Trophy snapper great way to celebrate 70th!
It has been an interesting time out off the west coast over the last month. The big snapper schools have predictably started to disperse but the good news there is that snapper can be found in closer. Just don’t expect the action to be quite as fast and furious as it was before Christmas when Kath Arvidson caught her second 20 lb snapper from the west coast after waiting 40 years. What a way to celebrate her 70th birthday. Well done Kath! Fittingly, the fish was caught aboard the good ship Out West skippered by CSFC stalwart Shane Johnson.
Prior to Christmas the water temperature was up around 22 degrees and we were snapper fishing in blue water at 60m. That blue water is looking even fishier and the warm surface temperatures remain. That’s a great recipe for bringing on some serious game fishing and while things have been relatively quiet I’m sure it won’t be long before we start seeing some real action out there.
What has stood out for me is how different this season has started. Usually – well for the last few years at least - we see mostly small marlin caught out wide at this time of year. The first one I heard of was a striped marlin at 110m which weighed in at 138kg caught just before the new year. Since then I’ve heard of a blue marlin capture (which is a rare catch out there, but appear to be showing up more regularly in recent years), small southern bluefin tuna (wow), sunfish and a lonely striped marlin caught for our club by Jake Lamb and Chris Tait and released to swim away. Most boats have been seeing few tuna schools but that sure is an interesting array of fish.
I have to put my hand up and say I’ve found harbour fishing to be a little tricky. There are plenty of others who are sharing my pain but some anglers have been doing very well. Snapper up to 8lb but more typically 35cm fish have been easy pickings for some in 2-s5m depths on the channel edges. We picked up a 47cm gurnard that was in great condition which is unusual but certainly not unheard of for summertime. Trevally are popping up in numbers as are kingfish. Big kahawai have not been as plentiful as expected but if you want them, I’ve always found the Huia Banks area a productive place to find kahawai. Either drop anchor and bait fish with some surface burley or look for working terns and cast small jigs or softbaits to them using light gear it is so much fun.
Scallops are well out of condition now and while they are plentiful, my advice is to leave them until the new season opens later this year. Seven gill sharks are starting to disappear but some big bronze whalers are there for those who like to target sharks landbased.