Just for something different than heading out to Great Barrier for Xmas, I spent time in the inner Hauraki Gulf doing a bit of research for the new book. Having spent a lifetime poking around every island, rock and remote bay, I still am blown away how good we have it in New Zealand.
The snapper have finished spawning earlier than in the last few years and in the past week or so a lot have found the fishing to be a bit on the hard side, both close in and even out in 25-35 metres. The reason being is that now the snapper have spawned they start to spread out and are less aggressive in the way they feed.
A hell of a lot of fish have moved right up past the harbour bridge and are grazing on the shellfish on the mud flats around Meola reef even up past Greenhithe.
For those that want to target snapper on a fly or every small soft-baits, now is the time to get out and do it. The best time to work the shallow flats is on a rising tide and ideally at the change of light.
More often than not the best bite will come just on or after dusk. When it is flat calm, have a close look at the current lines then anchor on the edge of it. You may be in just 1-2 meters but drop a burly bomb halfway to the bottom and keep pumping it to release its content. The more burley you put in, the further it will spread and travel and in doing so will draw the snapper into casting distance.
Close in most people are having to toss back seven out of every 10 fish as there are truck-loads of 25-27 cm snapper out there and like kids, they can't stop eating, and the problem is a lot of those throw backs will die.
If you are constantly hooking undersize fish, either move or use at least a 7 0/0 hook and big fresh baits.
The Rangitoto and Motuihe channels are a bit hit and miss during the day, but all that can change as the sun starts to drop at around 5.30ish. The change of angle and the reflection of light in the water fires up the fish and brings them into a more aggressive bite.
During the day there has been some good size snapper caught in the 30 metre 'hole' directly out from Wharf Bay at Motuihe and at the " rubble" which is where the bottom drops away to the east of Browns Island.
Probably the best fishing in the last couple of weeks has been on the northern side of Rakino in 20-25 meters and a mate of mine was bitching that the action was so fast and furious they had to leave the cold cans in the ice box until they had finished fishing.
With daylight saving couple with warm evening temperatures, it is the perfect time to get outside the box and try something new like shallow water fishing. I would bet my last bottle of rum that not more than 15 minutes from any boat ramp you will catch snapper. The neat thing with shallow water fishing is you need no trace and often just the weight of the bait will be enough to get it to the bottom. I get a real kick out of watching the line straighten out, then strike and have a hell of a scrap as the fish has nowhere to go but away from you.
Again a burley bomb just below or at a maximum halfway to the bottom will not only bring in the snapper but baitfish as well. With a bit of luck there will be a king fish lurking nearby.
Many a time I would take the small runabout down and launch it at St Heliers beach, putter out a few hundred meters anchor up with a box of KFC and a couple of cleansing cool drinks and be back on the trailer within three hours with a nice feed of snapper. I have even fished off the rock groin at the eastern end of the beach and cast out baits while people have swum past and caught fish.
As the old saying goes 'fish your feet first' and if it's a mid-week fishing fix you need, don't talk about it just get out and do it.