The Grave­yard comes to life with big snap­per

The New Zealand Herald - - Super Sport - Ge­off Thomas

The west coast is where it’s hap­pen­ing, with snap­per up to 8kg com­ing from Raglan, and good fish re­ported up and down the coast. The Grave­yard on the Kaipara Har­bour has also ben­e­fited from the in­flux of big snap­per on the coast, and is fish­ing well.

The ac­tion seems to be in be­tween 50 and 60 me­tres of wa­ter, which is quite a way off­shore on a coast where the seabed is flat and fea­ture­less and slopes away grad­u­ally. So it is a ques­tion of stop­ping and drop­ping baits on the favourite west coast rig — a sim­ple flasher or dropped rig with a cou­ple of chunks of bait on large re­curved hooks — and wait­ing for the snap­per to turn up.

Off the Manukau Har­bour it is of­ten a ques­tion of drop­ping the an­chor, catch­ing a cou­ple of snap­per and then mov­ing to an­other spot as there are sharks ev­ery­where and they some­times turn up quickly when a fish is hooked.

In the Hau­raki Gulf, the pat­tern has changed, and where two weeks ago there were good num­bers of snap­per at the 40m mark, they have moved into shal­lower wa­ter. On the western side from Tir­i­tiri Matangi Is­land to Kawau Is­land the bet­ter fish­ing can be found be­tween 20 and 25m, and when there are no work-ups hap­pen­ing many fish­er­men are an­chor­ing and send­ing out berley to at­tract the fish.

Drift­ing and drop­ping slow jigs and soft baits will pick up some fish, but it is a ques­tion of try­ing dif­fer­ent spots un­til you find fish.

The pat­tern is the same in the Firth of Thames where snap­per can be found in 18-20m of wa­ter, but gen­er­ally it has slowed down.

Stray-lin­ing with light line in wa­ter only three or four me­tres deep has also been work­ing well along both sides of the Ta­maki Strait.

Break the head off a pilchard to let the blood and juices run out and cast it un­weighted well out from the boat down a berley trail.

Peo­ple in small boats fish­ing into the dark are a worry for many boat­ies re­turn­ing home, and some peo­ple seem to ig­nore the rule that re­quires a light to be shown at night. Even a torch is bet­ter than noth­ing, but the onus is also on other boats which should al­ways have some­body on watch when trav­el­ling in low light.

Scal­lops in the Rakino Chan­nel are in good con­di­tion, and they also nice and fat on the Manukau Har­bour with no sign of the rot­ting weed which plagued those who were dredg­ing for scal­lops in past years.

Some an­glers are us­ing the frill from the scal­lop meat for bait, thread­ing it on to a size 2/0 hook with a very small sinker on a soft bait rod and cast­ing over the banks in the ar­eas where they have been dredg­ing, and hooking some nice trevally. One fish­er­man caught one of 2.4kg us­ing this ap­proach.

School snap­per are also in the har­bour in rea­son­able num­bers al­though they are not yet wide­spread; be­ing more con­cen­trated at the top of the har­bour by the junc­tion of the Pa­pakura and Waiuku Chan­nels. The first king­fish are also show­ing up in the har­bour.

Fish­ing around the Mer­cury group of is­lands is pick­ing up and cray­fish are in deep wa­ter around 25 me­tres, but cast­ing soft baits along the coast of Great Bar­rier Is­land has been good, from Tryphena to Cape Bar­rier and Welling­ton Head with snap­per up to 12kg caught and re­leased.

King­fish can be hard to find in the Bay of Plenty, but there are good num­bers of tarak­ihi on the edge of the deeper reefs in 60-70 me­tres of wa­ter. Snap­per fish­ing is also bet­ter in deep wa­ter al­though two 5kg snap­per were caught on lures a mile off Mt Maun­ganui.

In the Bay of Is­lands, those an­glers on the wa­ter at dawn are do­ing well drift­ing in 50 me­tres, and dur­ing the

day some nice snap­per are be­ing taken on the up-cur­rent side of Cen­tre Foul. King­fish can be hard to find in the bay, but the bet­ter ac­tion is on the 71-me­tre reef and at Whale Rock.

Fresh wa­ter

The new moon to­day brings dark nights, which are ideal for fly fish­ing at small stream mouths on the Ro­torua and Taupo lakes.

Har­ling on all the lakes has picked up as smelt ac­tiv­ity in­creases, al­though a higher pro­por­tion of fish that are re­cov­er­ing after spawn­ing are hooked in the shal­lows com­pared to deep trolling.

On Lake Tarawera, the im­prove­ment in the size and con­di­tion of trout con­tin­ues, al­though there have been few boats on the lake.

Some of the fish which were lib­er­ated last year in Oc­to­ber and are now just over two years old (they are one year old when re­leased) are touch­ing 2.65kg on the scales, which is just un­der 6lbs in the old mea­sure. These can be iden­ti­fied by the left pelvic fin miss­ing.

Fish and Game mark the year­lings by clip­ping off one of the pelvic fins — on the left side in un­even years, and the right side on even years. This also ap­plies to other lakes, and some of the lib­er­a­tions are stag­gered through the year, with the ma­jor­ity re­leased in the spring as these seem to have the best sur­vival rate.

The pop­u­la­tion com­prises about 70 per cent lib­er­ated fish and 30 per cent re­cruited nat­u­rally through the spawn­ing streams which feed the lake.

Photo / Ge­off Thomas

Snap­per are run­ning well off the west coast.

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