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Manukau 23 January

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Most of the west coast reports we hear – mine included – have glowing reports of great catches of mega snapper. I don’t make that stuff up. I’m either speaking from experience or I’m passing on the info that I’m hearing from sources I can trust. It truly is a great fishery and sometimes when we have a less than spectacular catch we feel kind of cheated. We shouldn’t of course. We should be grateful for every opportunity we get to experience one of life’s great pleasures: fishing with friends and going home with an almost certain catch of top table fish. So as one of those who extol the virtues of one of the country’s greatest snapper fisheries do I feel guilty about those who have a bad day out there such as when 3 fishermen got into trouble a week or two ago when one of them perished? Well yes. I do feel a little guilty. I try to balance those guilty feelings by thinking about the times I’ve mentioned the dangers of crossing the notorious Manukau bar. Or the even trickier Waikato River bar. I’ve had friends get into difficulties on both of those bar crossings. I’m certainly not the greatest skipper in the world but I do exercise caution about when we cross or not. We’ve turned back a few times when others have gone ahead. I don’t regret that one bit.

I don’t know the circumstances of the most recent tragedy and I’m not going to comment other than to say this; get some trustworthy local advice and do a coastguard bar crossing training day before you even consider heading out there.

While conditions may be perfect when you head out, that will most likely change once the tide turns, the wind picks up or changes direction or the swell increases. Understanding the dynamics of a bar crossing is absolutely essential. Here’s the clincher though – every bar is different. There is no one thing that you can take as gospel. If you do nothing else please lodge a trip report with Coastguard. Always.

Anyway, the coast is fishing well. Sea surface temps are nudging 20 degrees at 60m and tuna are there. Marlin will no doubt be there too.

With no real structure to speak of out west, snapper are where you find them schooling about.

One easy way to find them is to anchor up and wait for the fish to find you. Keep moving and you will most likely have a slow day. While we have been fishing at 60m there have been great catches form 10m out.

You may also find gurnard, trevally, kingfish and kahawai turning up in your catch. Gurnard are in prime condition and our biggest recently was well over one kilo.  

Unfortunately, there are some freight train sized tope out there too and they can be challenging on light gear. There are also some rather large mackerel around.  

They look like Jack mackerel but are longer and more slender. I believe they are Chilean mackerel but I may be wrong there! Great baits and very good sashimi.

The harbour is also providing. The Papakura channel is the place to be for snapper. Trevally to 3kg are also turning up and those fish can be a real handful!  There are some mega sized kingfish around too. Local young angler Mitchell Hilton recently landed a 25kilo monster while fishing from a 12ft tinny. An epic fish!

Take care out there and don’t forget your trip report.

Good luck out there and stay safe.

Smudge.

This Manukau / Auckland west coast report is supplied by Michael "Smudge" Parker and supports the Counties Sportfishing Club​

For more information on the Counties Sportfishing Club visit its website here.

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