Photo: Scott Warrender hauls another fat gurnard aboard the boat.

Fishing Report Manukau West Coast

While gurnard haven’t exactly been jumping into the boat lately at least there are a few around and they are in superb condition. We have been struggling to find legal snapper or trevally in the harbour but I expect that will change very soon as water temperatures start to rise. If it wasn’t for the ever reliable kahawai our bin would have only had two lonely gurnard on our last trip. Sad but true, though I’m confident that fishing will improve soon.
Scallop beds can be hard to find and they aren’t at their best just yet. Some of our favourite areas have been covered with mud which isn’t pleasant. Hopefully we’ll see an improvement as we get closer to summer. Whitebait catches from the river have been good enough to keep people interested with a few very good catches reported by those who’ve put in the hard yards.

Photo: Arron caught this gurnard in 3m of water on a small stray lined bait.

Schools of big snapper are starting to build out at the 60 metre mark and beyond. They are in close too but be prepared to lose gear to sharks. Deeper is probably your best option. I prefer to use dropper rigs in water over 30 metres deep with 8/0 recurve hooks and a good solid sinker to anchor your line firmly on the bottom. Recurve hooks need to be used correctly though. It is important not to choke the hook with bait, just poke the hook through once. When the fish bite, wait for the rod to load up a little and crank the reel handle half a dozen or more times rather than striking. You should hook up pretty much every time once you get the hang of it. While I like to fish with light gear and braid, sharks and kahawai can cause plenty of tangles in deep water so I recommend good sturdy gear. I often use lures for snapper and gurnard and for that style of fishing braid is pretty much necessary to fish them effectively in such deep water. Just be prepared to annoy your mates a little as tangled braid can be a nightmare. I’m sure they won’t mind too much!
Regardless of where you fish, the coming months are likely to see a big improvement in fish numbers as they start feeding aggressively to put on condition for spawning. From now on I expect that most anglers heading out wide off the coast won’t find the fishing too challenging. But every day is different and with fishing there are no guarantees. However, it is usually a spectacular time to be out there. Take your opportunities as they arise but remember the west coast – especially bar crossings – can be unforgiving. Call in before and after you cross a bar and make sure you wear a lifejacket. If in doubt don’t go out!
Be aware too that the Coastguard radio channel for the Manukau is changing from Ch81 to Ch18 from October 1.
Take care, Smudge