Fishing's summer season looks like being a bumper one.

There are also some unusual features reported, like striped marlin chasing hooked snapper to the surface off the Manukau Harbour and gurnard turning up between Motuihe and Waiheke Islands.

Gurnard are a popular table fish and are welcomed by anglers targeting snapper, and while common on the west coast they have been scarce in east coast waters in recent years. However, more and more gurnard are being reported from out in the Hauraki Gulf, off the coast and now in the inner gulf.

Game fishermen are finding plenty of action off the west coast, with kingfish in close and marlin as close as 60 metres of water, along with yellowfin and skipjack tuna. The billfish have even been reported following hooked snapper to the surface.

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Game fishing is also going well on the east coast, from the Bay of Plenty to the Bay of Islands, with both tuna and marlin caught. Game fishing off Great Barrier Island has produced mahimahi, short-billed spearfish and blue and striped marlin.

Snapper fishing has also picked up with fish coming from the west side of Waiheke, Park Point, the channels and the bottom end of Waiheke — Kauri Point and Thumb Point. There are also good numbers of kingfish at Crusoe Rock and the Pakatoa Reef.

When it comes to fishing we never stop learning and there are plenty of things we can do to increase our chances when on the water. For example:

● If snapper fishing is hard, and it can be while they are spawning, try using small jigs or soft baits.
● In strong currents, use fresh bait like strips of kahawai or mackerel. Soft baits like pilchards will come off and you will not know you have lost your bait. But when using tough baits you can add a cube of pilchard to the hook as a sweetener.
● Start fishing at low tide in a channel and as the current increases move out into open water where the current will be softer.
● Plan your fishing so that when anchored the wind and tide are from the same direction. It will always happen on one tide every day — either in or out.
● If drifting, choose days with little wind, or go in the early morning. Drifting too fast makes it difficult keeping baits on the bottom. Wind against tide helps slow the boat, as does a sea anchor or large bucket.
● Look for flocks of birds circling and diving. They are always an indication of fish. But don't drive through the activity and put the fish down; skirt the edges.
● Clean reels regularly by taking the handle out and oiling the main bearing which rotates. On spin reels you can take the spool off and add grease to any moving parts. After each trip reels should be sprayed with a silicon-based spray which will build up a protective coating over time.
● When soft baiting one good approach is to use a spin reel down to 20 metres, and an overhead-type reel like a baitcaster in deeper water. The lure will sink faster and you can thumb the spool to control the descent and pick up strikes.
● Another option is to try fishing at night. The hot, bright daylights hours are the time for swimming and joyriding behind the boat, and fishing can sometimes be hard. But heading out in the evening and anchoring over a patch of foul or where there is a good tide rip flowing and waiting for dark is often the key to catching fish.
● Remember the Coastguard advice and the rules — tell somebody where you plan on going and when you expect to return; carry different means of communication with both cellphone and VHF radio and carry lifejackets for everybody on board and ensure they fit.

On small craft they must be worn. A fire extinguisher and bailer and a back-up means of propulsion are also required — oars or a spare motor. Riding lights on the boat are essential and cabin lights make life easier when working at night, and you don't have to be in deep water for this type of fishing. It is surprising how close to shore the fish will venture, and surfcasters can do very well.

Freshwater
Back country rivers and streams are fishing well and are generally low and clear.
The big trout continue to come from Lake Rotoiti where the hot weather has caused the fish to congregate at around 30 metres, although the depth varies during the day.

While trolling in 20-30 metres has been the best approach on Lake Tarawera, contrary to all theories trout are also congregating in shallow water and can be targeted with jig flies in 5-15 metres in places. It is a question of locating the schools on the fish finder. The stream mouths at Awahou and Waiteti are fishing well on Lake Rotorua, and the trout are in good condition.

Some of the 200 huge fish released from the Ngongotaha Hatchery are being caught including a 6kg rainbow from the Waiteti Stream mouth.

Tip of the week

Carry a variety of baits and lures, with tackle needed to deploy both, as on any day one method will outfish the others. More fishing action can be found at www.GTtackle.co.nz.
Bite times

Bite times are 11.20am and 4.10pm tomorrow and 11.20am and 11.45pm on Sunday.