Take that! Right on time, Mother Nature let us know that winter is here, no ifs, buts or maybes. Sudden drops in temperature all around the country with squally conditions are making for somewhat limited fishing opportunities. However the silver lining is shining brightly – sudden drops in wind speed are coming, so you're best to get prepared now while it's stormy, then make the most of it.
Winter is prime time for intermittent but gloriously calm sunny days often with some extraordinarily big fish keen to feed, a cool, clear briskness to the morning air, filled with anticipation as the fishing unfolds. Perhaps a bit like us during the first few mornings of colder wakeups, many gannets flew only as far as necessary for a feed. The Firth has had some nice action recently with lots of kahawai and pannie snapper as well.
The water temperature is also receding, signalling the changing of the guard out there. Expect to have some really good fishing sessions over this next week. Mid-morning tidal changes, lots of current, a good moon, autumn to winter change – what's not to like about that forecast! After stormy weather, it may take a day of calm before the real deal of feeding comes back on, the water will be murky, but the fishing excitement should be building, the fish are ready and waiting. Casual drift fishing with quality lures will catch snapper relatively easily in 35m+. There are plenty of grazing snapper still around and further out there are some good schools of snapper with bigger models among them. Use your sounder and if you see any good midwater bait sign – stop drop and roll out a few of your favourite jigs/lures. Softbaits are almost like cheating in 40m. Use a kabura head to help get the lure down to the sea floor if needed, then just wind slowly up, no need for much more action than a gently swimming little morsel.
Don't forget the easy rule of 2 x water depth in metres = jig weight. So if you're fishing in 30m, try a 60gm jig to start, easy. Use skirted lures to start, and change to bigger un-skirted lures, slow pitch for instance, when you can – they are catching some very good fish, kingfish, snapper and trevally.
You'll probably need to go up from 20lb leader to 30 or 40lb when they are on the chew. The workup action should be rewarding, and the chase is on for the pot of gold, it could be near or far - have fun finding them!
Enjoy the calmer weather and those wonderful hook-ups!