The fishing has fired up in Bream Bay big time with the arrival of the baitfish inshore.
Just prior to labour Weekend the action started on the snapper and kingfish front, right along Bream Bay from Ruakaka down to Langs.
Bird activity is the indicator. With gannets crashing in and the shearwaters chasing pilchards and whitebait driven to the surface, it is a great sight to see. Beneath are the snapper, kingfish, kahawai and john dory, ravaging the bait schools from below.
The end result has been full bins for most anglers most of the time. The surfcasters and the beach longliners have also be making great catches.
The best snapper I have heard off came off Uretiti and pulled the scales to 24lbs before it was put back. It is good to see many people are releasing these bigger fish. The good news is they are being caught in relatively shallow water and can be put back, confident they will survive.
The kingfish are there in numbers with fish to 25kgs caught. Deploying livebaits under a balloon as you drift-fish with soft-bait is one way to cover several bases, but if it is near gannet activity, you are likely your catch will be a feathered rather than one with scales. You re better to add a sliding sinker above the swivel and drag it along behind the boat. Some bigger mid-water snapper are being caught this way as well.
Earlier this week I was in Bream Bay with the Blackdog Cat crew doing a review of their new 6.5 metre hardtop – a great fishing rig – and found the action concentrated at the southern end of the 'Golf Course' and the Tip Road beach access.
While the weather wasn't pleasant with frequent squalls blasting through, we caught a heap of snapper to eight kilos and I had a great tussle with a 15kg kingfish on my soft-bait outfit. The go-to softbaits for us where Gulp! Nemesis in the Nuclear Chicken colour; the Catch! Livies in mackerel colours; and the Z-Man seven-inch Jerk Shads in pilchard imitation livery – no surprises with the latter!
Interestingly, my two go-to favourites – Bruised Banana and Motor Oil – didn't feature in the mix. One of our team, Jonny Oogle, had a great morning, concentrating on stick-baiting for the kingfish. He caught 10 or 12 fish averaging around 12kgs, keeping a couple for the smoker. If you intend catching these fish for the sport, it is a good idea to turn down the barbs and replace the treble hooks with singles to make releasing them easier and safer for all concerned.
I 'drop and dragged' a variety of lures for snapper from inchikus through the sliders, fishing them rod holder style, but didn't get one bite despite the soft-baits going off. I also found, the bigger the soft-bait tail, the bigger the fish we caught, including john dory.
A couple of my fishing buddies have ventured out a little deeper. The area known as the 'Fingers' – almost directly in a line from Waipu Cove out to the Hen Island in 35 metres – and denoted on the chart by a 'squiggly' contour line, fished well with some greater snapper being caught. Over the next couple of weeks I would expect good congregations of solid snapper to be around some of the deeper offshore pins.
The only sour note was the Labour Weekend presence of a super seiner hovering up the bait schools around McGregor Rock . For those that don't know, McGregors is a popular recreational patch of foul just out from Bream Tail and in close proximity to the Mangawhai Harbour entrance.
While it might be all legal for this vessel to fish there, it is morally corrupt for such a large vessel to be fishing so close to shore the crew can hear the dogs barking. Have the big companies become so desperate for a catch they need to target such low value species – and for what, turning them into fish meal?
Check out Guy Manning's video https://goo.gl/fTvcTE
– Grant Dixon