Look for the bait fish – that is the message from experienced fishermen at the moment. There are plenty of fish around, but they are not spead all over the ocean as you often find in mid-summer.
Shoals of kahawai chasing bait fish signalled where the action was in the Rangitoto Channel during the week, and there were some snapper under the activity. Further out there has been a patch of fish at 27 metres, between The Noises and Tiritiri Matangi Island; and also on the seaward side of Kawau Island. Again, it is a question of looking for birds, or look for sign on the depth sounder indicating schools of bait in midwater.
The other fishing which is firing is in the shallows where kayakers are doing well. Drifting and casting soft baits or lightly weighted baits of a half pilchard or squid on light line works well, and if anchored in a small boat a good berley trail will improve your chances.
Squid are also coming in close at present and can be caught at night with small squid jigs cast from wharves like those at Maraetai and Orakei, or off Mission Bay.
The Manukau Harbour continues to fish well with snapper up to 4kg in the harbour, and gurnard starting to turn up. Nomally the snapper have gone by now and gurnard have moved in, but this should change when winter finally arrives.
Fishing is also going well in the Firth of Thames, whether accessing it from the Coromandel side or the Waiheke Island side, and if you want john dory for dinner they are plentiful, and easy to catch with the right approach. It is a question of looking for the small bumps on the sea bed, indicating rocks or pinnacles or drop-offs, and putting down live baits. Sprats or yellowtails are fine, and the johnnies love them. They will also take jigs and soft baits, which of course represent the small fish which dory prey on.
This is a good time of year for john dory. The yellowtail live bait can
be seen inside its mouth.
Dory are master hunters. They like to hang around rocks, reefs and weed beds and they ambush their prey. Their bodies are are designed so that from in front they are almost invisible, and their mottled colour blends in with surrounding weed and shadows. The dory drift slowly towards their quarry and when in range they shoot open their telescopic mouth engulfing water and dinner. The water is expelled out the gills and the fish swallowed. John dory have a black spot on each flank which in legend is said to be the fingerprints of St Peter, who picked up the fish when Christ was feeding the masses. An interesting theory, but a bit difficult to prove.
However, they are poor swimmers and can be literally picked up in shallow water, where they are occasionally stranded by the falling tide.
With firm, white flesh dory are tasty table fish and many people rate them higher than most other fish. While a bit fiddly to fillet, when the fillet is removed it is boneless and can be cooked with the skin on as the scales are contaiend in the skin and are not noticeable similar to eels and gurnard.
An important approach when boating a hooked dory is to use a landing net, for the hook often falls out if the fish is lifted over the side. And they can be identified when hooked by the slow heavy weight, with occasional tugs, and should be wound in steadily and smoothly, with no sharp lifting of the rod or the hook may pull out.
But it is the snapper fishing in shallow water which continues to surprise people.
Some Thames fishermen have been doing well catching snapper in water as shallow as 1.7 metres, off TePuru, and the mussel farms are producing snapper up to 3kg and there are plenty of kingfish around – although they are hard to control around the mussel lines.
Surfcasters fishing from the rocks on the Thames coast are catching fish at high tide, and this shoreline fishing could continue right through the winter.
This is also the prime time for targeting large kingfish with live baits all along the Coromandel Peninsula, and in Northland. Land-based game fishermen specialise in chasing big kings and snapper from rock ledges, and will travel as far as Lottin Point, near East Cape, and Spirits Bay at the top of the country. A kahawai secured under a balloon is the favoured bait, and tackle shoud be sturdy stand-up gear which can stop the hard runs of a powerful king. Some anglers tether themselves to a rock to prevent being pulled into the sea, and it is always important to watch the waves and be aware of the rising tide, for it can be dangerous in rougb seas.
One pair of anglers reported excellent fishing while jigging on the Blue Lake, near Rotorua, this week. This is one lake that receives very little fishing pressure as it is used mainly for boating and rowing events, but in three hours of fishing they landed 14 rainbows, not huge but in top condition.
Bite times today are 1.35am and 2pm, and tomorrow at 2.25am and 2pm.45pm tomorrow.
Tip of the week
When dropping baits for snapper try both ledger rigs or flasher rigs and a trace on different rods to see which works best. On some days one rig will outfish the other, and with tides over 3.1 metres this weekend a trace might be the best option, particularly in the channels. A flasher rig catches the current more than a sinker with a trace below it, and can be harder to keep on the bottom. One option is to keep letting line slip out and the baits will bounce along the bottom until too far away when they can be wound in and the process repeated. As tide flows increase a heavier sinker may be needed, and if fish stop biting it may be simply because the current is keeping baits up above the seabed.