For landbased fisherman Peter Hwang, there is no better time to fish than first light...
Most people underestimate the hard work that goes in to getting big fish and consistent catch rates. Luck, I’ve learnt, doesn’t have much to do with it. If you really want to be serious about becoming a successful fisher, whatever style of fishing you do, a lot of effort is required – and this starts with being the first out of bed.
“Is it worth waking up early just to go fishing?” That question often pops into my head when my alarm goes off at 3:00am. It can be a challenge, especially if you enjoy your sleep, and when you’re on your way to the fishing grounds, it’s easy for self-doubt to kick in. However, when you fight through the sleepiness and actually get to the spot, it’s a whole different story. Whether it is on the boat, wharf, rocks or the beach, being up first means you get the chance to witness some amazing events that most people don’t see every day, if ever.
Whenever I can, I try to fish in the early morning. By getting a head start to the day, you are fishing when most people are still asleep, meaning that no one else is around and you have the fishing spot all to yourself. This gives you some quiet time, as well as the freedom to secure any spot that you find fishy. Another benefit is that the temperature of the water is usually cold in the morning, which encourages many fish species to swim out from the deeper water and around the shallows to find food. The early morning sun isn’t too bright either, so this is helpful for species that are sensitive to light.
The prime species that most people love to target in the morning are snapper and kingfish. I found that these two species are always around in closer before the sunrise as they are taking advantage of the cooler waters and snapping up any sleepy baitfish that aren’t wary. It can get uncomfortably hot during the middle of the day, even for the anglers, and the fish will typically find safety in the deeper waters away from sharks that will happily snap up any fish that are led astray. When the sun is fully up, the rising temperature, as well as the bright light, will eventually put the fish off, and they will retreat out of the shallows.
Another advantage of morning fishing is that time is on your side. Unlike fishing in the evening where you are limited by the setting sun, you can fish almost the whole day if you want to – but that depends if the fish are still biting after the sun rises. If you do decide to stop after sunrise, you then have the whole day to process the fish, instead of working through the night only to wake up early for work feeling sore and exhausted. You also have plenty of time to eat your fresh dinner on the day you caught the fish, and prepare it in any way you want.
Peter has had a lot of success in the early hours of the morning.
For surfcasting in particular, I generally find the early morning period to be productive as I do not have to cast that extra mile to reach my target species and the fish are usually hungry for breakfast. And since I am there early, if one spot doesn’t work, there is always time to go to a different spot and try fishing there for a few hours before calling it a day.
For wharf fishing, I find the more predatory fish like kingfish to be more active and hungry for some livebait action in the morning. Being on the wharf early also means I have time to catch enough live bait to ensure that I am prepared for when the kingfish turn up.
For boat fishing, you don’t have to travel that extra distance in the morning and can instead focus on the closer spots. You also get all of the advantages mentioned above, including more time to catch your baits and explore different spots.
My most memorable early morning fishing session was off a wharf in the heart of Auckland City a few years ago. It was around 7:30am on a weekend and I arrived a bit later than I wanted to, but I was all alone so I was able to secure a spot that I trusted. I wasn’t able to land the snapper that I was after, but instead managed to bag myself a gurnard, two jack mackerel that measured 27cm long and a very long kahawai that was 57cm long. After two hours of hot action, the bite stopped completely and when the other anglers arrived, they caught nothing so they ended up missing the action. Not a bad session for a city wharf!
February 2022 - Peter Hwang
New Zealand Fishing News Magazine.
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