We live in interesting times, from now till the next couple of months when the snapper are spawning it can be the most frustrating time to fish. Pre and post spawning snapper have one thing on their minds and it’s not eating hence you will often see a truckload of fish showing on the sounder but still they won’t take a bait.
I have just had a session like this out at the Noisies where the snapper where stacked up from the bottom to the top of a rise yet we could only manage to get a few smaller fish to take a bait and even then each one had slowly picked at the bait and then swallowed it right down. Talking to a mate who runs a charter boat he said he was heading back in as after three hours of fishing in the deep [30m] as he had only one snapper onboard, hence a change of game plan.
One of the best options while the fish are in spawning mode is to look for areas where there is current on the end of reefs or headlands especially where they drop off into deeper water or if the tides are small is to target a shallow reef area and burly up a storm.
On the outgoing tide with a southerly wind the reef that extends out from Maria Island to the north-east gives a bit of both option A and B, anchoring in around 13ms you can fish back towards and down the reef but the key here is the burly trail will go around and over the structure where it drops off into deeper water. This is one of those spots given the right conditions you can really cover your bases with a live bait under a balloon [there were a couple of good kings lurking around the reef] running plus stray line and running rigs and as one of my mates did as the tide dropped off cast out a soft bait which resulted in the biggest fish of the day.
The result of a solid ground bait and burly trail over time brought the fish back towards the boat and as Murphy would have it just as the sun was dropping and it was time to bail home they started to get more aggressive.
For me over the Xmas period I prefer to fish the change of light especially in the evening, as from around 4-30 the angle of the sun dips it seems the change of refraction of light in the water has the same effect on snapper as me, we both start to get a bit of a hunger on and with me I can feel a cleansing ale or a wee rum coming on. Often heading out past the 20m finger behind Motutapu I will go over the area during the middle of the day the snapper were few and far between and well spread out on the bottom. Covering the same area at the change of light I will find it not only loaded with fish but they are more schooled up rather than spread out which makes them aggressive and competitive when taking a bait. Many a time during the spawning months I have gone from zero to hero in less than half an hour on the change of light. Some people would say why not just go fishing in the evening? Who would not want to spend the whole day out on the water, as it is only by spending time on the water do you learn about your surroundings.