Gurnard tend to hold their condition better off the coast in the warmer months than those staying on in the harbour and there are good catches of them to be had amongst the snapper schools.
The best technique I’ve found for deep water is to use a dropper rig with a trace of at least 60lb, and 8/0 recurve hook with a streamlined bait only hooked through once at one end. Let the fish bite a few times before cranking the reel a dozen times and you should hook up. The harbour has improved hugely in the last month, especially for snapper and trevally.
It can be a challenge to avoid small snapper at this time of year, but using at least 6/0 hooks will allow them to be released unharmed.
If there are plagues of undersized fish it’s best to move.
Survival rates for small fish are q u i t e high if they are handled properly but big fish need special care if they are to be released successfully. If the fish has an inflated swim bladder, is gut hooked or has bulging eyes, it’s best to dispatch it quickly and add it to your catch. Many people with the right intentions, thinking they are protecting breeding stock, release these big fish only for them to die within days. Undersized fish must be returned dead or alive. The regulations for the Manukau and Auckland’s west coast allow recreational anglers to take 10 snapper per angler and the minimum size is 270mm.
Other rules apply, please learn them before you go fishing! Kingfish are starting to show up in the harbour but mostly they are undersized. They are a much hardier fish than snapper and survive recapture very well. Please remember to follow the rules of the sea when boating and learn what those rules are, particularly those for lifejackets (pfd’s) but be aware that different rules apply for different areas. I’d like to also thank Coastguard for their work in running a bar crossing day on the 14th, the next one will be in February. If you aren’t a Coastguard member and you own a boat, you should seriously consider joining.
Take care, Smudge.