Snapper City – it is just out there, not far away from the human city, and December means the aquatic metropolis is a much better place to be anytime this month.
The festive fervour has started for humans, with the ‘must be finished before Christmas’ catchphrase in full swing, particularly among the all-important tradies, and what with that awful windy November, most jobs shouldn’t be running too far behind schedule as a result of occasional (fishing) days offsite.
Similarly, the snapper annual life cycle is in full effect – aggressive feeding preceding the breeding slowdown around our official holidays. Between now and Christmas Eve is ideal for heading out and enjoying the local paradise before packing all and sundry and heading off to holiday destinations at various points of the compass, with new fishing grounds to explore!
Great news for kayakers and tiny tinnies as the mid-Hauraki gulf action has spread out, with good fishing all around and inshore hot spots bursting into life. The bottom end of Waiheke, Tamaki Strait, out from the northern North Shore bays (especially the last couple of evenings), and the gulf’s edges further north are all productive at the minute. Kayakers and some land-based anglers have been doing very well, both with numbers of fish and solid snapper sizes, when fishing in the lee of the land.
Soft-baiting and smaller jigs (micros) around the inner areas have worked well after the recent rain runoff clearing. Perhaps the orcas delighting us up and down the coastlines got the message and are into the same sort of hunting mode, in just waist-deep water. Stunning to watch. Of course, when the top predator is in town, fishing usually goes really, really quiet! Unsurprisingly. Best to kick back and enjoy the intensity of the experience, and once they’ve cleared the area – successful fishing gradually resumes.
Smaller soft-baits and micro jigs have been fishing well inshore following the recent rain run-off.
Further out into the greater gulf, it’s a wonderland of whales spouting off in 50m, dolphins perfecting their aerobatics, and birds of prey flying every which way – spoilt for choice of buffet some days. A bit like a healthy-looking tackle box, there are lots of good choices for you and, more importantly, the fish you’re targeting. While there are good times to be had out there, fish won’t feed all day, every day, so that menu approach is still key to ensuring you come home and don’t have to speed-dial a pizza delivery for dinner. Lots of skirt-laden lures or soft-baits when the going is relatively quiet, then pump up the volume with heavy metal and fewer, if any, tassles/skirts/flashers – if you intend to target the bigger snapper and less kahawai.
The new normal. Randomness, I call it. For instance, getting a small lure priority-couriered to Melbourne from Auckland took 10 days, while a standard courier from China – the size of several large tackle bags – here in five days. The previous way of thinking that you can buy what you want when you want it is no longer the norm. If there is a fishing item you have your eye on (whether for you or someone else) best get it while it is in stock. There is a lot of tackle that will (and is already) be bought soon, with no chance of new product arriving this year, perhaps for quite some time.
A slider, fished hard on the bottom, is a good technique when targeting gurnard.
Windy, changeable weather is still good for inshore fishing most days, and while there is no shortage of interesting things going on somewhere, there is Spot X to fish in sheltered, calm waters in relative safety. This first week of December is the lead-up to the full moon for the month, so while that may throw a curve ball or two for a few days, it should be plain sailing and good fishing, at least right up to present-opening time! Carpe diem, seize the day!