Which rig is best to use on the business end of the snapper line? That is a question which arises often when keen anglers are discussing their passion. Some people opt for a ledger rig while others prefer a running rig where the trace sits below the sinker.
On some days one rig will outfish the other, but there are good reasons for this and it comes down to the conditions – boat movement and water movement. The dynamics of the trace-sinker setup can be altered to suit the conditions.
For example, if the boat is swinging on the anchor a ledger rig with the sinker on the bottom under a couple of hooks on loops, or a pre-tied flasher rig, can be pulled up away from the bottom where the snapper are usually found. In this case a sinker above a swivel with a trace below and a hook on the end will ensure the bait stays hard on the bottom.
The same applies in strong currents. Conversely, when the surface is still and there is little current, a ledger will often produce better results. But the trick is to have the hooks as low as possible.
When tying a ledger the bottom loop should be just above the sinker so the hook will droop down on to the bottom, and the next hook should be as close as possible without the loops being able to meet and tangle the hooks.
The pre-tied flasher rigs with coloured flashers on the hooks often have the bottom hook too far above the sinker but this is easily remedied by shortening it, and re-tying the sinker.
The hooks on ledgers should be recurve hooks, while the common octopus or suicide models are usually tied on to the end of a long trace. The rule of thumb with a trace, or running rig, is the stronger the current, the longer the trace.
With a long trace of several metres recurve hooks can also be used as they basically allow the fish to hook themselves, and with the bait swirling around in a strong current the bite may not felt until the fish is hooked.
The action continues all along the east coast off Leigh, Pakiri and Mangawhai with schools of bait fish, birds and snapper evident. The Worm Beds are starting to fire with a lot of bait fish showing up, including jack mackerel.
But the best results for large fish are still coming from the deeper water further out where work-ups are in full swing. There are good fish all along the cable line east of Kawau, and north of Tiri Matangi Island continues to produce.
One example of the old adage ''fish your feet first'' came from Kawakawa Bay this week, where an experienced fisherman rowed out in a dinghy just before dawn and fished in the centre of the bay. He always uses unweighted light tackle with pilchards for bait, and his only complaint is that the snapper are "a bit on the big side" as he prefers fish of 1kg to 2kg for filleting. Once the sun is up the fish are gone.
The Manukau Harbour has improved with snapper turning up in the deep channels, and a long trace works well in the strong currents. In fact some huge snapper are caught every summer by local anglers who put out a large bait like a fillet of mullet or a mullet head on a very long trace.
The only problem can be the sharks which also take a liking to such baits. Scallops in the harbour are in top condition, and the beds off Clark's Beach are popular.
Off the west coast is firing, which is normal for this time of the season. With no obvious structures like the reefs which line the east coast, fishermen mark their fishing spots by the depth, which is a gentle gradient. Anywhere from 50 to 60 metres seems to be the most productive water.
Kahawai are common in many areas, and can be hooked by drifting and floating a bait, or casting lures and jigs. These fish are highly prized in Australia where they are called salmon because of their similarity to trout and salmon, but they are not related. In this country we have maligned the kahawai in the past, but the species is becoming more valued as people realise it makes fine eating as well as bait.
Whether prepared as raw fish, smoked or in a pie there is nothing wrong with kahawai on the table.
Windy conditions affected fishing on the Rotorua lakes last weekend but all methods are now producing good fish. Jigging at Hauparu Bay on Lake Rotoiti has picked up and should continue to improve as the water warms, while harling at the southern end of Lake Okataina and on Tarawera is improving.
At Lake Taupo all the signs are for a good start to the smelting season. Trout are still deep, and those fishing jigs and downriggers report fish are at 30-40 metres. Fly fishing the stream mouths should be good with a new moon and dark nights.
Tip of the week
An old salty dog likes to remind people: "Always keep baits moving. You can do this by raising the rod and dropping it, or let out a little more line in strong currents; and always use fresh baits. Change it regularly."
More fishing action can be found at GTTackle.co.nz.
Bite times are 2.50am and 3.15pm tomorrow and 3.40am and 4.05pm on Sunday.