Hauraki Gulf Fishing Report - Bruce Duncan - 17/11/22

Hauraki Gulf – Capt. Swish

Yet again, it’s been a fortnight of windy, unpredictable conditions, and NIWA says this is what to expect over the coming summer – bugger.

It must be bloody frustrating for those who work all week only to have the weather turn to custard on the two days they get off. The great thing about the Auckland harbour and inner gulf is that, generally, you can find a spot to tuck in out of the wind for a sneaky wee fish.

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Playing it safe out on the water is critical. No fish is worth risking a life for, so never push the boundaries, “if in doubt, don’t go out”.

When you can safely get on the water, you tend to go to your usual spots. But to step outside your comfort zone and try different locations is how you build up a database of options. Much of my learning over the years resulted from only having small runabouts and being forced to fish areas I would not usually head for all over the inner gulf. I was constantly surprised at the amount of snapper on our doorstep, even on bright sunny days.

Fish your feet first – you don’t have to go far to catch decent Hauraki Gulf snapper now.

With the predominant wind coming from the southwest, all along the shore from Saint Heliers to the Marine Rescue Centre, it’s very fishable as you get a certain amount of shelter. The same applies from North Head right up the North Shore coast. Often you will only be in very shallow water but remember, just a few metres deep. The crabs and shellfish living in the sand and muddy bottom are the reason the fish are there.

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In these shallow waters, you must fish away from the boat by casting the baits well out astern with minimal weight so as not to spook the fish. When they pick up a bait, if they feel any real resistance, they tend to drop it. Always remember that the fish in shallow water are not in schools, just individuals grazing across the bottom, picking up and crushing crabs and shellfish.

With their natural food being small, you need much smaller baits to get a hookup. Seldom do the fish pick up your offering and take off. Mostly you find they will pick up a bait and chew on it, so with small baits, when you see and feel a fish strike as the hook is in their mouth. Using burley and chopped-up ground bait pays off as it is taken by the current and, in time, draws a lot of fish back towards the boat.
Spots that I have found very productive in both winter and summer over the years are: Area 1 - Spots 3, 4, 18, and19; and Area 2 - Spots 1,2,6 and 7.

Those who have managed to fish further out to the Noises/Ahaahas area [Area 5] report good catches at either dawn or dusk on Spots 14,6 and 11.

Fishing out of Omaha recently, the weather has forced early starts before the wind kicks in. Not far off the beach, the results have been phenomenal, often catching a limit of fish within an hour. From the ramp to the spot takes 12 minutes, and it is just a matter of small baits cast well away from the boat being allowed to sink to the bottom slowly.

With the snapper feeding on shellfish, I have found a huge increase in hookups by letting the fish take the bait and only striking when there is a direct pull from the fish to the rod tip. Cut a pilchard in half, rig the head, chop the tail section into four or five small pieces, and use them as ground bait.

Being small, the current will take them well away from the boat, and in time the snapper pick them up and swim towards the source, hence the reason to cast the bait well away from the boat. Using fresh bait such as jack mackerel, kahawai, and the like will hang on the hook longer, generating a harder bite. Often just a bit of scrappy bit of skin on the hook ends up catching the biggest fish of the day!

The real success of any trip is to get home safe and sound, having had a few laughs. Don’t risk going out on the water if you are in doubt.

Bruce Duncan (Capt. Swish)

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