Inner Hauraki Gulf Fishing Report - 22/03/24

Thoughtful tactics required for better fish

Over the course of each year the fishing varies, and now changes are afoot with the colder weather.

In the last two weeks I have only managed to get out into the Gulf four times with moderate success – the fish movements and feeding habits are not what I would expect as a lot of you are also finding. Around 80 percent of the snapper I have caught were in the 28-34 cm range, and all the bigger fish I kept were around 36-42 cm and caught on fresh bait.

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Overall, there is a truckload of small snapper around in fat, healthy condition but I am surprised and concerned about the lack of decent pannie fish. What has been consistent each trip is the snapper have been going on the bite on either the last or first hour of the change of tide.

Out on the worm beds, it's much the same as it has been for the last month, with few small work-ups and a reasonable number of snapper spread out grazing. The best result is at anchor with a good berley trail, catch fresh bait (used as whole butterflied, half cut, or strip baits), and set them out well from the boat down the berley trail. With most of the decent snapper I have caught like this, I have just let them pick away at the bait letting out a bit of line and striking only when the line comes up firm on the rod tip.

Administration Bay and the Rakino Channel have big schools of anchovies that are getting monstered by kahawai – surprisingly they are mainly small bait size models and there are very few decent ones to put in the smoker. Again, different from years past I have not seen a single kingfish that would normally be harassing these kahawai.

Most of the snapper out on the sand are also small but I did nail some reasonable fish on the small bits of low foul (Area 3; Spot 17 from my Hauraki Gulf Fishing Hotspots book).

Going into Gardner Gap there has been reasonable sign showing on the edge of the drop off in 8-12m (Area 3; Spots 12 and 13).

A simple change can often make a huge difference. Recently have dropped down on line weight to 6kg on my strayline combo which gives me the advantage of being able to cast further, notice line movement more easily, and it also has less drag in the water when a fish picks up the bait.

Just for the sake of my fellow man (and because I was burning someone else’s diesel) I had a good look around Rakino and close in on the western side of Motutapu – again not the volume or size of fish I would expect to see at this time of the year. Everyone I have spoken to over the last few weeks has found it hard fishing and the best results are coming from those who are fishing fresh bait on the sand in very shallow water so it looks like we are in for an interesting winter.

Catching up with some mates that have been fishing on the northern side of Waiheke and down around the bottom end have been finding it the same with only a few spots that have produced decent catches.

With Easter coming up I will be dragging the bait net and stocking up on solid baits such as sprats, jack macs, and piper. When the fishing is hard, the fresh bait should deliver – you just have to chill out and let them hook themselves.

My picks for the Easter break (given the right conditions which are all explained in my Hauraki Gulf Fishing Hotspots book) are:

Area 1 spots 8, 10 and 19 (Bean Rock - west Bastion Reef; Rangitoto, west side; North Head, Rangitoto lighthouse)

Area 2 spots 7, 12 and 20 (Browns Island west; Motuihe; southern Rangitoto)

Area 3 spots 12, 13 and 17 (western Motutapu)

Area 4 spots 3, 11 and 13 (Billy Goat Point - Otahuhu Point)

Area 5 spots 5, 9 and 10 (Maria Island - David Rocks; David Rocks)

Area 6 spots 12, 17 and 19 (Hooks Bay; Thumb Point - Owhiti Bay; Te Whau Point)

Area 7 spots 20 and 24 (Pakatoa Island - Rotoroa Island; Ponui Island)

- 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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