Us Aucklander’s are locked down again, so let’s take a positive out of the negative.
Now challenged with fishing from the shore, it really brings you back to basics and you will be surprised at what you can learn. We now have no option but to get back to basics and remember the old saying: “fish your feet first”.
Take a walk at low tide ankle-deep along any beach and you will often see small shallow round depressions surrounded by broken shell in the sand; they are the signs that either snapper or stingrays have been feeding on worms, crabs and shellfish. Take a look at the shape of the beach for other fishy signs, such as where there may be a bit of current or it may drop off into deeper water. Mix up sand with bread to form a makeshift bait (the sand helps it to sink before the seagulls can get to it), then toss it out as far as you can and give it a bit of time. Soon you will see some slight disturbances on the surface, which indicate bait. I have always found fresh, local bait to be best when fishing from the shore as it stays on the hook. More often than not, small fish will start ripping at it and it is the noise and commotion of the smaller fish feeding that attracts the attention of bigger fish in the area.
The best time to fish the beach is on a rising tide, ideally with the top of the tide coinciding with dusk but take any opportunity to cast a bait as I have caught many good size snapper on a bright sunny day in less than a metre of water.
You don’t need fancy surfcasting rods and reels. I just use a simple seven-foot stray line rod but find you can cast a bait further out with four or six kg mono. At times, due to wind or current, you may need a small ¼ oz sinker but if you can fish without a sinker, do it. You’ll get a far greater hook up rate because fish can take the bait without being spooked. Rather than putting the rod in a beach spike, I prefer to hold it with the rod tip pointing to the line in the water. With little or no weight, this allows you to see and feel for any line movement. Try casting a pattern of baits at different distances and angles off the beach rather than just at the same spot.
I always chop up a few handfuls of ground bait, mix it with bread and periodically toss it out as far I can. This sounds dumb in just a metre of water but baitfish feed on it, and I have had kingfish swim past my feet chasing them.
The places I caught a number of good snapper during the last lockdown were along the Tamaki River and the eastern end of St Heliers beach. Others caught snapper off the Tamaki Yacht Club and along the road from the Yacht Club, as well as at Orakei Wharf.
Fact is, if you don’t try, you will never know and it beats the hell out of being house-bound. Believe me, you get a hell of a buzz catching fish in shallow water on your doorstep.