October and November can often be the most frustrating and difficult months to catch snapper for a number of reasons.
Snapper are just now starting to school up as their roe enlarges. At present the schools are fairly small but will increase in size as the water warms. The schools prior to spawning are dominated by either males or females in preparation to doing their wild thing. When the fish are full of ‘baby batter’, their activity and bite can be unpredictable.
Adding to this, the moon phase and current strength has a greater impact than normal. It is little wonder people have struggled this last week due to the small tides and crappy moon phase.
Targeting the 30-metre mark to the north of the Noises where just two days prior my mate had loaded up on schooling snapper, I found the fish were well spread out, mainly where the contour lines define a depth change. Small, lightly weighted baits allowed to slowly sink to the bottom well out from the boat, produced a number of small 32-35 cm fish and just one around 45 cm. Coming back in close to Administration Bay [Area 3 Spot 17] plenty of small fish were showing around the 32-35cm size and very light on the bite, even at the peak of the tide run.
On Sunday I ventured out on a boat that had a gazillion dollars of high-tech electronics and much to the disgust of the skipper who wanted to go way out wide, I gave him the run down to why it would be an exercise of frustration and waste of fuel.
Always remember that “habitat is where it’s at.” If the snapper are spread out and fussy as to what they are feeding on, head for a spot that has rock, kelp, snails, limpets and the likes as there will always be a few that will snack on a bait at some point of the tide.
Area 1 Spot 7 with its vast area of reef and isolated rocks, fishes on the outgoing tide. Close by we could fish Spot 8 and run up a fuel bill of $20. Long story short, being a very small tide, we straylined back into the burley trail with floaters - no weight - as its very shallow. With snapper being so fussy, unweighted baits give little or no resistance but also allow you to see any change in line movement. We put the effort in and just before hometime, we picked up a couple of nice fish for dinner.
I find hard fishing challenging but very rewarding, even when the biggest fish only went 48 cm.
My phone ran hot that night with mates ringing to ask how I had got on as they had failed miserably. One who went wide to the top of the Coromandel then across to Kawau’s Flat Rock said he could have stayed at home ripping up ten dollar notes all day and would have been less grumpy.
Take it from me, when you look at the weather map, take a close look at the tide and when the bite time is for the next few months. Fishing locally will greatly help you build up a lot more knowledge than heading wide where it can be very hit and miss.