Many years ago I got talking to an old ex commercial long liner as we stood on the shore up north and watched a huge swell pounding a reef, son he said remember this if you want to catch a feed of fish and there is a big blow about to hit the country get out on the water within twenty four hours of it hitting the coast or as soon as it is safe to get out once it has passed. Snapper head for shelter before and during a storm hiding behind islands rocks and reefs, they feed prior to the storm for sustenance and after because they are scavengers. When the swell hits the coast it rips up the kelp and seaweed dislodging and exposing the limpets snails kina creating a huge seafood smorgasbord to feed on.
The met office has been giving plenty of notice about the upcoming storm and remembering what the old fella had said bugger it lets go! The boat needed a run plus I needed a fishing fix so I dropped the lines on the marina and I gave the boat a quick squirt to a local reef in the inner harbour, with wind and tide going in the same direction I laid up on a short anchor (this lessens the boat surging around) to fish back on some low foul.
I always spend a bit of time surveying an area to know exactly where I want to drop the anchor to lay the stern to the target area, in weather like this and right on the edge of a front I have found over the years the fish to be more in the foul rather than out on the edges and sand close by. The Furuno TZ touch showed exactly that and the only fish to be found were in the kelp as I expected and with the weather about to really turn to custard in a few hours it was going to be a matter of forget about a burly trail just get the baits in the water fast. Ideally I should have put a burly bomb down but when you are on our own its just another thing to remember if the anchor drags and you have to bail out quickly but once I had three baits out I chopped up ground bait and tossed it out. Ground bait is often more effective in these conditions as when it is tossed high the wind takes it well away from the boat and with what’s been dropped over the stern you get a good overall coverage.
With a boat surging around on the anchor and the wind picking up I reduced it down to only three rods, two rods had to be put in the rod holders were rigged with solids baits of jack mac’s and bonito belly flaps while the rod I was holding I used a pilchard. With the local reef residents being very picky they would just pick then drop it, by keeping the rod tip down and close to the water and constantly taking up any slack line I could keep in touch with the bait to feel when to strike, a lot of tiny picks turned into solid fish but lost due to just being lip hooked.
The two solid baits were getting constantly picked at and it is the feeding action that often brings in the bigger fish to see what is going on and being a solid bait there is enough left for them to grab on to, in conditions like this I should have changed them over to circle hooks.
Long story short having nailed five nice snapper, one horse kahawai and released a number of snapper around the 35 cm mark in a couple of hours it was time to bail with the wind getting up over thirty knots. Thinking back to the wise old commercial fisherman’s advice I think it is only right and proper that I rip out and check out how the fish are feeding once the blow has passed. But just remember “no” fish is worth risking a life so play it safe out there.