The seemingly never-ending winter has set its grip in, but there's still some great fishing to be had, with some massive snapper and winter kings in close, and tasty hapuka starting to show up out wide.
In close around most of the reef systems the big winter-conditioned snapper have been favouring live baits, particularly around the Black Rocks.
The beauty of fishing livies in around the reefs means bycatch of kingfish and john dory, both welcome in their different ways.
The incoming tide seems to be the trick for turning up some trophy fish, with several over that magic ten kg mark for us recently.
Artificial baits fished a little more slowly and in bigger sizes are also doing the trick. The inner islands and the coastlines around Roberton Island are a great spot to throw some softbaits, especially along the eastern side.
For me, this time of year is a great time to get a nice berley trail going, with the intention to be patient and draw the fish off the reefs they are hanging around for food and shelter, and bring them closer to the boat away from line-cutting foul grounds.
Don't be afraid to fish super shallow, like less than five metres, and you might be surprised at how aggressive some of the surface bites from big fish. Yes, snapper are big time surface predators in the right conditions. The other benefit of fishing right in shallow, is that the winter winds are often cutting up the fun out wider, where it’s nice and sheltered in the lee of a good bit of land.
On the kingfish front, we have just finished trumps in the yellowtail comp with the winning fish, nudging twenty-nine kg, an awesome effort on six kg line.
There’s a good number of shy fish hanging around the bait schools, so lighter line for kingfish is often the answer if they are fussy.
People often wonder how such a brute fish can be managed on light line. The trick is to use a light gauge circle hook and trust the barb will hold, and actually let the line go almost totally slack if the king is headed for the rocks as their first defence usually is.
Often the fish will think it’s free and actually swim out to deeper water. There, once free of the snags, you can get some pressure on and work it out even deeper, and finally to the boat. Winter sees less sharks around, and this method is pretty much a waste of time when the teams of bronzies are patrolling in warmer months, so make the most of the cold now!
The bait schools seem to pretty much all have good numbers of kingfish on them, so find the bait and you can almost certainly get a good shot at a kingfish.
Meanwhile, out wide, we have been doing well on the deep drops, and some of the other charter boats are also getting amongst some top puka and bass fishing.
There are a lot of gemfish around at the moment, so trying to get the prime species has sometimes been hard, but as usual with deepwater fishing, perseverance has been paying off.
Prospecting anywhere from 150 metres to 300 metres has been good if you can identify even the slightest structure or sign on the trusty sounder.
On a final note, there is now a controlled area and Rahui in place to stop the spread of the invasive sea weed Caulerpa, so there are no anchored fishing or diving permitted in specified areas.
Full details of the restrictions and area maps see HERE:
This report provided by Darren Knapping, Days Out Fishing Charters
DAYS OUT FISHING CHARTERS