With the moon the closest it has been to the earth for 70 years this week, the largest tides for many years occurred on Wednesday and yesterday. This produced the strongest currents — which were great for snapper fishing.
It also meant extra caution was needed when launching or retrieving boats at low tide, because if a boat trailer slips over the end of a launching ramp because of extra shallow water, it creates a problem when it comes to pulling it out again.
This is where a four-wheel-drive vehicle comes into its own, and sometimes a rope is needed to attach to the trailer and change the angle of pull to one side to lift a wheel over the lip at the end of the ramp.
The same phenomenon will occur with the moon again passing close in its elliptical orbit on January 2 and 31, so planning fishing trips around these dates would be a smart approach.
While current is important out at sea, in harbours where tidal flows are constricted between narrow shores, the opposite occurs.
Fishing will be almost impossible when the tide is surging in or out because it is too hard getting terminal tackle down to the bottom. Fishing is restricted to high and low tides when currents ease, and this applies to harbours such as Manukau, Kaipara, Tauranga and Waitemata.
While there are plenty of snapper in the channels and harbours, there are also high numbers of small fish, and the best snapper fishing in the Hauraki Gulf is still out in 30m-40m of water, and the hour after the turn of high tide seems to be producing the most action.
Water temperatures are rising and as a result, snapper are not holding in any one area but moving around. They will be looking for the 18-degree water where they will start spawning. Some years, northerly and easterly winds push warm water in close and the fish congregate in schools for spawning. The answer for fishermen is to keep moving until you find fish.
There are good numbers of snapper in the area from east of Kawau Island to Whangaparaoa Peninsula, and in the Firth of Thames.
In fine conditions, it is also worth looking out in the middle of the Gulf, as this is the prime time of year for work-ups, with gannets and dolphins herding up schools of bait fish.
If no birds can be located, fishermen should look for changes in the sea bed, like contour lines which show up on charts or small patches of rocks or reef on the screen of the depth sounder.
The other sign which suggests the presence of predators such as kahawai or kingfish, with snapper on the bottom, is schools of bait which appear on the screen in midwater.
Bream Bay is also "full of fish", according to local fishermen who are having trouble avoiding the large schools of snapper.
And in the Firth, the advent of mussel farms has changed the nature of fishing, as these structures hold fish all year round. For example, kingfish and snapper now hang around all winter, when in the past they would have moved out to deep water offshore after June. Even in strong winds, some shelter can be found around the farms, allowing people to fish in marginal conditions. And the average size of snapper this spring is better than in the past.
Straylining with floating baits cast away from the boat in shallow water can also be exciting, and rewarding. Berley is a must, and light tackle will bring more bites than heavy line. Half pilchards will always provoke bites, while a fresh whole or half jack mackerel will not get as many bites but it will always hook bigger fish.
On the other side of the Firth, anglers heading out from Kaiaua can find good fishing as soon as the depth reaches 20m. In the Bay of Plenty, the kingfish are showing well at White Island and snapper fishing over the reefs such as Tuhua at Mayor Island, The Rau Rimu Rocks off Thornton and the Tasman Reef out of Whakatane are all fishing well.
The west coast is really firing, with limit bags of 10 good snapper not hard to find out of Raglan and Kawhia and off the Manukau Harbour.
Inside the Manukau and on the Kaipara Harbour, gurnard are running well, and the scallops are in good nick. The key to fishing these harbours is to head out on the small tides when currents and floating weed will not pose such a challenge.
This is a good time of year to wade the shallows of lakes such as Lake Rotoaira near Turangi, and Lakes Rotorua and Rerewhakaaitu. The dragonfly and damselfly nymphs are hatching, and casting a nymph imitation or a small Hamills Killer around the edges of weed beds can produce some lively action.
The nymph of the dragonfy is one of the most ferocious killers in the animal kingdom, stalking and devouring other nymphs and small fish during the two-year larval stage when it lives under water.
After hatching into the adult insect, it continues to hunt other small flies like mosquitoes which it hunts in the air and holds with its feet while it eats them. It has four wings which operate independently, allowing the insect to hover in the air and fly backwards. Dragonflies live from three weeks to a year as an adult insect, before mating and dying.
Tip of the week
Flasher rigs with fluorescent green flashers on the hooks work well around the mussel farms. But don't drop the anchor near the farms because it can become stuck on the underwater cables which anchor the lines of mussels. If fishing close, it is better to tie up with a small grapnel thrown over one of the mooring lines.
Bite times are 6.05am and 6.30pm tomorrow and 7am and 7.20pm on Sunday. More fishing action can be found at GTTackle.co.nz.