Bream Bay will play host to the majority of anglers fishing next week’s (Friday 16-Saturday 17 Feb) Century Batteries Beach and Boat Fishing Contest, the country’s biggest tournament event with around 1500 anglers expected.
Based out of Marsden Cove on the southern shores of Whangarei harbour, the event attracts entries from boat, kayak and land-based anglers – all of whom have produced the winning snapper at some point or another.
The fishing area covers from Home point in the north to Bream Tail in the south, all of the Whangarei harbour (except the reserves!) and out to the 100-metre line beyond the Mokohinau islands. It also encompasses the Hen and Chicken Islands and Sail Rock.
A week out, Metvu’s long range forecast shows 10kn winds out of the easterly quarter which should be good for the fishing, allowing the boat-based contestants almost unfettered access to any of their fishing spots inside the tournament area.
A number of crews fishing from launches and the larger trailer boats will head offshore to the Mokohinaus where they will overnight. The fishing there can be fickle, but it does hold good fish. My advice would be to find some deep foul (40-50 metres) or a drop-off close to the islands and at the former drift livebaits and the latter, berley up a storm. Both locations are ideal for winkling out a decent snapper and there is always a chance of a kingfish, so have a livebait out under a balloon.
In recent weeks there have been some good trevally and kahawai schools around. The same applies to the Hen and Chicken Islands and there will be kingfish lurking in the immediate vicinity – along with the odd mako and bronze whaler, which will be spectacular sport while it lasts! The bait schools have been around Coppermine Reef and any promontory where there is reasonable current flow. With the amount of boat traffic the event generates, I would be looking for the deeper pins and drop-offs once the sun comes over the horizon, otherwise get you backside out of the bunk early, get in close and berley up.
Gurnard is one of the target species. We have been having good success over the sand on the gurnard around the 30-metre mark throughout the bay and there have been some good specimens caught.
Sliders and inchiku jigs, garnished with a sliver or two of squid – the tentacles are perfect – have been doing the business with the orange or gold/red colours the ones to go-to. Fish them astern out of the rod holders while your soft-bait for a snapper – works for us!
I have had several reports of good snapper coming from the shallows at Bream Head, all the way north to ocean Beach. An early start might be the thing to do here as it is an area that attracts a great deal of boat traffic.
Several winners fishing from the rocks and kayaks in recent times have fished in close north of Ocean Beach and up around the Helena Bay area. Big baits, fished early in the morning or later in the evening, have produced the goods. Half a slab of fresh kahawai or trevally will attract the attention of the big boys while avoiding the pickers.
If you are a contestant looking for the ‘average’ prizes as opposed to those big catches, soft-baiting on the edge of the channel in the area around the lead beacons will be worth a look.
Similarly, where the shallow panhandle in front of the refinery drops from around 10 metres to 16 metres, soft-baiting on the slope can be productive. In recent weeks New Penny has been the soft-bait tail that has fished well.
The tournament also has a measuring section so why not catch, record and release your fish – don’t forget to take some non-offset circle hooks to do the catch and release gig properly.
Good luck to all the contestants – be safe, and courteous, out there! Grant Dixon
Mangawhai based charter operator Tony Orton (Offshore Adventures) has been putting his clients onto some nice kingfish offshore recently. The good news, the fish pictured was released and is swimming out there for you to catch.