Hauraki Gulf – Ultimate Report
What a time to be fishing the gulf…
While jandal tan lines are already fading for many who have returned to work, the quality of fishing from inner to outer areas of the gulf only continues to improve.
Sitting right there on your doorstep of the inner harbour, the channels, bays, and the estuaries, is a bustling hive of activity reinvigorated by the return of our dear little friends - the anchovies.
It’s not uncommon in areas such as the Motuihe Channel right now to see the sounder packed from top to bottom of the water column with anchovies. Perfect!
The humble anchovy blissfully gorging themselves on plankton set off a wave of activity around them, opening a lot of options for fishing. A quality sounder will clearly show you what is happening beneath your feet, depicting the anchovy biomass, often flanked by either slimy mackerel and/or jack macks. Snapper on the bottom will venture up to pick off snacks, and we continue to see strong numbers of kingfish in close, including more and more mature greenbacks to accompany the rats that have been feeding hard for some time now.
Despite our own primary focus to catch mackerel for live baits before heading out wide, this really is a superb time to fish your doorstep. The days are long and balmy, so the door is open for some fantastic twilight sessions on the kayak, dinghy, or runabout if you can’t commit a full day.
All options are on the table in regards fishing methods, including a great opportunity to christen that topwater setup you got from Santa. Target your local reefs and channel markers at first light for the best chance of success.
Large dead baits are a safe bet but for the bait-free brigade, don’t be afraid to use those heavy 200gm lures you normally set aside for deep water slow pitch jigging, in this instance left to rumble along the seafloor as you drift to target the large snapper who are beavering away with their heads down in the mud. Soft-baits used in the same manner will also net solid returns. Again, for something a bit outside the ordinary, micro jigs such as the Ocean Angler ‘flea’ in anchovy colour scheme can produce exceptional results as you mimic the predator’s primary food source.
Armed with the confidence that picking up live baits in short order should be a formality, your options for the day ahead (targeting snapper, kingfish as well as the likes of John Dory) will be boosted considerably with a tank full of livies.
As is the case at this time of year, the kingfish action is hot with healthy numbers on the traditional outer reefs. This is the perfect time to test your gear or maybe put your mates onto their first kingfish?
When targeting kingfish please remember your etiquette out there and be alert to other vessels towing lures and livies or casting stick-baits into top water bust ups etc. Take your turn and everyone will be rewarded.
To increase your success rate with the kingfish, there is a lot to be said for fishing Monday to Friday with the greatly reduced traffic on the water.
As is the case inshore, the snapper are lighting up sounders all over the outer gulf. While large and concentrated work ups are less frequent at present, there are still plenty of birds and dolphins working together which always indicates a worthwhile place to stop and have a drift.
If birds aren’t in sight or the area is already loaded with other boats, seek out the patches of blue water among the green. There are a lot of pannies being caught but also some larger fish present, and all of them are feeding more aggressively in the cooler patches.
While we haven’t seen any skippies south of Little Barrier yet ourselves, we don’t expect it will be long. Who knows, maybe there will be more sightings and a hook up of the black marlin that teases us around this time each year 😊…
What we can say with full confidence is there is a lot of activity in the gulf at present and now is as good a time as any to set off on an adventure to enjoy it. Tight lines!
First impressions are important, and lasting. When NZ Fishing News’ Grant Dixon first stepped aboard the Kingfisher 510 Minicat, there were two words that sprung to... Read More >