By all accounts and from what I am experiencing, the constant warm water temps we have had since early October have allowed the snapper to spawn a bit earlier out in the gulf.
Some snapper may not be in the best shape as they have just spawned, but others are already moving into shallower water and going on a feeding frenzy to rebuild their condition. This is very evident from the number of snapper being caught within eyesight of downtown Auckland.
There are a hell of a lot of snapper now moving down from north of Tiri onto the worm beds but be aware and check you are well clear of the cable zone as anchoring is banned, as well as all methods of fishing. To avoid catching those 25-35cm smaller snapper, use bigger 6-7 inch soft baits or catch fresh bait. All you need is a string of bait flies set at least a metre off the bottom (this minimises the chance of catching juvenile snapper) to catch bait. A jack mac butterflied or just cut into two baits will hang on the hook longer and catch the bigger fish. With all the baitfish out there, the kingfish and john dory are around as well feeding on them, so put out a livebait and cover your bases.
In the last two weeks, I have headed out and along the northern side of Rangitoto towards Billy Goat Point. Northeast from the lighthouse you will see the spoil ground marked. Between 10-13 metres, there have been a lot of smaller schools of snapper. On the eastern side of the reef running out from Gardner’s Gap in 17-19 metres, there are plenty of snapper holding. They are also out on the sand but we have had problems with hammerhead sharks – once you’ve been sharked, move out of the area.
Using big fresh baits early in the morning and at dusk has produced some very good snapper on the eastern side of Motutapu, but during the day there will not be a lot of sign. Out at the Noises, most spots are firing but you will find when the current slows down, the bite will too. Now is the time to anchor just off the rocks and strayline unweighted baits back towards the structure. You should also put out a livebait as there are some nice kingfish lurking around the rocks.
It all depends on the strength of the current when fishing the area from the hole to the north of Matiatia south to Park Point – more current means a stronger bite. As the current slackens off, Matarahui Bay (the first bay around from Park Point) has produced fish, and it’s a nice calm spot for a family fish.
Both the Rangitoto and the Motuihe channels are fishing okay, but if the America’s Cup boats are in the area, I am out of there as it is a bit scary when you have a Cup boat doing 40 knots plus whizzing all around you – there are plenty of fish to be caught well away from them. Snapper that are feeding in the channels will often move up into shallower water when the current drops off in the channels. Try moving into shallower water (6-10 metres), then berley up and strayline a lightly weighted bait well out behind the boat into the berley trail.