Looking back to my last report, not a lot has changed. There is a truckload of wind and rain, but to cap it off and make it a bit more challenging, there is a bad moon phase.
Looking back some forty-odd years ago, we had similar conditions, and this is when I learnt to read an isobar map, looking at tides and wind direction to see if/when there would be a change.
It’s when the wind is going round to another quarter on the change of tide that you often get a wee window of calm, particularly if the change is in the early morning.
Leaving the ramp at 6:00 am on the last of the tide, I get to fish over the slack water for about an hour before the wind kicks in. This means I can’t go far as this old body can’t take the beating when bashing into a head sea anymore.
With snapper in spawn mode, they are being fussy as to what they eat and are very light on the bite so, over the slack water, fishing without any weight is way more productive. Many people don’t realise that even in 20 metres, an unweighted bait will sink to the bottom with just the weight of the hook. These unweighted baits sinking slowly to the bottom have very little resistance when picked up by a fish, so they are more likely to eat it without getting spooked.
Ground bait is the key, more so than berley, as tiny scraps of ground bait get the snapper more competitive and biting aggressively. This is critical as you know that by the weather forecast, you may only get one to two hours fishing before you have to bail.
With the boat getting blown around, it is hard to really focus on what’s happening to your bait, but the game changer is using fresh jack macs or a strip bait of mullet or kahawai. Obviously, they stay on the hook longer, but the way fish are feeding, they will often suck down a scrappy bit of skin.
On average, I would have to say that snapper fishing is on the improve, and so is the number of trevally being caught. There is nothing like trevally sashimi followed by a few snapper fillets for dinner. While I mainly target snapper, trevally has largely been an untargeted bycatch (much to the disappointment of my wife, who loves sashimi trevally). What has proven very successful is putting a very small, pink metal jig on the softbait rod, dropping it to within a metre of the bottom, and just leaving it in the rod holder for the wave action to dance it around.
In the few breaks in the weather, a mate who has been soft-baiting has had some reasonable catches 1-2 miles due east of Tiri, as well as on the explosives dump just to the north of the Noises. Looking for shelter, although the wind will still blow the boat around a bit, are Spots 12 and 13 in Area 3.
One go-to spot that has yet to fail me is in Area 7 Spot 6, but you can only fish it on the outgoing tide. It is generally good for a feed of pannies but make sure to have a popper on standby as many a fat kingfish lurk around the reef structure, often following the snapper right up to the side of the boat.
Getting out of the wind on the Rangitoto side of the channel, try in close on Spots 11 and 15. But again, due to the boat spinning around at anchor, a stronger bait, such as jack macs etc., will out-fish pilchards or skipjack (bonito).
Catching fresh bait on a ledger rig is easy enough but use a really heavy sinker when the boat is moving around on the anchor as it is then kept close to the boat, reducing the chance to tangle other lines.
Remember to give the Coastguard a call and do a trip report. If in doubt, don’t go out – it can’t blow forever, can it?