Lethargic snapper testing skill and patience
There I was thinking the end of the world was near as in the night sky there was a huge yellow thing for a couple of days!
Never have I or will I let a shitty moon phase stop me from going fishing; in fact, the harder it is the more you have to think outside the square and that’s the only way you build up a database of knowledge.
With a super blue moon, it was going to be the ultimate challenge. Right from the get-go when I headed out to sea, noting there was no bird life, I knew the fishing would be slow and frustrating.
No matter where I looked from out on the sand from 10-25 metres, or right in on the rocks, virtually no fish were showing on the sounder – where they go at times like this is beyond my pay scale.
With just the odd fish showing I made a call to anchor on the sand in 15 metres as there was a chance of picking up a few gurnard, casting out a couple of very lightly weighted small baits I also cast out a floater off to one side of the boat to allow it to sink and be taken across the current to cover more ground. For the first half hour, nothing. Not even a sniff or a touch on all three baits.
One thing I have found over the years is that even if they will not touch a bait, they will still pick up scraps. Chopping up pilchards into tiny pieces and then squeezing them into a ball enables you to toss them well away from the boat but up current so when they hit the water and sink they break apart to be taken in the current over a wide area.
Line weight can be a major factor when the fish are very slow and bait shy, going down to 4-6 kilo mono means less resistance when a fish picks up a bait and importantly it allows you to see and feel even the lightest of bites.
Within fifteen minutes I noticed very small movements in the lines, not strong enough to straighten the line but a sure sign of the bait being mouthed. Over the next half hour, more ground bait saw the lines being straightened enough to strike, resulting in a few small snapper and gurnard in the 35cm range.
Not being skunked and wanting to learn more,
I then moved into the shallows close to shore where there are isolated lumps of rock and kelp, again with virtually no fish showing where normally they would be. Stray lining along the edge of this coast always produces fish so if they were not where they should be I can only assume they were lurking right in around the kelp beds.
Fishing into rocks and kelp in less than three metres of water is a whole different ball game – it’s down to just one rod with no sinker and having to fully focus for any sign of line movement. Being so shallow, you can't just cast and leave the bait. You have to stay in touch and work the bait up out of the kelp and along the structure or you just get snagged.
For this style of fishing, I rig a whole pilchard but squeeze the tail end till it’s just mush so it releases more oil and scent. The trick of fishing like this is keeping the rod tip down close to the water where there is less windage and easier line movement, but the hard part is knowing when to strike.
Of the six or seven takes I had over the hour, I dropped three and landed three snapper all in the 34-38cm range.
Back at the ramp it was the same story with everyone I spoke to – no matter where they went there was no bird life, no workups, very few fish on the sounder, and slow fishing.
With the weather appearing to be on the improve it will be interesting to retrace the same ground soon to see if life is back to normal. My pick for the next couple of weeks (as by all reports fishing out wide is patchy and slow) is to set a game plan and target a single spot in areas of rock and kelp. Check out my Hauraki Hotspots book for my recommended spots for the next two weeks:
• Area 1, Spots 7, 8 and 11 (Bean Rock and western Rangitoto shallows)
• Area 2, Spots 2, 5 and 20 (East Bastion Reef and southern Rangitoto shallows)
• Area 3, Spots 8, 10 and 16 (northern Rangitoto shallows and Administration Bay)
• Area 4, Spots 12, 13 and 17 (eastern Motutapu shallows)
• Area 5, Spots 4, 16 and 20 (Ahaaha Rocks, Orarapa Island and Woody Island)
• Area 6, Spots 17, 20 and 24 (northern Waiheke shallows)
• Area 7, Spots 8, 11 and 21 (Ponui and Rotoroa shallows)