Manukau/West Coast Fishing Report - 17/05/23

Good snapper in the harbour

I’ve been scraping the bottom of the fish bin looking for excuses for the lack of reports lately. Stuff like: ‘steering on the boat is bust’; ‘the weather has been rubbish’; ‘I’ve got covid’; and the good old classic ‘I have to wash my hair’. All those scenarios are true apart from the last one. 

What I do know is that the harbour has been fishing very well for snapper with fish up to 60cm and that is pretty flash by anyone’s standards. It’s also not unusual for this time of year and best of all, most people have tucked their boats up warm and dry for the impending winter, leaving more for the rest of us.  Don’t be one of those who put their boat away. Our best harbour fishing for snapper is traditionally from February until August. As the winter drags on it is true that the number of snapper diminishes but those that remain can be big fish. You will find them around deep foul, or possibly in shallow water near the harbour entrance. 

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The pics with this report are from the recent CSFC Family Day and it’s great to see kids catch fish like these – that’s why we run these competitions. Those kids will never forget their days fishing with Mum and Dad.

The fish I like to target for the next few months though are gurnard. They are starting to fill the harbour and are in pretty good nick. Many people struggle to catch gurnard, but I love targeting them and I don’t do too badly either. Myself and a keen group of harbour fishermen from Counties Sport Fishing Club get together every year to run a gurnard-only fishing competition known as The Franklin Hunting & Fishing Grunter Hunter. This year it is on June 11 and on June 3 we are in store at Franklin Hunting & Fishing to talk about gurnard fishing. We’re happy to chat about anything fishing, to be honest. 

I’m in contact with many harbour fishermen and it’s surprising how many are successful with snapper yet struggle with gurnard and vice versa but let’s face it: if we knew everything then fishing would lose its appeal.

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So, what else is happening in the harbour? Trevally and kahawai are around in big numbers but we’ll have to wait until the temperatures warm up before the kingfish will return. 

Over on the open coast, snapper can typically be found everywhere at this time of year, but the biggest problem is avoiding spiny dogfish, kahawai and barracouta. Fish shallow and you will get a good bycatch of gurnard and quite possibly some good snapper. Fish deeper and you will get good snapper if you can get past those ‘pesky’ fish. 

If you want to know more about The Grunter Hunter, go to  

All the rules are there and I’m happy to answer any questions you have, either on the forums or via email. There aren’t too many gurnard fishermen around using the name Smudge so a quick Google search will no doubt find me. I don’t mind people contacting me about fishing the Manukau Harbour.

Take care and enjoy safe boating over the cold months.  

Check out the Bite Times for your favourite fishing spot here.

Take care, Smudge


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