As you can see and feel, there is a change in the air. With the sun a bit lower and cooler temperatures creeping in, the snapper will move to their winter haunts.
For the next three to five weeks, the fishing should be awesome, with a lot bigger fish being caught. Typically the bigger snapper that have been feeding on the open flats are now starting to make their way out into deeper water, whereas a lot of the smaller fish will now start to move closer into the shore.
What tends to happen is the bigger snapper stay in deeper, faster moving water as they slowly head out into the gulf; areas in the Noises such as Zeno rock have produced fish up in the 5-7 kg mark.
If you’re targeting snapper, look in areas where the current is strong such as the channel between Otata Island and Takapu Rock. Often you’ll find more fish to be on the edge/bottom of the drop off on the Otata side of the channel and generally more on the outgoing tide. With the bottom clear of any rocks, jigs and soft baits work well. If you prefer to anchor, use fresh jack macs on a 1-3 meter trace.
To the south of Zeno Rock, note how the contour line has a small finger; it is on this corner that the current will be the strongest. I tend to idle into the current from around 20 meters up to the edge of the rise to find the fish.
There are now massive schools of anchovies in the Administration Bay area right along the shoreline towards Rangitoto lighthouse – if you’re trying to find them, just look for the birds. Ideally, if the wind is light, I drift fish using a strayline, as you cover more ground and tend to pick up larger fish than when anchored. The bottom along the outside of Rangitoto is littered with bits of low foul, but right up in the shallows of Administration Bay, the bottom is clean sand and snag-free, even if there are no birds in close go into 5-7 meters and drift fish on the sand. The key to straylining on the drift is to use very light sinkers and cast the bait as far away as possible. Once the bait hits the water, slowly let out line till it hits the bottom. Be prepared to let a meter of line out to allow the fish to take the bait, once a fish picks up the bait wait till the line goes straight and taught before you strike.
If you are short of time or don’t want to go far the Barges are still fishing well. Alternatively, one spot that is often overlooked is the northern end of Cheltenham Beach where there are a few small patches of foul, which often fishes exceptionally well on an outgoing tide, particularly on dusk.
All these spots and more (150 spots) are in the book Hauraki Gulf Fishing Hot Spots. Each spot has a screenshot of the bottom GPS coordinates photo of the area and full details of the wind tide and how and when to fish it.