While my favourite time to fish the west coast for snapper is spring, autumn generally has more consistent weather and there are far more options regarding localities and species. For example the coast has some great snapper and gurnard fishing in close at ten metres with albacore, tuna and kingfish all in moderate depths of 20 to 60m and marlin out to 120m. The harbour comes into its own about now and good catches of solid fish aren’t uncommon. With the right approach trevally, kahawai, snapper and kingfish are all likely to show up in your chilly bin if you target them. Here are a few tips on how to do that.
Trevally respond best to shellfish baits but small squid or pilchard baits will also produce good results. A strayline rig with a small sinker directly onto a 5/0 hook is probably the best rig to use but you do need enough lead to keep your baits on the bottom. However it doesn’t matter what rig you use if there are no trevally in the area and shellfish beds are the place to find them. If you know of a scallop or pipi bed then you will be away but ideally you want a rod with a soft tip action as these hard fighting fish are easily lost if you get too physical on the rod. Always use a landing net as they have very soft mouths and don’t like to be lifted out of the water. Grahams Beach will produce them and our last effort on the edges of the Parakau Channel produced eight nice fish. A friend who targets them got 15 on the same day at Grahams. Another very productive spot is the Waikato River mouth. They can be caught off the coast too, especially right in behind the bar.
Snapper are plentiful both in the harbour and outside. Outside, fish south of the bar in nice and close, as close as ten metres if the swells allow it. For the harbour your biggest challenge is avoiding small fish and the cursed red weed. We had great success in shallow water recently with a limit catch in three hours of fish up to three kilograms. We were only in five metres and that is probably the depth we have our most consistent results for all species. We look for guts running off the main channels of converging channels. Dropper or flasher rigs and straylined baits all work very well.
Kingfish will take baits but by far the most successful set ups are live baits fished on the bottom. The livies need to be nose hooked or the current inside the harbour will overpower them in short order. The channel edges again work well and some berley to draw in Jack mackerel will certainly interest kingfish too. Jack mackerel are our bait of choice but small kahawai also work although we get far more sharks on kahawai than we do on mackerel.
Kahawai are easy to catch most of the time and possibly the easiest way to find them is to look for gannets or terns in the area between Big Bay and Pupunga. Trolling a small lure around those work ups should produce a fish or two. Kahawai are great bait, they are very nice when fresh and are one of the better fish to use for sashimi or marinated in lemon juice and coconut cream. Tight lines and good luck! – Smudge.
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