The fishing throughout Bream Bay has slowed generally over the past fortnight, with holidaymakers especially not always enjoying the best of what the area has to offer.
You can put this down to a couple of things – firstly, the work-up action we all enjoyed over the last few months has dissipated with the usual indicators – dolphins, whales and gannets – being noticeable by their absence. Secondly, the bloody easterly conditions that have plagued the North Island’s eastern seaboard for a few weeks now have kept many boats at home.
It doesn’t mean the fish are not there, it is more the case that they are less concentrated, and you need to find them – so where to start?
Firstly, a change in tactics seems to be the call. Two charter operators spoken to – Mike Leese from Mangawhai’s Fishmeister Charters and Steve Martinovich from Bream Bay Charters out of Marsden Cove aboard Sumo – have both been doing well at the Hen and Chicken Islands where they say the snapper fishing has been good, with some excellent trevally and kahawai thrown into the mix.
Steve reports the Mokohinau Islands have been “fish central” for the last few months. “We have never missed,” he says – but the weather is the regulating factor.
Shannon Neho got amongst the last of the workups, producing some nice snapper on the 10” Livie soft-baits.
A Whangarei crew went to the Mokes during the last break in the easterly conditions and were targeting kingfish off one of the deeper pins to the NE of the islands – check your bathymetric chart for the marks – when they got into some respectable (15-18kg) hapuku. They took home one each and left them still on the chew.
Tackle Tester’s last trip was 10 days ago when we towed the boat to Marsden Cove, where we had the option of heading out wide into a 1.5 metre NE swell or fishing in the harbour. Opting to head out deeper, we turned to starboard when we got to Bream Head and saw what the conditions were like. We found some fish in 35 metres a couple of nautical miles east of Five Mile Reef in the remnants of sporadic workups, doing one long drift through the area rather than chasing the flighty gannet action that was there one minute and gone the next.
It was a good call. We put some nice fish to 67cm in the bin, with micro-jigs doing the job over sliders and soft-baits. There were a couple of rat kingfish in the mix, along with a JD or two.
I have been fishing one Catch micro-jig for some time now. It has probably caught a ‘ton’ – 100 plus fish – over the summer and has lost almost all its colour and the assist hook has been replaced several times, but it just keeps on doing the business. It is fished on a particularly fast-tipped Shimano Engetsu jig rod and often left in the rod holder, leaving the rise and fall of the boat to work the lure – deadly!
Regular Bream Bay angler Shannon Neho has been enjoying good results fishing in a little closer to the coast off Langs Beach all the way up to Uretiti. He comments that recently he had been heading deeper but was driving away from the fish in the shallower water. Shannon has been doing some product development around Catch lures and says to keep an eye out for some new and upgraded lures from the NZ-based tackle company.
Backing up this ‘fish your feet first’ mentality is another report from now-local Ben Francis – and I saw the bin as proof – who had a great session with his dad drifting both lures and baits in 18-20m off the Waipu rivermouth last weekend, landing some great snapper and plenty of them.
If you can’t get out wide, there have been some good reports coming from Whangarei Harbour. Pete McGregor, an NZ Fishing News contributor who lives right on the waterfront at One Tree Point, has been flying his drone from the foot of his section with good results using pilchards for bait. He has also been dropping his line out with a kayak, and that has been providing plenty of fresh fillets for the table – no monsters but nice fish to the 42cm mark.
Across the harbour in the vicinity of Parau Bay, there have been reports of good catches in six metres of water. Keep an eye out for the terns and the kahawai working up the anchovy schools.
I haven’t been there so far this year, but looking at the forecast for the next week or so, you may well find me in that vicinity this coming long weekend! Last year the Moodring 2.5cm and Bleeding Banana grub tail soft-baits on quarter-ounce jigheads were our go-to colours. The secret is to have a jighead that will get you quickly down through the kahawai zone to the snapper below, but light enough not to drag on the bottom amongst all the red weed that can make lure fishing so frustrating.
The bottom is rarely over 8-9m deep here and we have hooked snapper right on the surface among the kahawai, so expect to get nailed on the drop.
While you are in the relative safety of the harbour, with the winds and rain forecast for the next week or so, still take care out there. Wind against tide in the main channels can make for lumpy conditions!
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