We’re already one month into spring and the unpredictability of the weather is about the only thing we can really rely on. The good days will get more frequent and then just as you think everything is settled, nature will remind us that we have to accept the good with the bad. There’s only one answer to that: go fishing whenever the opportunity arises.
Spring can provide some amazing fishing with fish become more active as the water starts to warm and the daylight hours increase. Snapper are moving into the harbour and the smaller ones can be so prolific they will drive gurnard out as they compete for food. Trevally will become a common catch for those who target them and whitebait making their way from the ocean into our freshwater rivers and streams will bring in huge numbers of kahawai. As the year progresses, kingfish will arrive but it’s probably still a bit too early for them to be around in numbers.
The South Channel and Papakura Channel may be worth a shot for snapper when conditions allow but I prefer to try my luck straylining in the shallows on the edges of the banks. I use small baits for trevally and gurnard and something like a fillet divided down the middle of a freshly caught kahawai for snapper. Use just enough weight to keep the bait on the bottom and rig it so the bait doesn’t spin in the current. You will be surprised how effective that can be and how light you can go in water that’s only 5m deep – loads of fun.
Scallops are plentiful and in reasonably good nick, please follow the rules and leave some for the rest of us. There have been some huge catches of whitebait in the river and I’m expecting to see some change of regulations introduced in the near future for both scallops and whitebait. Although I’m also pretty sure that won’t happen before the election.
Out in the deep water off the west coast, snapper are schooling up in huge numbers. I’d be looking at motoring straight out to 55 to 65m rather than hanging around in close. Some of the best snapper fishing I’ve ever experienced happens out there regularly at this time of the year. Big fish aren’t unusual and they are hungry. For a bit of fun try light gear and say 100g jigs but you may have to put that approach on hold if there are kahawai around as they can cause havoc with tangles. If sharks are a problem, just move. Don’t use berley out there at this time of the year, the snapper will find your baits and the nasties will hang around all day if you give them half a chance, as will the kahawai.
Most importantly though – remember that the weather is very changeable and don’t risk the west coast unless you’re sure of the conditions.