Being old does have some advantages, in that you have a long history of fishing and weather conditions to draw on. Most people check a weather map to see what they are forecasting, and if its ugly they then roll over in bed. Being old, however, I see that in the isobar map there will be a small window of opportunity to get out for a few hours for a fishing fix.
The Autumn weather patterns this season so far appear very similar to what I have experienced in the past where you may only get two or three hours of fishing before it all turns to custard. Don't let that put you off though, as this is when you can learn a lot of skills and helps to build up some history to draw back on in later years. Such was the weather last weekend - very predictable rain and moderate to fresh winds from the northerly quarter and small tide.
Firstly, I don't care about getting wet as you only get wet once, but I do get grumpy when the boat lays sideways to the wind and I get dumped on and can't focus on the lines. With a small tide, the option is to target an area where the current will be fast moving or go real shallow and pull a few fish out of the kelp. Option A – head to Park Point Crusoe or Rakino channel or option B - the massive kelp bed on the western side of Browns Island.
As I headed out, I had a quick fish at a local 'never fail' spot which told me it was going to be hard fishing, by the way the fish were just mouthing baits. I needed to find the largest area of foul or target an area of strong current. Looking around the harbour at various blow boats, everyone's sails were at different angles. This told me that the wind was at a point of transition and the big dump of rain that was predicted was not that far away. To anchor the boat with the bow facing the wind and the tide running directly astern, meant that if the light rain we had turned to a downpour, most of it would go over the top of the fly bridge, leaving us semi dry in the cockpit.
The choice was made to target the Browns Island kelp beds. You need to be fairly careful as there are a number of lumps and bumps as you approach the shallower counter line. Often you will see good fish marks around these. Noting on my Furuno chart plotter sounder where these lumps were just slightly ahead of the point where the bottom sharply shelves up into the shallows, I then turn the boat into the tide going slightly ahead to anchor in about 3 ½ metres. Burly, ground bait and plenty of hooks are what is needed in this spot. The burly pot needs to be set no more than a metre below the boat, so that the current will take it well back across the acres of foul behind the boat. As the baits will only need to sink down a couple of metres, it is only at the peak of the tide that you will you need a small sinker.
Be prepared, however, to lose a heap of hooks in the rocks and kelp. Stray lining with simply a 7 or 8 0/0 hook tied directly to the main line is more effective than using a trace. There are plenty of good size snapper in the area, but I find that when I use a trace, it gets snagged damn near every time I put a big bait out - and boy do you lose enough hooks as it is in the foul! Right from the get go we had fish mouthing baits. A few big fellas tore off with the bait, to which all but one I managed to drop. As I expected - fishing was slow by my standards, yet I can't complain about eight nice fat Autumn snapper in the bin in two hours, before the sky turned black and the wind picked up - it was time to head back.
Over the autumn and winter months, look at the tides, as the strength of the current often dictates as to where you best target. Most important of all is to get out even if it is for only a few hours but remember to play it safe.