Gone Fishing with Smudge

The West Coast has been very productive from winter right through until now, and while that good thing hasn’t yet come to an end, things have certainly changed.
Snapper can still be caught out at 60m, but they have definitely started to move around. We’ve had some great catches at 40 to 45m directly in front of or a little south of the bar in the last couple of weeks and I’m sure it won’t be long before they are in closer. The downside of that is that the fish are more spread out and harder to find. Still, it isn’t too much of a struggle to get onto them. If you get no bites initially it is always best to wait at least 20 or 30 minutes before moving on. While most of the snapper being caught are around 2kg, it’s not unusual to catch four to seven kilogram fish, with some anglers getting fish well over the magic 20lb.
Kingfish are around too and are a welcome addition to the bin for most anglers. Remember the minimum size limit though, it is 75cm. Some fishermen are also getting good catches of gurnard while snapper fishing, some of them rather big at 1kg plus.
Mako sharks are hanging around those depths and they like nothing more than chomping your fish in half or biting off your lures but they aren’t too much of an issue for snapper fishermen. Take care when dealing with them at the boat though because they are powerful and dangerous. While the small ones are supposedly good for smoking you don’t want to take them lightly. It’s best to cut the line above the hook, which the fish will soon lose.
No gamefish have been caught out west as of writing but the blue water is getting closer and the water temps are high for this time of year. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of a west coast marlin being caught this side of Christmas. Tuna are showing up at 80m and moving closer by the day. The first billfish won’t be far away and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of one caught in the near future.
The harbour has been a little tricky with the big tides of late and the appearance of red weed. Once that weed is on your line it needs to be removed straight away as the fish won’t be interested in your baits. It’s best to move to another channel or out of the big currents when that stuff is around. While small snapper can be a nuisance there are some bigger ones if you put in the time. I use 8/0 hooks to keep the catch of small snaps to a minimum, if you think that’s too big we still get the odd undersized fish on the big hooks. You will also find kingfish, trevally, kahawai and the occasional gurnard snooping around in the harbour.
Remember there is a shellfish ban on due to paralytic shellfish poisoning so give them a miss for now. A pair of hooligans aren’t really getting into the Christmas spirit and there have been a number of break ins to cars at Te Toro recently, so please report any suspicious activity to the police.
If you have any reports to share I’d love to hear them. I’m sure the Post Newspaper would welcome your photos too! Have a great Christmas and take care on the water.
Cheers, Smudge

CAPTION:‘Gumboot’ pictured with a whopper West Coast gurnard.

CAPTION:Neil Bray with a brace of snapper.


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