Fish­ers snap­ping up the bay’s bounty

Nelson Mail - - News - Tim O’Con­nell tim.ocon­nell@stuff.co.nz

It’s been a sub­dued start to sum­mer fish­ing in Tas­man Bay, but there’s no need for boat­ies to sling their hooks.

Ac­cord­ing to weather fore­casts, the best is yet to come.

As ex­pected, snap­per has ap­peared to be the most com­mon catch among those ven­tur­ing be­yond The Cut in re­cent weeks.

Nel­son-based fish­ing guru Troy Dando said slightly colder tem­per­a­tures in Tas­man Bay had meant a qui­eter than usual start to the sea­son, par­tic­u­larly around the Boul­der Bank, The Glen and Pepin Is­land.

Fish­ing spots be­tween Rab­bit Is­land and Motueka had re­mained boun­ti­ful, pro­duc­ing big­ger fish up to nine kilo­grams at depths of 30 to 40 me­tres.

How­ever, re­ports of sea tem­per­a­tures up to 6 de­grees C warmer than usual on the West Coast and pre­dic­tions of an El Nino weather pat­tern sug­gested bet­ter days ahead for those keen to drop a line, Dando said.

‘‘The re­ports I’m get­ting from down there are pretty im­pres­sive . . . even up north they’re start­ing to get some yel­lowfin [tuna] be­cause of the warmer seas, which is un­heard of for this time of year.’’

Snap­per spawn from Oc­to­ber to Fe­bru­ary, when the wa­ter tem­per­a­ture is right, and usu­ally re­turn to the same spawn­ing grounds each year. They are most abun­dant at depths of 15m to 60m but are found down to about 200m.

A prized catch due to its soft white meat and few bones, snap­per are known to live to about 60 years and can grow to about 17kg or just over a me­tre long.

In No­vem­ber 1992, Kiwi an­gler Mark Hem­ing­way set the All-Tackle world record for snap­per with a mas­sive 17.2kg fish landed in only 10 min­utes off Motiti Is­land in the Bay of Plenty.

As well as the usual abun­dance of snap­per, Dando said there had been an in­crease in an­other good­eat­ing fish species.

‘‘John Dory seems to be turn­ing up on a lot of the com­mer­cial catches, which means that the recre­ational fish­er­men are get­ting a bonus out there as well.

‘‘They tend to go for live bait, so any­one us­ing a slow jig, which is al­most the same thing, are pick­ing them up mid-bay.’’

For­merly of Christchurch, Nel­son fish­er­man Dar­ryn Hop­kins caught his first snap­per off Haulashore Is­land as a child.

Now, us­ing stan­dard rods and a long­line, he said he had en­joyed sev­eral good trips off the Ma­pua coast in re­cent weeks, col­lect­ing some snap­per with wife Emma and friend Kris Cumpthorne be­fore head­ing out a bit deeper to catch a few gurnard.

‘‘The funny thing is, about five or six years ago I bought a boat from up here to take back down to Christchurch, but the guy that I bought the boat from left all his spots on the GPS – so credit to him that we are do­ing good.

‘‘The last three or four years have been awe­some – it’s changed heaps, and you’re get­ting some good-sized fish th­ese days,’’ he said.

Snap­per bag lim­its for the Chal­lenger area, which in­cludes Tas­man Bay and Golden Bay, are 10 per per­son per day, with a min­i­mum length of 25cm. A sub-limit of three can be taken from the Marl­bor­ough Sounds Area.

How­ever, catch­ing small fry does not seem to be an is­sue for Hop­kins and his crew. ‘‘We haven’t caught a fish that we’ve had to throw back yet, and that’s with me mak­ing our boat limit 35cm – any­thing smaller than that, there’s no point.’’

SI­MON MAUDE/STUFF

Warmer sea tem­per­a­tures could mean good snap­per catches in Tas­man Bay this sum­mer.

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