It is interesting how little things can affect the fishing such as wind direction and the air temperature, now combine that with a bad moon phase you then know the fishing is going to be tough.
It is seemingly logical that if you target a large reef mass, the greater the chance of more snapper lurking about. I was thinking the same, so anchored the boat off some reef structure, tossed out three baits, to cover my bases staggered at different angles and distances from the main structure. First bait hooked a small undersize snapper then nothing, not a sniff and that gets your gut feeling that this spot is not going to work so where to go from here.
In my book Hauraki Gulf Fishing Hot Spots, you will see a number of spots referred to as “a bank” – and you only go to the bank when you are desperate. I never target these spots more than one or two times a year as they do not hold a lot of fish, but you can always catch a few for a feed. On this occasion, my gut told me to have a look at one of these spots – this one, in particular, is a patch of low rock, about the size of an average kitchen. Running down over the top of the rock and then further down current of it there were maybe no more than six or seven fish showing.
With not much showing normally I would not have stopped, but the gut said: “give it a crack”. Long story short, my first bait was sent out to the edge of the rock, and by the time I had re-baited another rod, the first one was bloody near dragged over the side of the boat. In less than an hour, I had all the fish I need and left the “bank” knowing there was still a heap of fish there should I need to revisit it in the future.
Fortunately, all my ducks were in a row for my first guiding job. The weather and moon phase were right, but when we left the dock, we only had two hours left of the incoming tide – where to go?
My first shot was at Browns Island at Area 2, Spot 7. This is a spot where the wind direction and current need to hold the boat, so the stern is facing the large area of low foul. All went well until the wind kicked in from the south, and it was time to get out of there.
Moving across to Rangitoto, we headed to Area 2 Spot 4. The boat held ok, but now with very little current the only way to fish was with floaters – that is no sinker or trace, just a hook on the end of the line. Without a sinker, the bait slowly sinks to the bottom, and when a fish picks it up, there is very little resistance so they tend to mouth it and then take it down, getting the timing of the strike right can be challenging, but this way of fishing really helps to teach people how to hone their strike skills.
With a south-west wind and outgoing tide, I then moved out to Area 2, Spot 3 where the Furuno sounder was showing a few fish, with some bigger models in the 40-50 cm range. You need to anchor ahead of the fish so the baits, when cast astern, drop to the bottom at a 45º degree angle to the boat, this allows you to both see and feel when a fish picks up the bait, ensuring a more solid hook up when you strike. Within two hours of the outgoing tide, we had all the fish we needed and were heading back to town.
When you are faced with conditions that aren’t that flash, it is the perfect time to think outside the square and try new spots and different ways of fishing such as using no sinkers. Over time you will build up a lot of knowledge, and this is when your gut feeling of where to go kicks in. There is no better feeling than nailing a few nice fat winter fish when all your mates who went to their normal spots got skunked.
What the last few trips are telling me is that there are still good numbers of snapper luring about in the rocks and reefs and on the slack water they tend to move out onto the sand but due to the way they feed in the winter months you need berley to fire them up and smaller baits are more effective than large baits.
All the reports from various sources have said that the fishing down at the bottom end of Waiheke has been a bit slow, but the Noises and the area behind Motutapu and Rakino have been very productive – that’s where you will see me lurking about this weekend.