As I have been fishing up Northland more than in the Gulf lately, it makes sense for me to write a report of the action up here! This week the fishing in the Bream Bay and Whangarei Harbour has definitely improved. The water temps are cooling a bit and the fish seem to be in closer and hungry after spawning. The anchovies have also moved into the Harbour and Bream Bay which always ramps the fishing up!
Whangarei Harbour has started to fire.
The early morning dawn, and late afternoon to dusk, have been the best times to head out and get a feed of fat snapper! And I mean fat, fat snapper with all the bait they are eating at the moment!
We have been fishing the last few hours of the outgoing tide at dawn and dusk, with great results. We drift down the channels and banks with a large drogue in (the drift is up to three knots). Areas we have done really well in are Snake Bank and the channel out of Urquharts Bay. We have been using heavy 2oz softbaits and 100-200g sliders to get to the bottom in the fast drifts. With this fast-paced fishing, you don't really feel bites and the fish come on hard and give a great fight in the current. Not only have we been catching snapper but john dory and trevally as well.
The anchovies have arrived in Bream Bay and close behind them are hungry snapper. We head down the Bay in 15-20m looking for terns and petrels working the bait. Once we find them and the bait beneath, the drogue is deployed and we cast out lightly weighted softbaits (1/2 oz), working them back to the boat. The hits in this shallow water are amazing and the fat snapper fight really hard for their size! We also drop 40-60g sliders down with my favourite colour being a green head and red skirt – nothing like an anchovy but they love it! We also get the odd trevally and kingfish that are balling up the bait as above. We are finding dawn and dusk up to low tide (the major bite time) is best for this style of fishing.
There are some fat snapper out wider.
After mornings in Bream Bay, we head out deeper as the days are bright and the bite slows. On the 5th of February, we found fish at 30m feeding on anchovy again. Then as I scanned the horizon toward the Hen and Chicks, I could see massive workups in about 45m. We got there and saw whales, dolphins and diving gannets over a large area devouring the bait. I thought we were all on, but to my surprise, the snapper were pretty thin beneath this amazing workup!
Anchovy schools are moving inshore, attracting hungry predators.
We then headed out to 60m and drifted an area northwest of the Chicks. This area can produce huge snapper at this time of year and it is a motorway for the moving schools of snapper. On this day, it was not really happening, but I expect this area to be outstanding over the next month or so.
Old Woman / Bream Head
Once I have done a circle of Bream Bay as above, I usually have my final fish off the Old Woman by Bream Head as I head back in. This area is another motorway for fish and we often pick up the biggest fish of the day from here. We fish 20-40m through here and drop 200g sliders and 2oz softbaits to get down in the big current.
I hope the above information helps you out there!
Capt. Nik (Snap)
Snap Fishing Ventures
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