As a part of Countries Sport Fishing Club, I get to help organise some of our fishing competitions. Mostly I’m involved in the Grunter Hunter – a gurnard only comp that regularly attracts 300 or more anglers all hoping to get some of the prizemoney on offer.
This year The Franklin Hunting & Fishing Grunter Hunter had 324 entries and was held on June 11th. With help from Franklin Hunting & Fishing and Shimano NZ we were able to offer some great prizes all the way up to the First Prize of $3,000.00
Despite my reputation as being a bit of a gurnard catcher I have never won it despite catching some beauties both before and after the event most years. I think that in the 12 years that this event has been running I have managed a 5th place and that’s about it.
It took me a while to realise why that was.
I usually have some sort of plan before a fishing comp but in the Grunter Hunter I was just trying too hard. This year I was determined to do better so we went back to basics. It paid off too, as I managed 2nd place!
So the basics that I refer to above are pretty simple.
Fish the shallows right where the water starts to flood up onto the mudflats at low tide, get there a couple of hours early to give you time to find another spot if things such as sea conditions, too many sharks etc make your first choice a little challenging.
I usually stick to only two rigs, a two hook dropper rig and a single hook strayline rig, both fished on light tackle. And that is how we fished. In 2.5m armed with a spin set loaded with 10lb braid and 20lb leader – way heavier than is needed but light enough to do the job well - tough enough to handle even a large snapper if it turns up - & a strayline set spooled with 2lb mono and a 20lb leader with a half ounce sinker straight onto the hook.
On both rigs I used 3/0 circle hooks and mostly fished them with small pieces of skipjack tuna for bait.
There is a good reason for using such light mainline and that is to allow the use of as little weight as possible to reach the sea bed and keep your bait there. I did screw up on one fish when I absent mindedly adjusted the drag, forgetting for a moment that I was using 2 kilo mainline.
That was the only fish I lost that day. We caught most of our fish in that spot but as the tide started to run and the fish went off the bite we moved to deeper water, right on the transition where the channel just started to rise.
This time we were in 5m deep and had only moved a couple of hundred metres or so. We had a run of bigger fish there from around 42cm up to my 2nd place fish that was really fat and measured at 47cm.
The wind started to pick up and we had to get back to Te Toro to set up for the event. All up we had caught 22 gurnard maybe ten kahawai and one spotted dogfish. A pretty good day.
If you want to increase your gurnard catch then I suggest you try tactics such as I have outlined above. There is one thing I didn’t mention and that is the use of burley. Burley is great if there are no kahawai around as it will draw gurnard in.
To test it out, throw some chopped up chunks of fish in the water, If kahawai turn up within a minute or so, don’t use burley because the fast moving kahawai will beat gurnard to your hooks almost every time.
Don’t let the fact that it’s winter put you off, when you get a good day you will find that gurnard are at their best in the harbour at this time.
Take care, Smudge.
GRUNTER HUNTER 2023 RESULTS
1st Jayden Millen 1.3kg
2nd Michael Parker 1.23kg
3rd Shane Wharerau 1.21kg
4th Kevin Anstiss 1.175kg
5th Brock Johnston 1.159kg Under 16
6th Finn MacDonald 1.145kg
7th Tony Takarua 1.125kg
8th Brock McPike 1.12KG Under 16
9th Daniel Louis 1.12kg
10th Kaelab Allison 1.105 Under 16
Average weight: Issac Cook 0.76kgs Under 16
Take care, Smudge
This Manukau / Auckland west coast report is supplied by Michael "Smudge" Parker and supports the Counties Sportfishing Club