The harbour is fishing at its best right now, especially for snapper. Gurnard catches are on the up and the fish are in great condition. I’ve seen a lot of 50cm plus snapper caught from the harbour and I know of a nice 15lb fish last week that was caught in the Papakura Channel. I’ve heard of gurnard up to 1.4kg which are close to 50cm long, some of which have been caught off the harbour beaches.
I’m often asked what rigs work best in the harbour but there is no one setup that works for all situations.
In shallow water, say 5m or less when fishing for gurnard, I’ll use a dropper rig fished directly below the boat, typically using small baits on 4/0 recurves.
I’ll also cast out a lightly weighted bait directly behind the boat. That will simply be the lightest sinker that will keep things on the bottom with the sinker sitting on top of the hook. I’ll usually put a soft fluorocarbon bead between the sinker and hook.
If there are no big snapper around I often only use a 20lb trace. As long as there is a good current flow we also use what is often referred to as a running rig. That’s a sinker on your main line down on to a swivel, with a 1 or 2m trace.
The same rigs apply for snapper but I’ll use a minimum of 60lb trace and 8/0 hooks.
Stray lining is very effective in low current areas and we will sometimes fish that rig in 20 plus metres as the current flow eases around the top and bottom of the tides.
The rods and reels we use in the harbour tend to be soft-bait type gear and usually filled with braid.
Bait runner type reels work well for stray lining and small overhead reels are great for fishing dropper rigs. A good quality reel these days has a lot of stopping power and light gear with braid is more enjoyable to use as it has much more feel and catches less water than mono, allowing the use of lighter sinkers.
When we venture over the coast, we will use stray lines in water up to around 20m deep but generally in that depth or deeper it’s dropper rigs all the way. Unless of course I’m using jigs or soft-baits. I prefer to use light gear such as we do in the harbour and 6 or 10lb braid with a 60lb trace when bait fishing. 20lb trace does the trick for lures, which can be as small as 60g and you can still feel them reach the bottom in 60m.
The downside is the mayhem you will get when an overly energetic kahawai or shark takes your line so it doesn’t work to well with more than two anglers. Most west coast fishermen tend to use overhead reels such as TLD15’s loaded with 15 kg mono for that very reason.
Not me though, I’m a slow learner! A bit of a compromise works best though, 20lb braid on a small powerful overhead reel on an appropriate rod is to my mind the best option.
Meanwhile, I’m preparing for the Franklin Hunting & Fishing Grunter Hunter, a gurnard only fishing competition open to everyone.
It’s based at Te Toro and tickets are available from the big H&F store in Pukekohe or on-line HERE
We are also holding an in shop ‘How To’ on Saturday May 21st for anyone who wishes to call in for a chat and maybe learn a few gurnard secrets.
Good luck out there and stay safe.
This Manukau / Auckland west coast report is supplied by Michael "Smudge" Parker and supports the Counties Sportfishing Club