Winter is such a good time to fish in the Coromandel, with light boat traffic, and some awesome mild days mixed in with the wild ones. The conditions change where the fish are holding, and the days are shorter, in fact right now the shortest of the year, which means a good session can be had without getting up too early or staying out too late to enjoy the benefits of change of light fishing.
Just in the last couple of weeks the water temp has really dropped significantly, and that has triggered a definite slow down in snapper being caught off the sand.
They are really tucked in around the reefs and foul now, and school fish have pushed out deeper so can be very patchy and difficult to find, but some slow prospecting with the sounder can often pick them up if you are patient enough to do some work watching the screen.
In around the reef systems there are some really good resident fish with the classic kelpy colouring that are in perfect eating condition now, fat and healthy. Always try and limit your catch to a feed of these fish as they are a vital part of the future fish stocks, even though there are plenty of them on the bite when it fires up.
Winter bites are notoriously short as fish try and conserve energy, so it’s often crucial to watch the bite times and have the current moving.
Last week I fished with soft baits, and for half an hour every cast got smashed by a big fish, the smallest going 50cm and a couple of 70cm fish returned. Keeping 3 was enough for a couple of good family feeds and some awesome action on light gear. However, as hot as the bite was, the moment the current slowed down it was over like a light switch turned off. All this in just 15 to 20 metres of water off one of the popular local reefs.
This is pretty much the case across the region, with some very good snapper fishing off deeper reef systems from the Mercs to right down the east coast.
Winter metabolisms are slow, and often it takes a bit of berley to get their noses up. I personally stick with just lures, and when it’s on it’s on, but bait and berley sometimes will be a necessity if they are playing hard to move.
Kingfish are still on strong around the shallower pins south of Mercury Bay, and there’s also plenty of action dropping livies off the Alderman pins if you are happy to lose a few to sharks.
It’s peak deep drop season now, so bluenose and puka will be prime target species for anglers that have their secret spots out wide. For those that don’t, searching contour lines with the sounder out past 150 - 250 metres will require some patience and persistence.
Right now, an easier feed on the gas bill, and sometimes a great option when the weather prevents even getting out of the harbour, is picking up a nice feed of calamari.
It’s peak squid jigging season, and a lot of the reefs where the sand meets the weed in very sheltered areas will be holding a lot of squid. They are pretty easy to catch even during the day, and there’s nothing like fresh squid for the pan.
Squid like the shelter of weed, and don’t like any current movement, so probing around inshore can be very pleasant and really productive when you already have a few snapper or other fish in the bin.
It’s also very likely that you’ll pick up a good-sized trevally this time of year, in the same areas you are jigging for squid, so every now and then mix it up with a small soft bait or micro-jig, and the rewards can be well worth the effort.