With the holidaymakers having gone home, the Bream Bay/Mangawhai area is fast returning to ‘situation normal’ as far as the fishing is concerned.
The pilchard schools have been replaced by the anchovies so for the lure fishers amongst us, it is time to trade in those seven-inch softbait tails for smaller more naturally coloured models.
Fishing the anchovy schools can be a little different than targeting the pilchard ones. They tend to be moving a little faster and concentrated over a wider area. The birds and mammals will still be present and the normal ‘rules’ apply – don’t worry so much about being right on top of the workups, fish the ‘exhaust’ where the action has been and the casualties as drifting towards the bottom. See Nik Key’s Whangarei-Bream Bay report for more on this.
I have found adhering to the bite times has produced the goods for us, whether it be chasing snapper or the billfish. Leading up to the bottom of the tide and the first hour or so of incoming works for me. Go to https://www.fishing.net.nz/fishing-advice/bite-times/ I will admit to a vested interest in www.fishing.net.nz website but hand on heart, it works for me!
In the main I have been crossing the bar and heading south off the big sand dunes and down past Te Arai. There has been some bird activity and the occasional short-lived workups out around the 50 metre-plus mark. Anything with orange or yellow has been doing the damage – sliders, inchikus, slow-jigs and micro-jigs – they have all had their moments, but collectively have never failed us. But - and there is always a but! - I tried a purple-headed slider with black and purple skirts and it proved to be the lure of the day so don’t be afraid to experiment when the go-to choice is not firing. And wash my mouth out with anchovy and garlic secret sauce, adding a sliver of squid to the hooks can make all the difference, but I didn’t tell you that!
Mike Leese from Mangawhai’s Fishmeister Charters has found the drift fishing hard, but anchoring up and deploying bait and berley at the Hen and Chicks has been working for him and his clients. He says as soon as he gets the berley trail going the baitfish turn up followed by trevally, XOS kahawai, and snapper. There has been the odd kingfish thrown in the mix just to keep his clients on their toes.
Mike reports big schools of maomao in the area, with trevally mixed in amongst them. He says he has not encountered a fish suffering from ‘milky flesh’ for a little while but has noted the snapper have very little in their stomachs. It has resulted in an aggressive bite once the berley kicks in.
Another regular at the Hen and Chicks, Steve Martinovich at the helm of the Marsden Cove-based charter vessel Sumo, has found the fishing similar to that described by Mike. His clients have also been going home with good bags of trevally and snapper from bait and berley sessions.
James Arkell with one of several nice snapper caught fishing in the Mangawhai Estuary recently.
Mangawahi Harbour has been fishing well, especially early and on an ebbing tide. Dave Gurr from Mangawhai Fish and Dive fished the harbour from the shore with friend Alistair Arkell and his son James, where they landed 10 snapper in one session, the best being 50cm.
While the surfcasting has not been as hot as it was before Xmas, keen beach fisher Kaden Williams has still been producing the goods at the change of light and tides. Fishing into the night off the Waipu Beach has reaped its rewards. He says the mullet have been cruising close to the shoreline, so slidebaiting with a livebait has been one successful option. In his last outing, he landed a 1.5 metre bronze whaler shark, while his mate hooked an eagle ray – all good fun on light surfcasting gear.
For the gamefishers, this season is proving to be exceptional. Mangawhai-based boats have been among the action, fishing out past the Hen and Chicks to the knolls where the water has been warm (23.5°C) and inky blue, with plenty of bait combining to provide some good billfish action. The occasional yellowfin has been in the mix.
February 2024 - Grant Dixon
New Zealand Fishing News Magazine.
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