The sea temperature is unusually warm this season, in fact over five degrees warmer than normal on the west coast. The Hauraki Gulf too is pretty warm and local sea temperatures are around 22°C. The influx of snapper, kingfish, sharks and other species has been noted as better than previous years and scientists are even predicting a “snapper boom” with a few years of excellent breeding conditions.
Modern angling methods and equipment make it pretty easy to catch a fish for dinner these days. Those without GPS and other fish finding electronic wizardry rely on indicators such as diving birds, surface feeding fish (eg kahawai) and historical knowledge.
February and March are typically when the fish start to pour through the harbour channels and inshore to begin topping up their reserves for the upcoming cooler weather, although with such warm water this season the snapper may hang out in deeper water a little longer.
There has been good snapper fishing in the 50m area east of Kawau Island lately (avoid the no fishing zone) for both bait and lure fishers. Sliders and Jitterbug lures in green and orange are popular along with amber and pumpkin seed coloured soft baits. Eighty and 100 gram lures should get you down to the waiting fish and if softbaiting in this depth, make sure you have enough weight in your jig head to ensure you can reach the bottom – ¾ oz should get you there in calm conditions.
There are quite a lot of bait fish and smaller snapper out in this deeper water so bait fishers would be advised to take a selection of firm baits to avoid losing bait all the time. Fishers can use berley in deeper waters by lowering a berley pot down to near the bottom. Collapsible berley pots are available that save space and help get the berley where you want.
Inshore we can start to see even more kingfish around the bays and headlands as they patrol the bays and coast for bait schools. Casting stickbaits is a good way to prospect for them around headlands and Nomad have a cool range of stickbaits and lures designed for our conditions. Live baits can also be used from the shore using sliding bait rigs and from the boat by either straylining them or setting them under a balloon. Try to match the size of your hook to the size of your bait to ensure it lasts longer and swims as naturally as it can.