snappper fishing starts cooking
As the seasons shuffle from winter to spring, the level of fish activity starts to rise. Schools of offshore snapper cruise the coastline from Cape Reinga to the Coromandel, preparing to enter traditional spawning grounds. Schools of barracuda keep watch on the tarakihi, helping the tackle companies to stay in business. A curious conspiracy some might say.
Interestingly, in the Bay of Islands, tarakihi fishing is often at it's best as the first snapper scouts start to enter the region. Scouts are generally big fat males and can be identified as visitors by their fine set of teeth. Moochers, on the other hand, are typically territorial and feed on shellfish that reduce their teeth to grinding stumps. Many recreational fishos become so obsessed with targeting these snapper that the opportunity to enjoy the best tarakihi fishing of the year is passed by.
First port of call for the spawning snapper is usually Great Exhibition Bay out side Houhora and Rangaunu harbours. This region is considered by most experts to be the primary remaining snapper spawning area on the east coast of Northland. Decades of over-fishing further south, especially in the Hauraki Gulf, has all but eliminated the big schools of spawning snapper that once paid the Gulf an annual visit.
The reef systems off Tokerau beach in Doubtless Bay are an early spawning ground that hasn't fired so well in recent years. Locals put this down to the over-fishing of this migrant stock by commercial long-liners who have mercilessly targeted the masses of spawning snapper for many years.
Great snapper fishing possies at present would have to include the reefs off the end of Cape Karikari, and the northwest reefs of Doubtless Bay. Further south, male scouts are typically caught off both ends of Stephenson's Island and in amongst the Cavalliis, with Taheke Reef and the fouls near the Rainbow Warrior all worth a visit.
As I write, large schools of snapper are massing off Takou Bay where long-liners are topping off their annual quotas. Those recreational fishos with the boats and technology for deep-water fishing could join the party.
In the Bay of Islands region, the outer extremities of the Bay are worth checking out with Red Head and the Ninepin often first ports of call for the annual visitors. According to some local fishos, another very early point of entry for schooling snapper can be the Albert passage, also obviously worthy of attention.
Frustrated fishos who have identified large schools of fish but cannot interest them in feeding might like to try dropping some flashing metal amongst their target. Often the expert use of a jig can stimulate a reflex action that can end up with a reluctant snapper or two in the fish bin.
Report type: Saltwater
Report date: 12 September 02