The next game fishing season is only 50 weeks away but why wait until then when it is well & truly underway right now? Yes, the sea surface water temperatures are up, they have been around the 21 degree mark for weeks and will continue to rise. Blue water should be finding its way closer and closer to shore as summer really starts to wind up. West coast marlin and albacore have been seen and caught in the same areas as last year, mostly between 80 to 130m. Although there have been reliable sightings of striped marlin in as close as 60m. I'm looking forward to my evenings being interrupted by hyped up fishermen wanting to weigh their first gamefish for the season. The majority of marlin will simply be released but weighing or releasing is a personal choice with most people electing to keep their first one.
Snapper fishing off the coast has changed, there's no real need to travel to 60m to get amongst them. You will still catch them there for sure but you may find plenty of blue and mako sharks lining up to make a quick meal of your hard earned snapper. Fish can be found at all depths but the trade off is they can be harder to find. Trevally have also been a welcome by catch for us but I'm expecting those fish numbers to diminish as they head into the river and harbour to spawn. Gurnard, kingfish and kahawai are also on offer out there. Any of the gannet or tern work ups you see out to around 40m would well be worthwhile dropping a kingfish jig down if there is sign showing on the fish finder.
The harbour will still frustrate many with hordes of small snapper, but find a way through them and there are some solid fish around. The best way to avoid them is to move but 8/0 circle hooks will keep the catch rate down to manageable numbers. There are two styles that work well. Big heavy gear in deep water and shallow water using a much lighter approach. NZ Fishing News writer Ben Francis has an excellent article in the January magazine for fishing deep water in the harbour. I prefer to use lighter gear these days and often use sinkers of an ounce or less when straylining and a little heavier when using dropper rigs. Many methods work, it's just a matter of what suits you.
There are a heap of kingfish in the harbour too and livebaits fished on the bottom work well, but those mechanically jigging the deeper water north of Puponga are getting great results.
Mullet are prolific in the harbour right now but as with all forms of fishing, make sure you understand the rules before you go out. Netting has quite specific rules and there are restrictions as to where you can use nets legally.
It's also a great time to target flounder. They can be easily speared at night on an incoming tide. You will need low wind conditions though as the water will be too murky to see them otherwise. That's all for now. Smudge