Easter Weekend Fishing Tips

Prospects are good for fishing over the long weekend, with conditions excellent for finding a feed of snapper on both coasts.

And a full moon on Sunday should deliver fine weather – a phenomenon which occurs most months. Consistent north-easterly winds during the week kept warm water in the shallows, ensuring the snapper remain in inshore waters.

This will change when the wind changes, which it will eventually. The normal pattern during autumn is influenced by the weather, and cold south-westerlies will cause water temperatures to drop and the snapper will respond by starting their annual migration into deep water.  This is simply because deep water retains warmer temperatures better than the shallows, and snapper follow warmer waters throughout the year.

In the Waitemata Harbour the fish will move down the harbour, congregating off North Head. Another tranche of fish will move from the shallows along the Tamaki Strait, gathering in the 25-metre hole off Park Point on Waiheke Island.

They will remain there for a week or two, before heading out to points off the Noises and D’Urville Rocks. Fisherman who understand the habits of their quarry will follow them, finding the schools on the sea bed with their electronics.

The same mass movements of migrating snapper occur on both coasts, and local knowledge and experience come into play – as they do with all fishing.

But until the cold winds arrive fish will still be found in the Rangitoto Channel, in the shallow foul around the Rangitoto shoreline, and around the Noises and David Rocks, and the many spots along the Waiheke shore and further afield.

The good news is that tides this weekend will be some of the highest, with highs of 3.4 metres on Saturday and Sunday in the Waitemata, courtesy of the full moon. The big moon does not always deliver big tides, as for six months of the year the largest tides occur on the new moon.

But the tides at the weekend will produce strong currents, which are the key to successful snapper fishing. It is always a good idea to be on the spot for the turn of the tide as sometimes the fish will bite on the last of the outgoing, and sometimes after it turns. When fishing in the channels or the harbour, and there are plenty of snapper off Bayswater at the moment, the current will become too strong to keep terminal tackle on the bottom and it is time to shift. One answer is to drift, which is not always smart in a harbour constantly washed by passing ferries, or to move out into the wide spaces. The worm beds north of Rangitoto and the middle ground between Waiheke and the Noises are holding good numbers of fish, as is the Firth of Thames and the west coast around the 50 to 60-metre mark.

In the Bay of Plenty the snapper are running well off Matarangi and all along the coast to Opito Bay, and it is not necessary to travel out to Great Mercury Island to find fish. Saturday is the last day of the scallop season so divers and those dragging dredges will have their last chance to pick up a meal this weekend.

This is a prime time of the year for surfcasting off Ninety-Mile Beach, and long lines set with electric torpedoes should also produce good results all along west coast beaches.


A recent fishing contest on the Rotorua lakes resulted in all prizes taken by trout caught jigging on Lake Rotoiti, which continues to produce the largest fish in the region. The exception is the brown trout which are running at the monent out of Lake Rotorua and up the Ngongotaha and Waiteti Streams, and are larger on average than rainbows. With cooler nights arriving the harling with flies near the surface should improve on all lakes. At Lake Taupo the bright moon will make fly fishing hard at small stream mouths, but this is the time the various rips at the mouths of the Tongariro River fish well, particularly in moonlit conditions.

Bite times

Bite times are 12.50am and 1.15pm on Saturday, and 1.40am and 1pm on Sunday.

Tip of the week

Experienced snapper anglers will take several rods, with different rigs for different situations. For example a light braid casting rod, like a soft bait outfit, with a short trace and a small ball sinker sliding above two hooks is ideal or casting baits away from the boat in shallow water. A half pilchard is a great bait in this situation, and this would be the preferred approach in spots like the flats off Bayswater in the harbour, where it is about four metres deep. A 6/0 suicide hook with a smaller sliding hook above it will hold a half pillie well. When using the head end the bigger hook can be passed through the eye and then through the body by the gut, with the secondary hook inserted through the back behind the head. The tail end can be rigged in reverse, pushing the main hook right through the thin part and then through the side, ensuring the whole point is protruding. The  small hook then goes through the body, and a half hitch tied around the tail. Baits rigged like this will not fly off when casting. In deeper water, like in the channels, a flasher or ledger rig with the sinker at the bottom of the trace and recurved hooks on the side loops is the better option. These are baited with chunks of pilchard, or strips of squid or fresh kahawai.

Photo : Geoff Thomas
Prospects are good for snapper fishing this weekend.