Less than two weeks before writing this report we fished off Port Waikato in 40m of water for a great bin of snapper up to 5kg and while most of them were around the 2kg mark, it was spectacular fishing. A few gurnard, a small but legal kingfish and plenty of kahawai help kept us busy but not a single shark came on board for the four of us and although a big barracouta turned up we had no gear loss all day. A nearby boat had similar success with only one shark in the mix. While the other three on our boat were all bait fishing I had a blast using inchiku jigs on light braid. That accounted for the kingfish and four of the gurnard as well as its share of solid snapper. While my mates gave me heaps for fishing with the silly string it wasn’t long before they all wanted to give it a go.
Last weekend was a different story off the Manukau bar for some friends, with sharks turning up in numbers to spoil the day. Snapper fishing was hard and snapper were scarce. The sharks were tope and as yet thankfully no spiny dogfish are showing up. Maybe it was a bad day or maybe the fishing is better down toward the river, which is my bet.
If you do decide to cross the river bar though, make sure you understand how it works. It’s totally different to the harbour bar and there is no room for error at all. There have been far more incidents on the river bar in the last two years for only a fraction of the boat traffic that the harbour crossing gets. While it may look harmless at times it is a very challenging bar to cross.
The harbour is still holding some good snapper and you will need to try the deeper water off the Papakura channel for the best success. Target the smaller tides if you can. Often you can fish the incoming for nothing and as soon as the tide changes so does the fishing. There is a lot of structure between the tripod of Big Bay and the No. 4 red marker a couple of kilometres further down toward the airport. Any of those areas can hold really good snapper.
Gurnard and trevally are showing up in good numbers and any of the channels are worth a try, particularly at the start of the incoming and beginning of the outgoing. Either fish the transition from where the channels start to rise or where the channels flatten out onto the shallow water banks. In that situation I would fish 5m or less.
We’ve been hunting gurnard recently in preparation for the CSFC Grunter Hunter competition on June 11 and we’ve had a mix of good and bad days, with even hard fishing turning up enough for a couple of meals of tasty treats. When it’s good it can just be too easy, with the fish in perfect condition.
Take care, Smudge