5 factors for land-based success

By Joel WestcotNZ Fishing World
5 factors for land-based success

The makings of a great land-based spot X usually come down to a number of key factors, many of which change on a daily basis. The reality is that for one reason or another a spot that was red hot last week might be stone cold the next. The idea is to identify as many factors as possible that contribute to specific spots being productive.

Shallow water at low tide will surprise

1. The Weather

Often the best fishing days are those less comfortable for the angler. Cloudy, rainy days mean less light is penetrating the water column and because of this, fish tend to be less wary and more inclined to accept an angler's offering.

Likewise, a bit of wind or chop is more preferable for snapper fishing than a glassy day. It diffuses the light and creates natural noise as well as stirring up the bottom to release food. The end result - bolder, more actively feeding fish.

A spot I regularly hit in the summer for kingfish is governed by quite an opposite set of factors.

The success here revolves around good water clarity. Like many other Waitemata kingfish spots, it fishes great at daybreak and about two hours either side of high tide.

However, if it has been blowing a gale or raining a lot leading up to your planned attack, either sleep in or fish for snapper as muddy waters will greatly diminish your chances of success.  

Wind is an obvious and universal weather consideration for the land-based fisherman. If you have a twenty knot southerly blowing in your face, fishing is damned near impossible, not mention down-right unpleasant. So if the wind is howling, find somewhere in the lee or at least somewhere you can get your back to the wind.

This way you will be able to cast your bait and your livey balloon won't end up at your feet. Google Maps are a great way to ascertain what areas will be out of the wind.

Landbased tips and techniques

2. Water Movement

We land-basers are at the mercy of tide and swell as they influence not only how a spot will fish but if it can be fished at all.

Access is key and tied to this is safety. If you plan on exploring a new area aim to fish three hours either side of low for a safe option. This way you know you won't get wet, stuck, drown your phone, keys or yourself!

Low tide allows access a lot of productive water such as reefs and weed-lines that are easily overlooked. If you are looking for a new spot to fish, again get on Google Earth. Here you can view low tide photos, figure out access points and scope out likely looking water. 

On the open coast, the bottom end of the tide is great for snapper, kahawai and kingfish.

While the tide is slack things inevitably slow down but as the current picks up, crustaceans move from their nooks and crannies, plankton and other morsels become available to baitfish and our target species will follow.

If you haven't fished the hallows at low tide shallows before you are in for a treat. You will be amazed at the size of snapper that can be caught and how hard they fight in only a meter of water!

There are fantastic shallow water opportunities around areas like Whangaparaoa and Waiwera. Look out for fingers of reef jutting out into the sea and don't be put off by water that appears too shallow.

Nice land based snapper

3. Swell

Too much swell is dangerous and if you have any doubts about your safety, DON'T FISH! 

In deeper water spots, the right amount of swell creates whitewater that provides fish with cover and dislodges food held on the shoreline and surrounding reefs.

A day or two after a big swell has gone can be dynamite with the bottom stirred up and all kinds of prey and food available to predatory and scavenging fish.

Even a small amount of swell can make all the difference and success in some areas is dependent on it, so be sure to factor in the current and previous day's swell.

Conversely, if you are targeting kings, water clarity is key and areas such as Whatipu on the Manukau are known to fish best after a few days of low swell on the west coast.

solid kingfish from the rocks

4. Current

Areas with lots of current are often excellent producers of all species, especially kingfish.

The most successful areas seem to be where rocky points or ledges run into current lines. These can be distinguished by lines of foam, rougher water and even bits of floating rubbish.

Current is great when berleying and can attract fish from afar and is especially good when trying to attract baitfish.

Swimming live baits between strong current and weed lines in the middle of summer is a sure fire way to get a crack at a land-based king. All you have to do then is land it!

Another solid land based snapper

5. Structure

When choosing a spot look for places with plenty of structure but bear in mind if you are targeting kingfish, structure can be a double-edged sword. The same weed and oyster-covered boulders that are providing habitat for the kingfish prey are exactly where his majesty will head when hooked.

Even the rocks at your feet have caused the loss of many a fish. So, if you are planning on targeting kingfish, when possible do so in areas that will hold fish but allow the possibility of a successful fight.

If big snapper are your quarry, areas of structure such as kelp, rocks and reef are where you want to head (the more the better).

Good gear with the grunt to pull them out of the reef is an essential ingredient to success. 

Snapper often seem to hang out in quite specific areas so don't just cast in the same spot every time, work your way around casting 180 degrees until you find fish and if you come up zeros, walk 20 meters down the line and try again.

Clear days are best for kingfish

All the factors above contribute to land-based success but there are many others.

The more you fish an area, the more you will learn its idiosyncrasies. You can't spend enough time exploring new places and it's often quite profitable to go for a walk with out the rod and scope out areas before you fish them. The more spots you know, the more options you will have. 

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