Snap­per rigs need to suit the var­ied con­di­tions

Ac­tion hot­ting up on both coasts but large fish still com­ing from the deeper wa­ter

The New Zealand Herald - - Supersport - Ge­off Thomas

Which rig is best to use on the busi­ness end of the snap­per line? That is a ques­tion which arises of­ten when keen an­glers are dis­cussing their pas­sion. Some peo­ple opt for a ledger rig while oth­ers pre­fer a run­ning rig where the trace sits below the sinker.

On some days one rig will out­fish the other, but there are good rea­sons for this and it comes down to the con­di­tions – boat move­ment and wa­ter move­ment. The dy­nam­ics of the trace-sinker setup can be al­tered to suit the con­di­tions.

For ex­am­ple, if the boat is swing­ing on the an­chor a ledger rig with the sinker on the bot­tom un­der a cou­ple of hooks on loops, or a pre-tied flasher rig, can be pulled up away from the bot­tom where the snap­per are usu­ally found. In this case a sinker above a swivel with a trace below and a hook on the end will en­sure the bait stays hard on the bot­tom.

The same ap­plies in strong cur­rents. Con­versely, when the sur­face is still and there is lit­tle cur­rent, a ledger will of­ten pro­duce bet­ter re­sults. But the trick is to have the hooks as low as pos­si­ble.

When ty­ing a ledger the bot­tom loop should be just above the sinker so the hook will droop down on to the bot­tom, and the next hook should be as close as pos­si­ble with­out the loops be­ing able to meet and tan­gle the hooks. The pre-tied flasher rigs with coloured flash­ers on the hooks of­ten have the bot­tom hook too far above the sinker but this is eas­ily reme­died by short­en­ing it, and re­ty­ing the sinker.

The hooks on ledgers should be re­curve hooks, while the com­mon oc­to­pus or sui­cide mod­els are usu­ally tied on to the end of a long trace. The rule of thumb with a trace, or run­ning rig, is the stronger the cur­rent, the longer the trace.

With a long trace of sev­eral me­tres re­curve hooks can also be used as they ba­si­cally al­low the fish to hook them­selves, and with the bait swirling around in a strong cur­rent the bite may not felt un­til the fish is hooked. The ac­tion con­tin­ues all along the east coast off Leigh, Pakiri and Man­gawhai with schools of bait fish, birds and snap­per ev­i­dent. The Worm Beds are start­ing to fire with a lot of bait fish show­ing up, in­clud­ing jack mack­erel.

But the best re­sults for large fish are still com­ing from the deeper wa­ter fur­ther out where work-ups are in full swing. There are good fish all along the ca­ble line east of Kawau, and north of Tiri Matangi Is­land con­tin­ues to pro­duce. One ex­am­ple of the old adage ‘‘fish your feet first’’ came from Kawakawa Bay this week, where an ex­pe­ri­enced fish­er­man rowed out in a dinghy just be­fore dawn and fished in the cen­tre of the bay. He al­ways uses un­weighted light tackle with pilchards for bait, and his only com­plaint is that the snap­per are “a bit on the big side” as he prefers fish of 1kg to 2kg for fil­let­ing. Once the sun is up the fish are gone.

The Manukau Har­bour has im­proved with snap­per turn­ing up in the deep chan­nels, and a long trace works well in the strong cur­rents. In fact some huge snap­per are caught ev­ery sum­mer by lo­cal an­glers who put out a large bait like a fil­let of mul­let or a mul­let head on a very long trace. The only prob­lem can be the sharks which also take a lik­ing to such baits. Scal­lops in the har­bour are in top con­di­tion, and the beds off Clark’s Beach are pop­u­lar.

Off the west coast is fir­ing, which is nor­mal for this time of the sea­son. With no ob­vi­ous struc­tures like the reefs which line the east coast, fish­er­men mark their fish­ing spots by the depth, which is a gen­tle gra­di­ent. Any­where from 50 to 60 me­tres seems to be the most pro­duc­tive wa­ter.

Ka­hawai are com­mon in many ar­eas, and can be hooked by drift­ing and float­ing a bait, or cast­ing lures and jigs. These fish are highly prized in Aus­tralia where they are called salmon be­cause of their sim­i­lar­ity to trout and salmon, but they are not re­lated. In this coun­try we have ma­ligned the ka­hawai in the past, but the species is be­com­ing more val­ued as peo­ple re­alise it makes fine eat­ing as well as bait.

Whether pre­pared as raw fish, smoked or in a pie there is noth­ing wrong with ka­hawai on the ta­ble.

Windy con­di­tions af­fected fish­ing on the Ro­torua lakes last week­end but all meth­ods are now pro­duc­ing good fish. Jig­ging at Hau­paru Bay on Lake Ro­toiti has picked up and should con­tinue to im­prove as the wa­ter warms, while har­ling at the south­ern end of Lake Okataina and on Tarawera is im­prov­ing. At Lake Taupo all the signs are for a good start to the smelt­ing sea­son. Trout are still deep, and those fish­ing jigs and down­rig­gers re­port fish are at 30-40 me­tres. Fly fish­ing the stream mouths should be good with a new moon and dark nights.

Snap­per ac­tion is hap­pen­ing all along the east coast.

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