In time, you will find that life goes round in circles.
When I first got married and was building a house, with no money, the boat got sold for a driveway. So I ended up with a 10-foot dinghy that had a two-horsepower outboard. Before dawn I would shoot out to the local rocks and reefs, catch a feed of snapper, and then head back to work on the house.
As life goes on, we get into bigger boats and go fishing further offshore, until age catches up, and we find the circle has closed, back to fishing as we started.
The point I am making is that nothing changes. Habitat is where it has always been. Despite fishing in 7-25 metre boats far and wide for years, where we started fishing, in close, the habitat and structure haven’t changed and the fish are still there.
With that in mind, along with the fuel and bait price increases, what was not long ago a $100 day out wide has turned into a $300 venture. Going wide is now a treat, but we can still get our fishing fix by trying something new.
With the cost of boating rising, what price do you put on a day out with friends and family? What I want to share is that it need not cost a heap, and I would bet my last bottle of rum that the rewards are greater than ever before.
In the days of my 10-foot dinghy, I made do with homemade burley, chopping up old bait scraps and fish frames, mixing it with stale bread, sand, and fish oil before freezing it in ice cream containers and old ice block trays. The sand helped make the ice cubes sink, so before I anchored, I went down current and tossed a few of these over every fifty metres or so until I dropped the anchor along with a homemade burley bomb.
This worked a treat, quickly bringing the bait fish back towards the boat and firing up the feeding senses of the local fish population. With frozen and fresh bait cast back into the burly trail, I can honestly say that I never came home without at least two or three snapper, not to mention a hell of a good feeling of achievement and satisfaction, as it had taken a bit of cunning and skill.
Nothing has changed today. Going back to old haunts and tricks, I still get the same buzz from nailing a good feed from spots I have driven past for the last 25 years.
What hasn’t changed is the effect of the colder water temperature and wind chill factor on how fish feed. Why the wind affects fish is still a mystery to me!
The best tip I can give you when conditions are like this, as they have been over the last two weeks, is to use minimal or no weight to get the bait to the bottom. Fishing in 18 meters on a sandy bottom with just small clumps of foul, my mate would not listen, insisting that he used ½ oz sinkers when I said my unweighted bait would easily sink to that depth when cast slightly up current and free spooled till near the bottom. With snapper slow and lethargic on taking a bait, no weight means you can detect more line movement by letting the fish take the bait and then straightening the line without them getting spooked, resulting in solid hook-ups. After I had seven snapper in the bin, he took his sinker off just as I pulled the anchor up, telling him seven fish for two families is all we need – he’s still dark at me!
All reports tell me that there are a few kahawai workups out on the worm beds but little snapper below them. Mates fishing out at the Noises and Ahaahas have found the snapper have moved mainly right in on the foul where it has taken longer than usual for the burley and ground bait to have an effect. As I have found closer in even out wide, baitfish have gone on holiday, and what few are around have been hard to catch.
Spot 18 in Area 5 off Rakino is one of my go-to spots when the fishing is slow, but like everywhere else, it has still been producing a few nice fish. Seldom do I see many boats fishing Spot 19, but when you set a game plan burley up and stick to it, these spots rarely fail in winter.
In Area 7, Spots 10 and 20 on the eastern side of Pakatoa and Rotoroa are my best winter spots to target. It is rough ground, so prepare to lose a bit of gear. Few boats bother to get in and strayline here, but these are perfect spots to try out that homemade burley combined with unweighted baits.