Fishing – Looking for fish with eyes on the sky

The water temperature has dropped to about 13-14°C in the Gulf and there has been some pretty awesome fishing in deeper water.
Flat Rock and Nelson’s rock off the back of Kawau have been fishing reliably with a good average size of around 40cm.
Out in the middle of the Gulf, particularly in the triangle between Little Barrier, Horn rock and Great Barrier, big snapper and kingfish are in feeding in the work ups. The dolphins and whales round up schools of pilchards and mackerel to the surface, triggering the gannets to start diving for a cut of the feast.
The prime indicator for finding these work ups is the birds. It is hard to see feeding mammals from sea level because you are so close to the water, so keep your eyes in the sky and watch for the birds. Or better yet, take out some binoculars and use them! Just about any bait, soft bait or lure will work when this action is happening and the popularity of Inchiku and Kabura style lures is certainly still gaining momentum. I prefer to use an overhead reel on a light parabolic rod of about 6ft long. This allows me to fight a fish around the motor if I need to. The kingfish love these lures, as do the bigger snapper and kahawai that are not far below pilchard schools. There is a huge range to choose from.
If you are having trouble finding the birds, try drift fishing reefs or wash rocks with soft baits or the tried and proven method of anchoring and berleying up. There are little tweaks you can make to your tackle to improve your catch rate over the colder months when the fish are not as hard on the bite.
Using a lighter fluorocarbon leader works but you do run the risk of losing big fish to the bottom. Fluorocarbon has good knot strength, high abrasion resistance and closely matches the light refraction of water making it almost invisible under the surface. Changing to small, light gauge circle hooks can help when the fish are a little shy. Allow the fish to run and then slowly raise the rod tip to set the hook. The hook will almost always set in the corner of the mouth too which is both good for the angler and the fish.
The weather might not be heating up anytime soon, but the fishing sure will. Make sure you’re ready for your next trip out. Don’t go out under-prepared – it could mean the difference between freshly caught fish for dinner or trip to the local fish and chippie.