Some have been finding snapper fishing off the coast pretty tough while others are reporting great catches. I guess it's all a matter of being in the right place at the right time.
Depths around 50 to 60m seem to be the most consistent for snapper, however off Port Waikato, the fish are more prolific and are in nice and close. There is plenty of kahawai and gurnard around, especially in the shallower water.
The real action out west, however, is coming from the gamefish. There have been many reports of packs of marlin smashing up bait schools on the surface with a lot of anglers reporting multiple hookups. While 80m to 115m seems to be holding the most fish, there have been marlin sighted and caught in as close as 40 metres. Often the fish are actively feeding but won't readily take lures – the crews who go prepared with live baits often have the advantage in this situation.
I'm often asked where the marlin are being caught with most wanting to know if the fish are north or south of the bar. The tales I am hearing don't really point to a pattern, one day they are north, the next they may be south, or they may be anywhere in between! I know that's not much help, but that's how it is. I'm no game fishing expert but most fishermen coming in to weigh a fish are usually happy to share some intel, and that's how I get my marlin reports. Of course, I can't give away their secrets, but general information is always welcome.
Skipjack and albacore tuna are around too, as well as a few mahimahi. Most of these spectacular looking fish have been small, but they don't seem to mind taking marlin lures.
Harbour fishing has been going well, although it hasn't been an exceptional year so far. Typically from February through to May is the best time for snapper fishing in the harbour with the autumn and early winter providing the bigger snapper. I know of snapper up to 8lb so far, which is not too shabby at all. Kingfish are plentiful, and you will catch more of them if you actively fish for them rather than taking the approach of hoping to catch on with your snapper techniques. Live baits, jigs and topwater lures are all working well.
There is only one certainty with fishing though, and that is that you won't catch a thing unless you are out there doing it. Most successful anglers spend a lot of time on the water, and that's how they hone their craft. It's important to remember too that there are very few people who really do catch loads of fish each time they go out. We all have days when we struggle, and those are the days that teach us the most.
Take care, Smudge.