Anchovy schools arrive early
Nothing is more guaranteed than change, and this old fella has seen a lot of changes over the last sixty years.
What is a bit weird this year is the very early arrival of schools of anchovies. Normally I would expect to see them in the inner gulf from January on but largish schools have turned up by Browns Island and on the northern side of Rangitoto. What is also missing from the equation is where are the schools of kahawai?
Overall, the fishing in the last couple of weeks has been pretty dam good but when you have small tides and a bad moon phase you need to be a little smarter than the average bear. A good example of this was at Awash Rock [Rakino Island] area 5 spot 18 where there is a gutter between Awash Rock and South Island that drop off to 15 meters on the chart, heaps of boats fishing on the western side with few fish showing on the sounder yet on the eastern side the bottom show a heap of fish from the gutter back on the flat sand. This spot is one of my “ never fail “ spots that will always produce a few fish yet at times you need to put the time into finding them, working out the current and wind direction.
It was just yesterday I was out fishing, finding little current and bugger-all baitfish as I covered a lot of ground out on the worm beds then up towards Motutapu. So, with very little sign headed for a small bit of structure at area 3 spot 13. With not a lot of fish showing on the structure itself, I slowly worked out and around the area as often you find on the slack water fish will move off out onto the surrounding sand.
As I waited for the tide to turn, I tried something new, floating down an unweighted Black Magic flasher rig rather than dropping it directly to the bottom which too often catches undersized snapper. A string of big hook baited flies proved irresistible to the trevally, which when ikied and put straight onto ice to chill, makes in my opinion some of the best sashimi around.
As the current picked up, so did the bites, not that you would call them that. The fish were merely mouthing and sucking on the bait. I dropped a number of good fish by not getting a solid hook up before I thought about why I was missing sinking the hook home. In around 17 meters of water, by the time the bait is on the bottom having been cast well astern of the boat into the burly trail, you have around 30 meters of line from the rod tip to the hook. With the snapper just mouthing a bait you, had to ensure all the slack was taken out before you struck them.
Given good weather this weekend I am more than likely to be heading out towards the Noises where you have a number of options open to you from soft baiting, chasing a kingfish or targeting snapper.
Very often at this time of the year you find there is a more aggressive bite happening at the change of light and this is very apparent on the outside of Waiheke. Friends living have been going out during the day with limited results yet now they are heading off the beach in their kayaks or sending out a drone after work at around 7.30 and have been catching all the fish they need in a space of an hour.
Again, remember the snapper are in spawning mode so release the big fish and just take what you need for a feed to give the rest a chance to breed.
- Bruce Duncan