The Hauraki Gulf is going off at the moment with some insane winter fishing. The weather gods have been kind, and we have been having some fantastic sunny winters days with hardly any wind and flat seas. This means we can go really wide and find the areas holding better fish!
There have been huge pilchard, gannet and dolphin workups around the western side of Great Barrier Island for the last 2 months, and it just keeps on going. The huge masses of kingfish in this area are hard to get through some day when targeting the big snapper below. Yep, I know a good problem to have haha!
We are using bigger lures around 140-200gr to slow jig for snapper in these areas with great success. Yellow and orange seem to be the colours of choice but every day is different so make sure you try all the colours you have! Even if the gannets and dolphins are not working in this area just try big drifts between Lil barrier and Great barrier until you find them then retrace your track.
Out in the middle ground, four to five nautical miles north-east of gannet rock (located at the bottom of Waiheke), there are masses of anchovies being rounded up by dolphins and kahawai (but only the smaller birds are present and a few gannets here and there). This is an area to target good pan sized snapper around the 40-50cm range. I will usually stop to get a feed from here on the way out to Coromandel to wet the lines for the clients and take the pressure off! It is also a backup plan for the way home if the fish are not biting out wider. My worry is that I have seen a few commercial trawlers in this area and hope they do not wipe out this fishing bonanza that is so close to home!
Further out around the top of Coromandel there have been masses of anchovies, kahawai, dolphins and small birds as well, but the snapper are bigger. It has been an afternoon bite over here and sometimes you need to be patient and keep on fishing through the morning until it goes off (the sounder will show the fish, but they just aren't biting yet). One minute it is quiet and the next you look around, and it is going off!
When the action gets hot, I like to change my clients to a big bottom ship style of jig (120-200g). I find that this style will catch the bigger fish generally (not all the time but that is fishing).
We are also seeing the big trevally that frequent the top of Coromandel at this time of year. These beautiful fish are not only fantastic to eat but a great fight on the light snapper gear!
So I look forward to seeing you out there. Or come out with me and enjoy my playground and learn a few tricks I have gained over the years!
Nik Key is a tutor, guide, lure tester, author and charter skipper
Capt Nik (Snap) - 021 596 074 "Nothing ventured nothing gained."