With the stunning weather over the Easter break, every man and his dog got the chance to have a fishing fix. Heading away and being so calm, we got the chance to fish a few spots that are normally a bit sloppy for the girls. Starting off on the southern end of Rakino, drift fishing with soft baits proved to be more productive than bait fishing, but even that was a bit slow due to the moon phase.
D'Urville Rocks showed a lot of good fish marks on the north-western side with Furuno AccuFish showing some solid schools as the reef dropped off. Anchoring casting lightly weighted stray lines across the top of the reef saw a number of 2-3 kg snapper welcomed aboard and into the ice slurry. Several live baits got dealt to and the only successful hook up could not be stopped and took me to the cleaners big time! The bottom end of Waiheke, as a lot of people found, was not really firing in either the deep or shallow water. It is when conditions are like this I tend to target very shallow water to get some action.
The first spot I headed for is close in on the south eastern side of Pakatoa. With a northerly wind and an incoming tide, you can stray line back into a broken reef structure that has a few isolated rocks. Having borrowed a mates 43 foot launch, I was a bit reluctant to anchor it as close to the shore as I would in my own boat. A bit of burly and ground bait saw the snapper getting more aggressive and larger as the current set in. A big live bait was dispatched over the side but all that resulted in was a bloody big snapper taking it all apart from a tiny bit of the head where the hook had been set.
With an outgoing tide and the wind in from the south-west, The Frenchman's Cap is probably the most reliable spot that will produce snapper year round, regardless of how hot or cold the water or what the moon phase is. Usually if you zig-zag down and across the contour line from 7-13 metres heading to the north you will see a reasonable amount of sign and for the first time in my life the area was devoid of fish.
Again, when conditions are this hard, head very shallow where there is a current. If you take a line from the Frenchman's Cap to the southern end of Pakatoa, you will see a ridge of shallow water with a small rock structure roughly in the middle. Coming over the ridge heading north west - where the bottom drops off - there was good snapper sign showing on the drop off and back on the flat sand. The trick here is to anchor the boat so you can cast a lightly weighted stray line rig down the face and onto the flat sand. Our first bait got nailed by a 3 kg snapper before I could bait up the girls' line. On it went until I pulled the pin as we had caught enough fish for the day.
Heading back up the outside of Waiheke I had a good look around Gannet rock but it had very little snapper sign of any size and not a king fish to be seen. All the way up to Onetangi there were reasonable snapper signs, but they were not interested in bait - either real or plastic - so it was back in close to get a few fish to take home.
The shore line at the western end of Onetangi has a fairly foul bottom coming out from the shore and the option here is to anchor in around 12 metres and fish the rise, or anchor close in and cast un-weighted baits close into the rocks. In need of a couple more snapper and the john dory I had been promising the girls over the last few days, it was in close to cast back into the foul. Three nice snapper came relatively quickly, then just as I was clearing the gear, a nice john dory hooked up to finish the day off.
Speaking to a few people over the past couple of days, most said it was hard work to get a feed with a lot of small snapper being released. Those I spoke to that went shallow using bait and burly, managed to put a grin on their sunburned faces.