The one thing you can rely on when it comes to fishing is that there is nothing you can really rely on. While an area may be red hot for a certain amount of time, sooner or later that’s going to change. Things have certainly changed out here.
The predictable, almost too easy to catch big hungry snapper that were schooling up in 60m have started to move on. You will now find them in shallower water and less concentrated than they were pre-Christmas. You will find them in close in areas that have some sort of low foul or features such as shell fish beds or sudden changes in depth. You will also find them in loose schools at all depths from just beyond the surf zone in some areas out to 60m or deeper. Keep an eye on your sounder and if you see fish on the bottom stop and drop a line. Give it 30 minutes before moving on.
While most trailer boats are fishing for snapper, gurnard are often a welcome by-catch and they are in great condition with fish of 1kg or more featuring in angler’s chilly bins. Kingfish are also helping to mix it up with more showing up in recent years from out the coast. You can target them with jigs and stick baits, or even a good solid dropper rig baited up with whole squid. I use a recurve hook with the squid hooked only once through the tail. You cover your bases for snapper and kings that way.
I have only heard of one marlin so far and tuna schools are still out wide but with blue water in at 70m. I’m sure that the next spell of good conditions will change all that.
The harbour has also changed significantly in the last month. We are getting limit catches of snapper some days and in 6 trips since Christmas we haven’t had a disappointing day yet. We’ve had to be selective about where we fish as the wind has made conditions challenging. We do know our way around the harbour and know how the change of tide will affect the conditions, it’s imperative that you plan your trips accordingly. Anyway, it has been a remarkable contrast to what was in large a very disappointing autumn, winter and spring. While the fish haven’t been big we are getting snapper up to 50cm, gurnard to 47cm, some modest trevally and a lot of ‘rat’ kingfish with the occasional good solid one amongst them.
We’re catching all these species in the same areas, from 3 to 11 metres deep. Typically we look for some change in the sea floor, usually a gut running from a channel up onto the banks, a bay with a rocky headland nearby or some sort of structure on the bottom in deeper water. I always try a dropper rig and a strayline rig together. One will almost always out fish the other and when I figure out why that is I’ll let you know!
The bigger kingfish are taking live baits and we have found nose hooked Jack mackerel fished on the bottom with a 3 ounce ball sinker right down onto the hook with a one metre 100lb trace to be most effective.
Enjoy the water and stay safe.