I’m not a big fan of fishing the west coast in winter but I am going to have to rethink that. My advice for this time of year is normally to go deep, straight out to 60m or more. I may have to rethink that too.
I also tell people to be prepared to move because when sharks turn up, that is your only option. I don’t mind catching a shark or two but I hate losing gear to them. I’ll never rethink that because that’s just how it is.
Last Saturday was a stunner of a day and while the conditions were good, the sea was a little rough in the morning but smoothed off as the day progressed. That’s what everyone tells me as I stayed home after turning down a trip in the hope of recovering from the man flu and I’m still trying to shake it.
However, I’ve spoken to six skippers who went out and this is their feedback: Mr J, who kindly offered me a spot on his boat but I had to decline, went to 65m for a bin full of big healthy snapper due south of the bar. His by-catch included some great gurnard too with very few sharks.
Mr P headed south also and fished in 38m for an easy snapper limit of fish from 2 to 4kg. ‘It was too easy, we were catching them two at a time, with no sharks’. That’s how his story went.
Mr W fished in shallow at 16m, well south of the bar and landed an easy limit with some very big fish, the biggest two he estimated at 15lb and 21lb. He measured the biggest at 82cm so I agree that it was certainly in the 20lb club. I’ve seen the pictures and it’s all true.
He also got to mess with 6 or 7 large tope that used up his supply of 60lb trace and lost a couple of other big fish when he had to resort to 30ld trace. Mr W#2 fished in 23m just south of the bar for some pannies but also managed a nice 9lb fish. Sharks outnumbered the keepers by 3:1, but he still he managed a good catch.
Mr H went ‘straight out’ from the Manukau bar to 40m. He got some very nice fish up to 10lb with only an occasional shark. Another easy limit.
Mr E went to 40m off the Waikato bar and again, an easy limit of fish to 15lb with only a shark here and there. Now all that sounds like some amazing fishing! What surprised me is that only one of those boats was plagued by sharks and the others had either some shark action or none at all.
However every day is different and you do need to be prepared to move if the sharks turn up. You also need to be prepared for big fish and don’t go under gunned at this time of the year or you may lose a serious amount of tackle.
It’s a risk worth taking though because the mighty west coast can turn up some of the best snapper fishing on offer. The harbour continues to produce gurnard, some real horses too. Scallop season isn’t far away either!
Stay safe, Smudge