Spring time is the best time to drop a line off the west coast, snapper are big and ravenous but the weather can be cruel so take every opportunity you can. What you must not take are risks.
We spent the last weekend of October fishing at the 60m mark, slightly sou' west of the Manukau Harbour entrance. While there was a bit of wind-chop, the bar was flat. No problem at all. That didn't stop three in a tinny from rolling their boat on the Waikato River bar. Not all the crew had lifejackets and they didn't log their crossing with Coastguard. A recreational fishing boat chanced upon them after they had spent two hours in the water, with at least one of them injured. If you operate like that then go fish somewhere else, the west coast needs to be treated with respect.
So how did we go out there? Pretty well thanks! You can fish anywhere and catch stuff. If you want sharks and gurnard with a fair few pannie snapper in the mix, then fish close. Be prepared to lose a bit of gear because what the sharks don't take the coutta will!
You could try the 30 to 40m mark and catch a few pannie snapper, sharks and coutta too. Sound familiar? Then go deep! Head to at least 55m and drop a line. The fish may take a while to find your bait but after 20 minutes or thereabouts you will be in amongst it. There will be fewer bitey things, fewer kahawai and some of the best snapper you could hope to catch. Use whatever bait you wish but most favour mullet. Kahawai is our choice along with squid and Jack mackerel. Personally I prefer jigs and on 10lb braid a 60g jig is all you need. I like the Catch Squidwings and Boss range or Jitterbug inchukus in candy apple. You will catch plenty of fish and have a heap more fun. Our biggest fish was 17.5lb and we caught a 2kg plus fish pretty much every drop. There were a smattering of smaller fish in that lot but it was pretty epic!
The harbour has loads of trevally, a few gurnard and a billion little snapper. There are bigger snapper too but you need to fish smart to get them. My advice is to strayline the shallows on an incoming tide in the evening. If you catch a jack mackerel, nose-hook it, put it down on the bottom and hope for a kingfish because they are around. Scallops are in perfect condition but you will have to do your own research I'm afraid – we all have our secrets!
Take care, Smudge