Spring has well and truly made its presence known over the last few weeks. Days are getting longer but typically this time of year spells rain and strong westerlies. This means we can’t always get out to the sites where we would like to fish, but recently there has been plenty of good snapper fishing inshore.
Locally the reefs around the peninsula have been producing catches of snapper, kahawai and the odd kingfish. Position yourself as close to shore as comfortable and use lots of berley, making sure the wind and tide are both moving the same way. Stray line with little to no weight using fresh caught or big, bloody baits. Famous baits to use with this style of fishing are fresh mackerel and piper if you can catch them, a big slab of scaled kahawai or whole bullet tuna. The metabolism of fish tends to be a lot slower at this time of year because of how cold the water is. However, naturally they will eventually need to eat. Some days it seems like you’ve tried absolutely everything and still can’t buy a bite! Those are the days where 10kg of berley and a bit of current will go a long way towards filling the bin.
When the weather plays ball and it’s safe enough to venture out a bit deeper, we tend to hunt down fish in either current or work ups. Predatory fish naturally shadow the large schools of pilchards and anchovies that move into the Hauraki Gulf waters during spring and can be seen moving further into the gulf later in the season.
October normally marks the arrival of the bigger spawning fish as they move into the bays and inshore areas to school up. Areas like The Firth, Whangaparaoa Bay and south of Whangaparaoa are the first to see these fish in our area and all have good tide flow that allows for easy movement and feeding.
This is a great time to head out armed with softbaits, slow jigs and knife jigs. Unlike bait and burley fishing that is done on the anchor, jig and softbait fishing is done on the drift so you can cover the ground more, and quickly relocate to be under working birds or move back to where you successfully caught fish. Drift fishing with large 7- inch softbaits can also result in bigger fish to bite aggressively through the action and profile of the softbait. Because these fish are moving in to spawn, I’d highly recommend only fishing in water deeper than 25m if you intend to take every fish that comes up. If you are fishing out wide and catch a big fish, do not release it! Take it home and enjoy it on the table. It is likely that any snapper caught in such depths will suffer from barotraumas on assent and later die from internal damage of some form even if released. Just because your fish swam off, does not mean it survived! If you want to fish for fun and release most of your fish, or simply be a little more selective with the fish you do take, try to fish in water shallower than 15m to insure the fish do not suffer any internal damage on the way up.
As always, only take what you actually need and try to safely return any small or unwanted fish back to the ocean with care. Handle your fish with respect so we can all enjoy our bountiful seafood in the future. These are the fish we will be catching in a few years so let’s all do our part to ensure there’s plenty around.