Love these calm autumn days!
Headed out of Sandspit towards Kawau Island with John Eichelsheim in his modest-sized Stabi' side-console on Saturday, and enjoyed one of the best day's fishing in two or three months!
We found birds within a few minutes of setting off. (At this time of year, just a few fluttering terns is enough, but rafts of mutton birds are also good indicators - they're often sitting on top of baitfish schools, waiting for them to be forced up by the widespread kahawai in the area. Groups of penguins and shags are similarly positive signposts - even gulls! And, of course, seeing feeding kahawai is a gimmie - they were everywhere on this day. All these creatures love eating anchovies...)
As expected, the favourable tide meant the fishing was full-on right from the start, and we could have gone home within the hour with our limit if we'd wanted to! However, we hadn't travelled an hour from Auckland to head straight home again, and luckily the shallow water offered excellent release circumstances. The snapper were suckers for soft-plastics in Motor Oil - both 5 and 7" - with New Penny and Bruised Banana working pretty well, too. We found casting and retrieving was more effective than dragging - a big turn around from last week where the opposite was the case. Also, because the wind was against the strong tidal flow, impeding the boat's drift speed, it was actually better to cast well out and slightly behind the boat's drift direction to maintain line tension and enable bites to be detected. Interesting, my slightly heavier jig head (half ounce) was getting bites within the first handful of jiggles upon touching down, while John was getting his strikes during the lure's descent - but not converting them nearly as well due to the breeze and the lure's lighter weight creating more slack in his line. Later, when the wind got up a bit more and the water we were fishing was deeper, we had to change to 5/8 and 3/4oz to keep catching. As is always the case when soft-baiting, it pays to experiment!
The end result was a heap of snapper to 5 kilos, which John released while still in the water, along with a bunch of big, hard-fighting kahawai. I have a love-hate relationship with the latter: they're awesome fighters, but they take so long to bring boat-side and are hard to release; they won't stop struggling! In this case there were times when we were both hooked up to them, and they were charging around everywhere at high speed, threatening to cut the other off - we had to be quick to avoid this happening!
Mark Kitteridge, Editor of NZ Fishing News