NZ fishing legend John Moran shares his top shallow hotspots.
A lovely sandy beach just out of Warkworth. During the summer months launch your small boat off the beach either early in the morning or in the late afternoon. We used to anchor up about five hundred metres behind the last wave line. Once the berley kicks in, big snapper can be caught here. Top bait is pieces of flounder fished unweighted. Big kingfish and double figure snapper hang out here so don’t be afraid to use heavier gear.
Again, close to Warkworth and the Sandspit camping ground. The late, great Tiny Coe and I fished from his little Stabicraft tinnie here early one morning on the western side of the channel in only two metres of water using mullet gut for bait, down a mullet berley trail. We only caught five snapper that morning but these weighed from 5 to 9kg. Tiny capped his day by catching (and later releasing) a kingfish I estimated at going 25kg, caught on a live kahawai.
This fishing wonderland contains literally hundreds of places that seem to be specifically created just for straylining. Just to mention a few, on the eastern side of the peninsular we have Whangapoua Harbour, Waikawau Bay and Port Charles, while on the western (Auckland) side have a look at Colville Bay, Fantail Bay and Papaaroha. Tiny and I once went straylining alongside the kelp line off Fantail Bay, down a berley trail using solely handlines and we got a hell of a shock to nail nothing but 15lb-plus snapper all morning. We put them all back as we only wanted a pannie each for lunch as we were camping there. We settled for sausages that day…
I could easily write a book on this subject, about my experiences fishing with old faded cotton hand lines in muddy backwaters, where I nailed some incredible fish in water as shallow as a couple of metres. Yet these sorts of places are largely ignored by anglers. Discoloured water is much better to fish in than when it’s gin clear as the crafty old snapper can’t see or sense you in these conditions. Places I have done very well by fishing in similar conditions include Te Atatu, Point Chevalier, Wenderholm, Glassons Creek on the Manukau Harbour, and even the Waiuku River. I am convinced that mangroves are big snapper magnets.