Deep red sunsets on crisp clear evenings with thousands of petrels hurrying along the sea surface, shambolic clambering for the tiny baitfish flashing just below, some bays have been absolutely alive with sea life on twilight. Inner areas have been amazingly calm and ideal for an early morning or evening fish (despite high winds out in the gulf), a bit of a scout about for any surface action should lead to some action below, no matter what size water craft you have access to. Some days you could nearly walk on the bird life looking for their fair share of tiny baitfish that the swarming kahawai are rounding up. Other sundown’s are picture perfect calm and still, void of all life it seems. Until a small family of big bottle nose dolphins appear right in the shallow shoreline for an evening’s foray, the local dogs and their attending humans stop in wonder. A treat for the after work wind down – the dolphins blistering pace hounding baitfish, the loud gasping and puffing getting their breath back while scraping bellies on the sand, then the slow cruise along to the next bay. Western Rakino, Shakespeare Bay Whangaparaoa, Campbells Bay and many more have all been spectacles just this week. So yes there are fish in most depths (although the middle ground has been a bit quiet a lot of the time), with fish of various species. It’s a time to change to the winter tactical approach to coming home with the goods. More on this approach over the next few weeks.
There’re a lot of ways to plan a day of fishing depending on your preferred species and style of catching fish, from SSTs and chlorophyll densities, to the moon phase or perhaps noting how many (
sick days) health days you have available that can occur on a windless day, whatever methods you use make sure your leaders are as light as you can and your hooks are sharp. A typically tentative winter type bite from a nice 10-15lb snapper, that gnarly red can shake that tough head of theirs and spit that hook before you can react at all sometimes. Sharpen your hooks well, or head out with new hooks poised so the big one (or the medium sized one) doesn’t get away.
Out wider the opportunity for big winter snapper and the green machine of a big kingfish continues to lure. The gannet nests at Great Barrier are being vacated with all and sundry out scouting about, so some good workups are happening, but they can be near or far, a gannet flies far and fast almost effortlessly. The birds prefer to stay close to home and burn less gas themselves looking for fish, somewhat like us, but the free winter buffet may only be a 30miles along a compass line, a mere beat of a few 2m wingspans away. Workup hunting, when the wind allows at this time of year can be exhilarating and adrenaline filled when the heavens open and the gannets rain down on the bait, the whole nine yards going on below. Or not.
If bluefin tuna are on your bucket list, best start ticking. Waihau Bay. While you’re there, there are STILL striped marlin being caught!
Winter fishin’ missions, get into it, life’s what you make it so time to capture another fishing sunset.