Strong west and north-west winds have made fishing difficult, but there are fish to be found when boats can get out. Little Barrier Island has been fishing well to strayline baits fished close to shore in a berley trail and one party caught and released several large snapper last week. There have also been schools of snapper two miles north-east of The Noises which can be located on the fish finder and slow jigs in dark red have been used successfully. The trick is to fish the lures with plenty of braid line out so it is at a low angle and the lure is lying flat on the bottom, puffing up sand when the rod is lifted.
There has been some increased activity in the shallows out of Kawakawa Bay, and there are always some resident fish in these areas, just like at places like the Bean Rock reef, East Coast Bays and from Whangaparaoa to Kawau. The approach should be slow, and the anchor put down carefully to reduce noise which in shallow water will scare the snapper. Plenty of berley is needed, and a cluster of pilchards on the hook to start helps attract fish. Soft baits can also be used from the anchored boat, casting out to the side and fishing the lure slowly as it swings across the current, just like trout fishing on a river.
Heavy inflows of rainwater have made fishing difficult in the Manukau Harbour, but scallops in the harbour are in top condition. One technique worth trying is to use the fringe from scallops as bait, to target trevally, but of course any scallops opened on the boat count as part of the daily bag.
These feisty silver fish are occasionally hooked while fishing for snapper or gurnard, but they prefer shellfish to cut baits and can be targeted. A trevally of the same size as a small snapper will fight twice as hard, and as they have soft mouths a landing net should be used to bring them on to the boat. If simply lifted on the line the fish may well drop off the hook. While a generation ago trevally were used only for bait, they are now respected for their valuable table qualities. When presented as sashimi or marinated in lime juice and coconut milk with chopped red onions and capsicum trevally is right up there with kahawai and kingfish, ahead of snapper, and are also fine when poached in milk as a fillet or simply lightly pan fried.
Off the Northland coast good results have come from finding structure or schools of fish on the sounder, and dropping ledger rigs.
As in the lakes, fishing should pick up as water temperatures rise, which shouldn’t be far away.
The normal pattern will see large numbers of snapper migrating into the Hauraki Gulf to spawn during October and November. One tranche moves down the coast from Bream Bay into the gulf past Litte Barrier and Kawau Islands; while another mass of fish enters the firth of Thames via the Colville Channel.
Snapper in the Bay of Islands are reported to have moved out from the shallows into deeper water, and male fish are schooling prior to spawning.
Snapper are repeat spawners and will lay their eggs several times over the summer. The process is rarely seen and probably occurs at night, when the fish rise to the surface to produce their eggs and milt.
The gulf is the most important snapper spawning resource on the east coast, while on the west coast it is understood that 90 per cent of the recruitment of young fish comes out of the Kaipara Harbour.
Tough weather conditions and poor fishing made this year’s season opening on Lake Tarawera last Sunday a difficult one. Anglers generally reported catching trout that were disappointing in terms of their poor condition, or too small to keep.
The two-year-old fish which make up the bulk of the catch were slightly smaller than usual, at an average length of 48cm and average weight of 1.2kg.
These are trout that were liberated as yearlings from the hatchery in September-October last year, so they have been in the lake for 12 months.
Last year’s opening day saw those two-year-old trout averaging 49cm and 1.36kg.
At Tarawera fisheries officers checked 322 anglers on opening day, for 282 fish kept. The catch rate was 0.87 trout per angler, compared to 1.1 last year, 1.0 in 2015 and 1.25 in 2014.
But the number of people on the lake was also down, probably because of the weather and it was a Sunday. The largest fish they weighed was 3kg, and there were some others around 2.9kg.
Deep trolling produced the best results, with black tobies and traffic light Tasmanian devils working well. A lot of boats were jigging, but many struggled to catch fish. Harling at dawn and dusk was also productive for a short time.
Lake Rotoiti produced the best-conditioned trout on average, with the two-year-old hatchery fish averaging 49.4cm and 1.43kg, with the largest reported caught weighing 3.6kg. On Lake Okataina the fishing was also hard, and two-year-old hatchery fish averaged 49.6cm and 1.41kg, with the largest caught a 3.7kg trout.
Bite times are 1.50am and 2.20pm tomorrow and 2.45am and 3.10pm on Sunday.
Tip of the week
When targeting trevally use small hooks and soft baits like a chunk of pilchard, or mussel or tuatua tied on to the hook with bait elastic. They can be line shy, so a hook tied directly to the main line will have more success than one with a heavy trace. Floating or lightly weighted baits will also be more attractive to the fish. Berley can also be used to bring them within range.