Bream Bay Fishing Report - 03/11/22

Snapper action ‘patchy’

While I haven’t fished Bream Bay for 10 days or so, everyone I have spoken to in preparing this report has described the action as ‘patchy’. The common theme has been: find the birds, find the fish.

That was certainly the case the last time I was out. We tried all our normal reliable haunts, picking up the occasional fish at each spot. But it was not until we went out deeper on a line from Bream Tail to the western point of the Hen that the snapper sign on the bottom increased. Tony Orton had clients aboard Stella for an inshore charter and had stumbled across a small work-up. When we arrived the birds had settled, but the snapper were holding in place and still on the chew – we ended up with a good catch on ice.

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Tony reports that the Mokohinaus, his normal fishing grounds, have been producing steady (rather than spectacular) results over his last couple of trips out wide. The kingfish are there in good numbers, but the size has been a little smaller than usual, with most in the 100-110cm range. Similarly, there are plenty of snapper, and sometimes it is difficult to get the slow-trolled live baits away from them. Tony reports the bigger snapper and kingfish are now frequenting the deeper pins and foul, 80-110 metres down.

The better Mokohinau catches have come from the deeper pins, Tony Orton reports.

Marsden Cove-based charter skipper Steve Martinovich concurs with the ‘patchy’ description. He says when the whales and dolphins are in attendance, so are the snapper. When it has been too uncomfortable to fish Bream Bay’s middle ground, he has taken his clients to the Hen and Chicks where bait and berley, his stock-in-trade approach, has been working well.

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Steve reports that the Whangarei harbour has been fishing well. When it has been too rough to get out, crews have been fishing the channel in the vicinity of the port and doing well on the snapper and trevally using mullet baits, although kahawai have been noticed for their absence.

At the other end of the bay, Mangawhai charter operator Mike Leese, aboard Fishmeister, is another one who agrees with the ‘patchy’ description. When he’s encountered work-ups, the fishing is hot. But otherwise it has been hard. He says the 25-50 metre mark off Bream Tail has been his go-to area of late. He has done well with a mixture of lures and baits; a butterflied jack mackerel dropped back when on the drift has been producing some of his bigger fish.

On a recent trip with New Plymouth anglers on board, Mike was struggling for a decent catch until he came across a work-up in 70 metres between the Hen and the Chicken islands. A few short drifts and a very slow day turned into a session to remember, with many of the fish in the 10-15lb bracket.

Returning home from the Mokes, Tony Orton says he is running over good sign out the back of Sail Rock in 60-70 metres, with workups as far out as 85 metres, which will be worth a look when conditions allow.

An update on the poor-conditioned snapper and trevally anglers have been encountering in the Hauraki Gulf/bream Bay areas: the Ministry of Fisheries says these ‘skinny snapper’, which exhibit soft, mushy flesh when filleted, are not being affected by some nasty disease or parasite. Instead, the issue seems to lie in unusual seasonal environmental conditions.

Biosecurity New Zealand has been investigating widespread reports relating to this condition. To date, diagnostic analysis of samples at the Animal Health Laboratory (AHL) has not indicated any disease or parasitic infection as the cause behind the issue. Further sampling and testing is being completed to ensure the accuracy of these results.

Grant Dixon


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