Okay, it’s official: I have now gone from grumpy to septic. Covid, terrible moon phases and strong bitterly cold winds have combined to make fishing very challenging.
This time of year can be very frustrating for a number of reasons. For some reason, when the wind is bitterly cold or has a certain chill factor, it really puts the fish off the bite. Unless the snapper are under a work up, they just sit and mouth baits with no aggression. Tiny taps on the line are not always small fish but we are all finding it hard to get a solid hook up. Our first, second and third baits get nailed, then nothing, zip, zilch, nada. We shift to a new spot and the same thing happens. This has happened to me and a lot of others regularly over the last few weeks.
Just this last weekend, I had mates who fished far and wide from the work ups in 30 metres through to close in on Little Barrier, and even up in the shallows they all found the same tentative bite. Just a few small bites and a couple of fish hooked, then the action went dead. One boat caught a few decent fish but again, it was dead all day then all the fish were caught literally within a few minutes of each other. Maybe the fish are wearing Covid masks.
Normally, I suggest that when it’s tough going you should set a game plan and stick to the one spot and fish it over the whole run of the tide, but this is the one time of the year I move about and hunt for fish. One thing you can do that will help is to have the berley bomb partly defrosted so the moment it’s set, it sends out a solid trail. As soon as the motor’s turned off, I toss a couple of handfuls of chopped up ground bait as far and wide away from the boat as I can. The key is to get the fish to become aggressive and compete for your bait. Just a bit of a scent and a few tasty nibbles help to bring the fish towards the boat. With the fish being so picky and light on the bite, you have to be totally in touch with the bait to get a solid hook up – but the wind swinging the boat all over the place doesn’t help. Once the anchor sets solid, shorten up on your anchor to take some movement out but this does put you at risk of dragging. Take a transit mark (a fixed point) on the shore, be it a rock or a tree, so if it moves you know you are dragging.
This weekend is not looking flash by the shape of the isobar map and the moon phase but if conditions allow, I will be heading out to target the northern side of Rangitoto and Motutapu as there are a number of spots close together in the area I can target which offer a bit of shelter from the wind.