Manukau/West Coast Fishing - December 3rd, 2021

Good and bad news water temp wise                                                               

It seems as though we’re in for another marine heatwave. That can be good for us, it could be bad for us.

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We are seeing some exceptionally high sea surface temps that’s for sure. We were reading well over 20?C last weekend which is high for springtime. We’ve had so many opportunities to cross the west coast bars over spring and now that summer is here the northerlies and easterlies look set to dominate our weather patterns in the short term at least.  A lot of people associate snapper spawning with the temperature they see on their fishfinders and I’ve heard it said many times that snapper spawn when the water hits 18 degrees. The folly in that is that the sea surface temp is much different than what it is down in the depths.

Anyway, the snapper we caught hadn’t yet spawned but the bites were very tentative and compared to most recent days the fishing was on the slower side of very good. Despite recent catches reported in shallower water we found the best depth for us on the day was at 60m. The snapper were smaller than they have been, but I have heard from people that have fished the same spots on consecutive days with bigger fish and better results on one of those days.

Was our experience just the natural highs and lows that is fishing, or a sign that the fish are slowing down ready to spawn? Who knows but I expect it was just one of those days. It is pretty good though when a slow day can still yield a limit catch of snapper to 3kg or a little more. With only one large tope, one fat kahawai and four gurnard as a by catch, it’s pretty clear to me we have a healthy snapper population out west.

The higher surface temps are likely to bring in a lot of ocean pelagics and it won’t be long now before I’m being called to weigh a marlin for someone keen enough to go out wide. Albacore won’t be far away and I’m hoping we’ll see a few more skipjack tuna this summer.

Meanwhile fishing in the harbour remains steady, snapper are there for those who are prepared to hunt them out as seen in the image with this report, supplied by regular harbour fisherman John Holden. Gurnard are surprisingly still in good condition and if you know where they are and how to  catch them, there are plenty of trevally in the harbour. Flounder should be plentiful and easy to find on the settled nights when there is little wind.

I wrote earlier that the higher sea surface temps can be a good and bad thing, well there’s nothing too bad about it initially but these trends can help other species to get established which can cause all sorts of problems. On a less serious note, I expect to see a rapid decline in the condition of scallops and gurnard as the shallow water starts to warm. Pic courtesy of John Holden.

Take care,

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