I’m guessing there will still be a few game fish around and tuna schools are likely to still be in close. Snapper will be where you find them and off Auckland’s west coast there are snapper to be caught year round. However it can be a real effort to get past sharks once the cooler weather arrives. That’s likely to be some time off yet so if you get the chance, go for it! For now I’d be choosing to fish in close out to 30m or maybe a little deeper. While mullet is undoubtedly a good bait to use, squid and kahawai work very well also and we usually take a variety.
I often hear how lots of rain put fish off the bite due to the lowering of salinity levels and as the Manukau harbour has such a huge catchment it seems like a sound theory to explain away those hard fishing times. As I’m writing this Dan the Weatherman is telling the whole country to expect a month’s worth of rain in two days so if that theory is correct then we are in from some terrible fishing.
I have a couple of problems with the freshwater theory that is so strongly believed by many fishermen though. I have had two memorable occasions when despite huge quantities of freshwater mixing it up I’ve had some epic fishing. Most recently that was a day after one of the heaviest rainfalls I’ve ever seen. That was just a month ago and we couldn’t miss with nice fat snapper only too keen to take our hooks. We were anchored in less than 5m of water. Many years ago I was fishing with a couple of mates in 10m off Port Waikato. As the tide turned and the dirty brown water started to flow out of the mighty Waikato River, snapper were just climbing all over themselves to take a nice rest in our chilly bin.
In both instances there was undoubtedly a huge amount of freshwater involved so you can probably understand why I don’t believe that theory. The higher up the water column the fresher the water will be for sure but does it matter? I don’t believe so. Anyway my point is just get out fishing and don’t pay too much attention to the theories. That way you get to dream up your own! Our last trip out was two weeks ago, with the moon overhead, a sou’ easter gently puffing away and an outgoing tide on a bright sunny day and the fishing just got better and better as we approached midday. I’ve heard many people say you couldn’t get a worse combination. What we had was the best snapper fishing I’ve ever experienced in the harbour. In my opinion the harbour has never fished so well for snapper and kingfish. Don’t look for excuses not to go. Find reasons to do it.
While many people put their boats away after Easter they really are missing out on some of the best fishing around. Now is the time to hit the harbour and although there will be ups and downs, with the right approach you will experience the kind of fishing that most anglers won’t believe. With the Manukau Harbour’s reputation for small snapper well deserved, there are some real giants out there too. The trick is to find them and this is the time for big snapper – right through to August or later.
I’ll summarise my tips for big autumn snapper along with my latest top gurnard fishing tricks in my next report - right on cue for the very popular Grunter Hunter competition that myself and a handful of other Counties Sport Fishing Club guys run. With $2000 up for grabs for first place you would be really silly to miss it. Lock it in for June 11.
Til then, take care. Smudge.