just a question of tossing out a silver toby trout lure, letting it sink down a metre or so, then retrieving steadily.

I cast out then laid down my rod to net a fish for my mate, when my rod started jerking and bobbing. I grabbed it and struck what was obviously a powerful fish.

It tore line from the reel and we had to follow it for nearly 20 minutes before a large silver shape gleamed through the brown water.

A magnificent snapper surfaced, totally exhausted after the long fight on the light gear, the small toby dangling brightly from the corner of its jaw.

That snapper weighed 9kg and when cleaned was found to be packed with baby flounder around 7.5cm long. It takes little imagination to visualise the lure drifting down and kicking up a puff of sand as it settled on the bottom, perfectly simulating the action of a startled baby flounder - or dab as they are called - in front of the prowling snapper.

Today, snapper are routinely caught on jigs designed to simulate just that action.

And dabs are favoured prey for many different fish, from sharks which suck them up like a vacuum cleaner, to kingfish which will follow a prowling stingray in the shallows of a harbour waiting for the shadow of the large ray to disturb a small flounder.

Some fly fishermen who specialise in casting large flies in saltwater for a variety of species from snapper to kahawai and kingfish will stalk the upper reaches of harbours, searching with polaroid sunglasses for a patrolling ray.

They then look for the green and yellow torpedo-like shape of a kingfish in the clear water above the black diamond shape on the sea bed and cast ahead of it with a fly resembling a bait fish like a sprat.

A few quick jerks as the line is quickly retrieved, and with luck the king will chase the fly and grab it. In shallow water a powerful fish like a king is a real challenge with a fly rod. This sort of fishing can be found in the upper reaches of the Waitemata Harbour near Te Atatu.

Rivers will be discoloured and in spate, but lake fishing should improve as the weather settles.

Tip of the week

When casting floating baits in shallow water a spin reel and matching rod is the best option. It is easy to cast, but the drag should be smooth and strong to handle the surging runs of powerful fish like snapper and kahawai, and occasionally kingfish.

Cheap reels will not handle the pressure, so quality tackle is essential. A swivel will cause a splash which can frighten the fish, so a trace can be directly attached to the main line which may be anything from 4kg to 8kg breaking strain monofilament - the lighter the better in terms of casting and visibility in clear water.

A trace of 15kg line is all that is needed to counter abrasion from sharp scales and fins, and should be short enough to make casting easy.

It can be attached by tying a loop in the end of the main line, passing the end of the trace through the loop, winding it up and around the doubled line four times, then passing back down and through the bottom of the loop and pulling tight.

A simple but strong knot, and the tag end can be snipped off. Hooks are best tied to the trace with a longline knot, before the trace is connected to the main line.

Bite times
Bite times are 12.15pm today, and 12.40am and 1.05pm tomorrow. More fishing action can be found at