Ultimate Hauraki Gulf Fishing Report - July 28th, 2022

Let’s get the bad news out the way immediately. It’s winter, and the cold winds and heavy rain are in full gale-force swing. Frustrating when we know how good the fishing conditions are but, par for the course.

The good news? Well, it’s all good news between weather fronts when you can make it out on the water!

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Inner Gulf

Judging by the irregular patterns we’ve had over the past 12 months, we can all safely assume that ‘normal’ patterns can’t be relied upon. ‘Normally’ at this time of year, and with consistent water temperatures around the 15-degree C mark, we can expect to travel further for better fishing. What we are seeing right now – even with all the cold rainwater running into the shallows off the mainland and the islands – is a lot more quality snapper closer to shore. And just as well, with fuel prices as they are!

There are plenty of dolphin and gannet workups behind D’Urville Rock and between Rakino and Tiri. Yes, in July. We’ve even had dolphins working between Devonport and Bean Rock over the last month on multiple occasions, and while we haven’t checked, that is not to say there won’t be snapper underneath. The sweet spot seems to be that 30-40 metre depth range.

Finding the fish is one thing; catching them is another. We carry plenty of 180gm-240gm sliders and ‘Coin Drops’. These heavier lures always deliver, although if you don’t already have some, now is the time to invest in some lightweight lures. Within the Ocean Angler range that we use, ‘Weasels’ and ‘Fleas’ are proving deadly in depths up to around 40m.

Pushing further out into the Gulf as we do on our standard eight-hour offshore charters (thankfully not right up into the Craddock or Jellicoe Channels where we might otherwise expect to be at this time of year), we are again consistently finding workups with good snapper in the 50-70cm range. One hour on either side of the tide seems to be when the birds tend to feed the hardest. This timing isn’t lost on the many whales we’ve been encountering on our trips either – the sight of these gentle giants feasting on bait is something that never gets old and makes us excited about the upcoming spring season.

Speaking of bait, the traditional large schools of pilchards are well and truly doing their thing in Bream Bay, so there is a lot of action to be had up there now before the pilchards make their way down towards Auckland.

Outer Gulf

Oh yeah! There is a lot of excitement about the burgeoning southern bluefin tuna season currently in full swing further south, and rightfully so. It doesn’t mean, however, that departing from Auckland can’t provide some exciting and new experiences with deep drops on the days that sea conditions permit.

Departing Westhaven or Omaha on our long-range hāpuku charters have yielded great success this season, with these super tasty fish coming into reach as they prepare to spawn.

Deep drops on long drifts are exciting in so many ways, not least the variety of species you’ll encounter. We have had great success with our target species of hāpuku but are very conscious of limiting the number we take home. So, bycatch by way of large snapper, john dory, or reef fish such as grandaddy hāpuku is welcomed and enjoyed.

Haystacks on the bottom around rubble are a safe bet and when you start to catch your target, be sure to mark the spot and take a screenshot of the sign so you know exactly what you need to look for next time. The 1kw Airmar through-hull transducer, paired with Simrad NSS Evo3S, on our boats provides a very clear and distinct picture.

You’ll need plenty of sinkers in the 16oz plus range, and if you don’t fancy spending up large on pre-made rigs, it’s easy enough to buy one set up from the store and replicate it. Equipment-wise, you really can use a broad range when targeting hāpuku. We find the ever-reliable Okuma Makaira matched on the Okuma 200-350gm Nanomatrix rods are perfect (the identical setups we use for live-baiting). You can use an electric reel if you are fortunate enough to have one in your arsenal but, in reality, within the bounds of the Hauraki Gulf you aren’t hitting crazy depths, meaning an electric reel isn’t necessary for most anglers.

Whatever your fishing goals, don’t let the cold resign you to shore over the coming weeks. Wait for that safe weather window and get out amongst it, chances are you will be richly rewarded.

Tight lines!

Simon Brady

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