Finally, the weather has been playing its part; the only issue I have is that it still looks like the fishing in the inner harbour could be a bit dodgy due to the sewage issue.
In the last two weeks, I have been lurking around the Gulf from as far afield as Omaha and Kawau to the Noises. This has given me a good overall idea of what’s going on. The snapper are into their spawning mode with a number of females – only kept as they were gut hooked – already having offloaded 90% of their roe. What is still very evident is they are still schooled up in groups of either males or females. Interestingly I am finding more males in shallow water (8-15 metres) than females but the few females amongst the boys are big old girls ranging from 18-23 pounds, all of which have been released.
Every year the snapper coming into the Gulf will take a different route for whatever reason. Normally at this time of the year, there should be a truckload of snapper to the south of Kawau towards Tiri, yet all we could find are patches of small mostly undersize fish.
On the other side of the Gulf, it’s a different story with way more snapper both in numbers and size. If you want to chase snapper with jigs and softbaits I would be targeting the area from Anchorite Rock to the south, again the workups may be small but there are way more decent size fish spread out on the bottom.
The good news is, there is always somewhere in the Hauraki Gulf regardless of the wind direction.
From Kawau to the Noises the workups are increasing in number but not lasting very long. Even the size of the kahawai is smaller than usual, with the snapper below being on average 25-34cm. To me, they are just not worth targeting with only one worth keeping out of fifteen to twenty fish caught and released.
One day last week the wind got up to around 20-25 knots and with an opposing tide kicked up a hell of a sloppy sea in the Rakino Channel – it was enough to roll the milk out of your coffee. Ducking into the shelter of Woody Bay the wind held the stern to the rocks where the current runs along the shoreline then out into the channel. Straylining with a bit of ground bait had snapper of all sizes coming out of the kelp and aggressively nailing the baits. The crew aboard had fun straylining unweighted baits back down the trail. I use a Penn Spinfisher rod and reel combo, spooled with 8kg mainline tied straight onto a 7/0 hook. This setup allows the bait to float down naturally, giving little resistance when the fish takes it, thus producing a higher hook-up rate than if you use trace.
Mates who fished the bottom end of Waiheke and out in the Firth last weekend all did well till the wind got ugly – they tried a few spots of mine close in and found plenty of pannie snapper.
Off Omaha my spot out from the surf club is still producing good numbers of snapper as is the spot off Ti Point in 20 metres. Spending time just cruising across the bay to the south in depths ranging from 16-24 metres, not a lot of fish were to be seen until you came onto a contour line. It's strange as the depth change is so gradual yet there has to be some tidal effect that brings the fish around the area.
Looking forward to this week, if it’s bottom bashing with ledger rigs, softbait and the likes, I would be heading in a line from Gannet Rock towards the top of the Coromandel or in Area 5 where it shows Spot 15 at the northwestern end of the Noises. Note on your chart or in the book how close the contour lines are that run to the south, get your drift right and you can cast and work the lures down the face of the drop-off as well as where the bottom flattens out.
My picks for the weekend are still out from the inner harbour but I would think the back of Rangitoto and Motutapu should be fine.
Area 3: Spots 6, 7 and 9 – northern Rangitoto
Area 4: Spots 13 - Billy Goat Point, 9 - Emu Point, and 6 – Otahuhu Point
Area 5: Spots 1 – D’Urville Rocks, 20 – Woody Island, and 11 – David Rocks
Area 6: Spots 2 – Church Bay, 15 – Ruruwhango Bay, and 12 – Hooks Bay
Area 7: Spots 16 – Pakatoa Island, 21 – Shag Rock, and 14 – Ponui Island
It pays to cover your bases if you are solely into lure fishing. No matter what the forecast is, so often the wind kicks in making for very sloppy conditions. The good news is there appears to be more snapper lurking in and around the foul than in previous years so take a bit of bait and you may be surprised at the number of fish you can catch.
Bruce’s Hauraki Gulf Fishing Hot Spots Guide has 150 proven spots including information on tides, weather, rigs and how to fish each spot. Get it here.