It has certainly been an unusual year. Like everyone else I would have expected a whole lot more settled weather over autumn, and now that winter is finally here, I would have expected to have seen a whole lot more cooler weather.
I often hear people saying that gurnard won’t be in the harbour until after the first frost.
Well, we haven’t been anywhere near a frost yet but there were a couple of colder days back in early May. I’ve never really been one to subscribe to the ‘frost theory’ and this is why:
My belief is that gurnard come into the harbour in bigger numbers as the water cools for sure. The water temperature in the harbour can be very high in summer time – especially in the shallows where gurnard don’t do so well because of the warm water and tend to be skinny.
Their mates out off the coast fare much better over summer and stay in good condition with the deeper water providing a much more comfortable environment for them. The water temperature we see on our boats’ electronics are only a measurement of the surface temp.
Down on the bottom where gurnard mooch around things are much cooler.
Fish like to feed up as they go into spawning mode and the best place to do that is in the harbour where their favourite foods are mud crabs, glass shrimps and small fish, especially juvenile flounder, all of which are abundant on the tidal flats.
The time I think they prefer to move onto those tidal flats is on the start of the incoming tide. The time they like to leave the flats is the start of the outgoing tide. That’s why I target gutters that go up onto the flats at those times. I’ve found the channel edges where they just start to rise up are better in between times.
Gurnard spawn from winter through to spring, probably twice a year. That’s why they are easy to catch right now, they are going hard out to put on condition, just like snapper do in springtime. Once spawned of course they stay feeding up to put condition on after spawning to see them through the long hot summer when unlike snapper they slow down and burn less energy.
Despite the lack of frosts, gurnard are putting on a good show in the harbour now and they are in great condition. Just in time for a couple of local comps.
The Waiuku Cossie club has a trevally and gurnard comp on June 4th and myself and a few other keen grunter hunters from Counties Sport Fishing Club inc have our Grunter Hunter comp on June 11th.
Well worth a crack with prizes like $3000 for first place, and $500 for average weight.
Tickets are available online at the Counties Sports Fishing Club. Or from Franklin Hunting & Fishing in Pukekohe.
There are no ticket sales on the day!
We will also be hanging out at Franklin Hunting & Fishing on Saturday June 3rdfrom 9.00am so if you read this in time pop in for a chat & we will be happy to give advice and share a spot or two.
Check out some of my best hints and tips for targeting gurnard.
You will still find snapper in the harbour and most of the biggest fish we catch are in June & July, not as easy to find as gurnard but they are certainly there. Trevally & kahawai are never too far away either.
Out over the coast, snapper and gurnard are plentiful, I wouldn’t be going out too deep just yet and would fish from in as close as I could comfortably do out to around 30m. You may find spiny dog fish and kahawai challenging so I’d not be putting any burley out!
There’s plenty of good fishing to be had so don’t put the fishing gear away just yet.
I know my reports centre around boat fishing and that’s because I’m not a particularly good surfcaster, but I’m sure if I put some time into it I’d pick up a few ideas.
I do know that fish can be caught of the beach at this time of year. Gurnard, trevally, kahawai and possibly snapper are all realistic targets.
Take care, Smudge.
Take care, Smudge
This Manukau / Auckland west coast report is supplied by Michael "Smudge" Parker and supports the Counties Sportfishing Club