Inner Hauraki Gulf Fishing Report - 2/11/23

Milky Snapper Flesh Just Social Media Hype?

With the inner gulf being out as far as fishing goes due to weather and sewage issues I have only managed to fish out in Omaha Bay for the last two weeks.

Firstly there is a lot of talk about the ‘milky flesh’ of some of the snapper being caught in the last six months or so. My personal take on it is that this is nothing new as over my fishing lifetime of damn near 60 years I have seen it before. I probably get out more than most and can tell you that on average just one fish in a hundred may be affected whereas years ago I would have only seen maybe one or two fish a year affected.

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If it was due to starvation wouldn’t you think that all fish would show some signs of starvation, yet all the snapper including the odd milky ones are outwardly in good condition?

My take on it is that if you go to a function with a hundred people attending there will always be a couple of people with flu or some ailment, but nowadays with social media every man and his dog are making a huge issue over something about which little is factually known.

Pollution is the enemy in my opinion. Over the last six years there has been a massive increase in infill housing with the grass gone, replaced by roofing iron and concrete. The runoff of rainwater is now fast-tracking vast amounts of silt, garden sprays, detergents and the like, not to mention a hell of a lot of tyre rubber, into the estuaries and harbours around the coast then out to sea. Naturally, the odd fish will pick up and eat something that doesn’t agree which in time will affect their body mass but doesn’t kill them. The question is, do they recover? As time goes by with the increase in population more cars and people using garden sprays, fertilisers and chemicals, they will all in time make their way to the lowest point which is sea level. This will only increase the number of fish affected in the future.

As fishing in the inner harbour is out, I thought it was only right and proper that I would spend a few days fishing out of Omaha to gather intel for the benefit of my fellow man.

The first trip was not pretty, a large northerly ground swell and a strong southerly wind putting a?nasty slop on top, spinning the boat around making it hard to stay in touch with the bait. In conditions like targeting snapper on a flat sandy bottom, it is best to fire out huge baits of kahawai or jack macs at different angle and distances from the boat to avoid tangles. As snapper are just grazing, they tend to chew down on the big bait and then move off with the remnants in their mouths so they pretty much hook themselves. It’s not often that you have trouble catching big pannies to eat but most snapper I caught that day would have been between 45-55 cm, and I released a couple of big old girls in the 20-25 pound range.

The individual snapper showing on the Furuno sounder against a ‘bait fish’ backdrop.

Second trip out the swell had dropped a bit but still had a nasty chop on top from the south, with an outgoing tide the boat lay best with the wind and tide in 20 metres slightly to the south of Ti Point. Again, big solid baits were the answer but interestingly out in deeper water, the snapper on average were smaller, I got a few decent 45cm fish but most were in the 35-42cm range. The key is big solid baits and letting the fish chew down before striking as most other boats I spoke with had struggled to a few fish.

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The weather for this weekend is looking good at this stage and I will be out of the inner Gulf due to the sewage issue looking for cleaner water either north of Tiri on the sand or targeting the Noises/Ahaahas.

My tips for the weekend from my Hauraki Gulf Hotspots book: 

Area 5: Spots 1 (D’Urville Rocks), 14 (Motuhoropapa Island), or 9 (David Rocks) 

Area 6: Spots 2 (Te Miro Bay), 16 (Thumb Point), or 12 (Hooks Bay) 

Area?7: Spots 21 (Shag Rock), 22 (Pakatoa Island), or 23 (Shag Rock) 

The snapper are in prime condition (not starving) and ready to spawn in the next few weeks so remember team take what you need for a feed and let the rest breed, and stay safe. 

Tight lines.

Bruce Duncan 

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.


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