Bruce Duncan - Hauraki Gulf Fishing Report - 26/01/23

The only constant with snapper is change

Over the last fifty-odd years of fishing the Hauraki Gulf, no two years have been the same.

One year, snapper will come into the gulf to spawn first off more towards the Coromandel side, then the next year on the western side down past Kawau, Tiri and then onto the worm beds. Once spawned, they would run up the Rangitoto Channel into the upper harbour. Now, far more fish are coming up the Rakino Channel then right up into the shallower water towards the Tamaki Straits.

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Strong easterlies and heavy rain have played a part this year and as I said in my last report, I have some serious concerns about the state of the fishery.

After travelling from Auckland to Great Barrier, onto the Mokes and up to the Poor Knights before heading home via Kawau, not once did I see a decent workup, and there were bugger all marks showing on the bottom. Yet it appears that plenty of snapper have moved right into the shorelines and estuaries, often feeding in less than a metre of water.
The intel I get from mates – who are older, experienced fishermen and not Facebook warriors – is that while they have had success in the past on lures and soft-baits, they are changing to bait due to the lack of fish and action on lures.

All that aside, I can only repeat changes are afoot and we all need to be more aware and take care of the environment and the fish we catch. What is evident is that fishing in the Far North is better than normal, especially in some of the shallow waters of the estuaries.

From Omaha south to the worm beds the snapper are well spread out on the bottom, often showing up as just tiny blue dots on the finder. Anchoring with a berley bomb set two metres off the bottom allows the current to spread it far and wide; make sure to supplement this with a handful of groundbait every fifteen minutes or so.

Using a very lightly weighted stray line rig, toss the bait well astern of the boat, allowing it to sink to the bottom slowly. Over 80% of the fish I have been catching are on more solid baits such as kahawai, mullet or fresh sprats.

From Tiri south and to the east again, there are no big schools of fish but better numbers, with the best catches coming from those anchoring and bait fishing.

  • Area 1: Spots 9, 15 and 16 have all produced a few fish.
  • Area 2: Spots 3,13 and 14 are pretty consistent but it’s best to use solid baits.
  • Area 3: Spots 7, 14 and 18 will produce better-sized fish given the right conditions – it’s a bit early have a look at Spot 11 when heading out.
  • Area 4: Spots 4, 12 and 14 are fishing better at the change of light – both dawn and dusk.
  • Area 5: Spots 1, 4 and 18 are worth checking out – stop at Spot 4 first if heading to Spot 1. This small bit of foul at times holds good numbers of snapper and kingfish. At Spot 1, as you will see by the screenshot, the snapper and kingfish are mainly on the shallow foul to the south of the rock.
  • Area 6: Spots 23, 24 and 21 are best fished early or late in the day. At Spots 18, 2 and 20 use berley and groundbait to bring the fish on the bite.
  • Area 7: Spots 1, 24 and 16 are shallow water strayline spots where fresh bait and a bit of patience will pay dividends. Don’t be put off by small bites, it is just the way snapper feed on the sand.
Captain Swish
Bruce Duncan

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