NZ Fishing World home
NZ Fishing World

The beginner's guide to bad weather fishing

December 19, 2019
The beginner's guide to bad weather fishing

As I write this, there’s a big blow lashing my home waters of Auckland. The northerly winds are gusting to 40 knots, and there is a two metre swell pounding both coasts. Not great conditions for fishing, in fact, it’s downright dangerous! Auckland storm weather The view from my kayak on the day I started writing this article. Great to be out there, although not one fish came to the party. However, experience has taught me that in all likelihood the fish will still be there and biting, provided I can find a spot that is sheltered and safe. When you only get the odd fishing window here and there, you really need to grab it. The last thing you want is stormy weather. So what do you do? Fortunately, in most parts of the country there will be at least one sheltered nook where you can get your fishing fix. In the area around my boyhood turf of Hawkes Bay, my go-to stormy spot was Lake Tutira. It was always a safe, and relatively dependable option when the sea was furious and the rivers were off season and/or raging. Fishing from the rocks in bad conditions Finding a calm spot in bad weather is key The question has to be asked-why bother going out in terrible weather? Well, for one thing, it gets you out of the house and blows out the cobwebs. Even if you only get out for a couple of hours, at least you’re out there learning. Also, there is a pretty good chance that the fishing will really turn on, especially if you do a bit of homework. What to look for? Waiheke Island on a particularly stormy afternoon Shelter What you want to find when searching for a stormy rock spot, is an area that gives the fish access to food sources like kina, crab and small fish. A good spot should also provide larger fish with shelter from the worst of the swells. A clear example where I’ve seen this is in Adelaide, South Australia; where a huge pier extends out through the breakers on a big surf beach. Every time a major storm rolled in from the Southern Ocean, the waters below the pier would become packed with cowering baitfish, and the pier above would bristle with a corresponding army of fishermen. Schools of big Australian salmon (aka kahawai) would periodically rip through the balled up bait shoals, and the local fishos above would be rewarded for braving the ghastly weather. The next thing you want to look for are sheltered areas near to places with plenty of marine life that is getting worked over by the weather. On a headland, this might be where a gut cuts in to a cliff. While big swells are pounding the outside faces, the gut itself will be relatively calm. Hooked up in stormy weather Lobbing a pilchard, fly or even a whole dead crab into this type of churned up water can have some very exciting results. The stormy weather often gives fish a false sense of security. Fish tend to be much bolder than in clear conditions, as the cover of the whitewater, combined with the dull sky, will have them feeling safe from overhead attack. winter snapper off the rocks Joel Westcott on the lee side of Kawau Island in rough weather Calm spots Another key sign to look for is a ‘calm’ spot off the coast. Look for areas where floating debris and flotsam have been collecting. This is where currents are converging, then slowing and depositing accumulated debris they have picked up from the shore. Areas like this are a focal point for opportunistic feeders. These spots can be dangerous to get to, so always remember to be safety conscious in all your storm fishing decisions. However, if you can safely get to one of these feed zones, you can really hit the jackpot. snapper caught in a storm In protected pockets like this, the fish are aggressive and hungry It is also worth remembering this kind of spot for times of calmer weather, as the same principles of transportation and deposition will hold broadly true, whatever the strength of the currents. Stream mouths What you want to look for here are small streams that drain mostly from bush rather than farmland. A few of the author's favourite bad weather stream mouths in the Coromandel Farmland tends to equate to heightened erosion and high loads of silt. In this situation, you may find that there is a clear edge where the silt meets the clear seawater, which could well be worth prospecting. What you really want is stream water that is full of worms and bugs, but not too filthy with muck. A bit of a tough ask in such an extensively-farmed country like New Zealand. Many a fishing adventure has been saved by fishing stream mouths. The best example of this being on one occasion while fishing near the Papa Aroha campground. Matt with a 14kg kingfish from the shore A couple of hours braving the driving wind and rain produced a chilly-bin of snapper, kahawai and Matt’s kingfish. This was ample compensation for the discomfort we endured. After a mostly unsuccessful weekend fishing the northern Coromandel rocks, we decided to try some stream mouths on the way home to Auckland. In no time we were catching solid pannie snapper and kahawai, then out of nowhere kingfish started beating up on the sprat hordes around our berley sack. A hasty re-rigging of gear saw a live kahawai bobbing out in the flood. After a torrid battle up and down the beach, our friend Matt had his first decent land-based kingfish from the shore. Keeping warm Lower body Like most fishing, keeping dry is important. This can be hard when fishing in rougher weather, water always finds a way in. Layering up is my preferred method of keeping warm. I like to wear thermal leggings. I wear thick Icebreaker “Apex” 260gm merino leggings, and waterproof trousers over these. There are also great products designed for kayak fishermen readily available. In particular, Sharkskins are a great product that feel like a cross between neoprene and polar fleece. These work well under shorts or waterproof outer layers. One thing to remember when fishing from the rocks is that your clothing will take a hammering, particularly your trousers. At present my waterproofs have an enormous rip in the seat, and are out of commission. I need to get hold of an excellent product called “Stormsure”, which joins and seals these tears. Some very experienced and successful year-round rock fishos wear wetsuits in order to stay warm-with the added benefit of some butt-padding to protect you from the rocks. While I haven’t tried this, I do wear neoprene wading socks made by Simms. You will get wet, layering up is the best method to stay warm Upper body The same rules apply to the upper body. When looking for a raincoat, go for as many well-placed pockets as possible. I have a relatively cheap (about $200) Reddington jacket from Rod and Reel which is so well equipped with pockets that I virtually don’t need to take a pack fishing in the winter. Some raincoats even have waterproof pockets inside for phones, keys, etc. Brimmed thermal hats are hard to come by, but a cap with a brim, covered with a beanie is a good compromise. The purpose of the brim is to protect your polaroid sunglasses from the rain and spray. Bicycle stores also sell thermal ‘skullcaps’ designed to fit under snug helmets. They have ear flaps often very welcome in biting winter winds. Of course, if the weather is really evil, you won’t need your polaroids, but if there are breaks in the weather, you really want to be able to see what is going on in the water. Finally, a thick Buff to protect the neck and face is a great addition to your storm gear. The original Buff product, while expensive, is far superior to the cheaper knock-offs. Westhaven fishing Look for sheltered areas The wash up Whatever you do, if you decide to head out in stormy weather, do your homework. Use resources such as Swellmap and weather sites to gauge just how safe it is going to be. An inflatable life jacket is really a must- no matter where you’re headed. And always tell someone where you’re going, and when you’ll be back. Find a safe, secure spot, and get stuck in! Whatever happens, it’s better being out there than sitting at home with cabin fever.

Related posts

How to catch squid from the rocks
Land-based
How to catch squid New Zealand. Egiing for squid NZ off the rocks. Michael Walkley shows some EGI techniques and tips as we have an epic land based squid session throughout the night.
The Lateral Line - EP #6
Land-based
Milan, Nathan and one of “the boy’s” Toby, are on board Savoy headed to great barrier island and they are going to use the tender on the front of Savoy to go land based fishing at Great Barrier Island.
The Lateral Line: Ep #5
Land-based
Milan and Nathan are again on the rocks after Milan eyed up a piece of coast line on Google Earth. The walk in was a bit tricky, but dinner was acquired.
New rules aim to protect salmon fishery
Land-based
The most significant change ever to the way sea-run salmon are managed in NZ has been proposed, to help rebuild Canterbury’s wild sea-run salmon population. In co-operative decisions, the Central South Island Fish and Game Council (CSIFGC) and North Canterbury Fish and Game Council (NCFGC) have formally resolved that a sea-run salmon "season bag limit" regime should be implemented across both regions. Both Councils have jointly agreed to recommend this new tool, to restore the resilience of wild salmon populations. Fish and Game New Zealand will now seek Government regulations to implement this proposal. The size of the season bag limit will be reviewed annually, based on where the size of the spawning population sits within the range of spawning thresholds.
The Lateral Line - Ep #4
Land-based
Milan and Nathan are back trying to “seal the deal” after Milan’s live bait got eaten by a huge King Fish with no hook in it. The most insane couple of day’s fishing on the rocks are about to unfold, including Great white sharks swimming around at our feet!
The lateral Line - Episode  #3
Land-based
Milan and Nathan, are on the hunt for a giant King Fish. They are fishing spots that they have talked about fishing for 15 years but for what ever reason just haven’t done it.
All Related

See Also

Fish release for July School Holidays
Fresh water
Are you looking for an outdoor activity for your kids these school holidays? Why not try fishing? North Canterbury Fish & Game has released around 200 catchable sized salmon into the Groynes children’s fishing lakes. The salmon have been kindly donated by Mount Cook Alpine Salmon and The Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust.
How to catch squid from the rocks
Land-based
How to catch squid New Zealand. Egiing for squid NZ off the rocks. Michael Walkley shows some EGI techniques and tips as we have an epic land based squid session throughout the night.
Yamaha Helm Master EX
Boats
Yamaha has launched an amazing new digital boat control system that holds you over your fishing spot or sets up a controlled drift, hands free! Applicable to single and multi engine craft, this is a world first and should be very popular if you like holding over pins, deep drops etc.
The Lateral Line - EP #6
Land-based
Milan, Nathan and one of “the boy’s” Toby, are on board Savoy headed to great barrier island and they are going to use the tender on the front of Savoy to go land based fishing at Great Barrier Island.
How to get back on your SOT kayak with Paddle Guy & Dave
Kayak
In this video Dave from Fergs kayaks Wellington NZ shows us a few tips on how to get back into your sit on top kayak in the case of a capsize...NOTE: this video is just a quick reference, it is highly recommended that you take a course to get the full understanding of how to self rescue quickly and safely.
Freediving for Crays, West Coast New Zealand
Spearfishing
A nice video showcasing some awesome freediving from Ritchie Johnston down in the deep south west.
All Posts

Drop NZ Fishing World a line!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.