Now that we are well and truly into the grips id mid winter, there have been some fairly predictable changes to what we knew and had only a matter of a fortnight ago. The strong, cold southerlies put paid to the heretofore warm water we had – inshore anyway. Also there are now far fewer forays by intrepid anglers, especially further afield ones. Still those hardy souls who venture forth are generally being rewarded.
Easily the most striking differences noticed here and none of it is particularly good news. The big movers have been water temps followed by a massive exodus of snapper! Prior to the week of strong southerlies, water temps were holding above 17 degrees C with consistent catches of snaps over a broad area of shallow water. Many were calling it the best autumn of snapper fishing in decades, which continued well into June, and the official start of winter.
Then enter south winds, water drops by a solid three (3) degrees and suddenly anglers who were used to limiting out on snapper are now catching none! Listening to the radio was like a death march with each boat describing their own tale of woe! To compound the situation not only were they not catching snapper at all, large throngs of barracouta had moved in – slashing everything in their path! Most moaned about the turn of events but a few smart ones became proactive by moving locations or tactics or both.
Instead of fishing in 15-25 metres a few moved out into 40-50. While fishing was not anything like what they had experienced, they were scratching out that proverbial “feed” – whatever that is, obviously somewhat less than limits! Also others moved camp, philosophy and rigs to now be making good catches of welcome terakihi. Some gurnard and fat kahawai complete the inshore scene which is now the home of 14 degree water – get used to it as it will drop more!
Far different scenario in every regard. While the island is still very active and smolders away emitting its sulfurous cocktail, the water temps and colour is far superior to that of inshore. Seemingly being almost unaffected by the strong southerlies out there, water is blue and nearly 17 degrees – a full three degrees warmer than its inshore counterpart. Bottomfishing, the deep variety, is most difficult with very little being taken for a lot of effort.
Weather has been just too tough for the day droppers to try their broadbill techniques but in shallow water (120 up to less than 80 metres) the tarakihi are biting well, sometimes in doubleheader fashion. Kingis are following suit with some good to excellent action. In close to the island there are hoards of hungry “rats” – seemingly an ocean full of them.
While reef fishing they can make your life problematic. Further out in deeper (80 to over 100 metres) their larger counterparts have been almost as numerous and aggressive at times. While bait seems to be the go as opposed to jigs, the 14-18 kilo fish have produced the good recently. “Whopper of the week” went to Auckland angler Gary Preston with his beauty 31-kilo specimen – well dome Gary.
Not surprising for this time of year, the condition factors on the fish vary greatly. From quite well conditioned ones carrying good weight throughout their bodies to nearly emaciated ones who should weigh another 3-5 kilos for their length. Funny thing is they still fight like crazy! Numerous others in the 20’s makes this fishing very good – for this or any time of year.
One wouldn’t be disappointed with this type of action during high season in spring-early summer! Surface longliners are now focusing their attentions on the water to the north of White through to Waihou Bay, targeting southern Bluefin tuna but also picking up swords and some huge albacore – some of the latter eclipsing 40 kilos! Some progressive anglers have planned trips out wide to chase this mid winter bonanza – now if we can get the weather gods to cooperate.
Only one boat has been able to get out here of late but their anglers enjoyed decent to good fishing. While no “monsters” were apprehended, there was steady catches of hapuka followed by kingis and trumpeter to complete proceedings. Weather will play a larger part in future outings but fishing shouldn’t disappoint.
While many store their gear, mothball the boat, sit by the fire and dream fishing, others are still out there doing it and to good effect. Still plenty to aim for just have to be a little more selective with prevailing weather patterns and dress accordingly. So be a devil, rug up and get out there!