The weather hasn’t been kind enough to tempt me out fishing lately but to make up for that I’m going somewhere this weekend that everyone should try to fish at some stage of their life, the Ranfurly Banks. While that has nothing to do with fishing the Manukau harbour and surrounds at least I’ll be looking forward to some more leisurely snapper and gurnard fishing when I get back after putting up with those big arm stretching fish down East Cape way!
By the time the west coast flattens out and conditions allow us to get out there, snapper will be congregating out deep and there will be some big fish amongst them. Dropping big baits out at 60m on a two hook dropper rig and some heavy gear (by snapper fishing standards) will soon fill your chilly bin.
Limit catches in an hour or less are quite possible on a good day.
I prefer to use lighter gear and single hook rigs if bait fishing but in springtime especially, jigs and softbaits work a treat and are so much more fun. While it takes more time for your lures to hit the bottom and even longer to bring in a good fish there is something you should consider: what’s the rush?
I’d rather take my time and spend a little more my day out on the water. I can get a 60g jig down in 60m quite easily on 10lb braid and still feel every touch. A heavier jig will get you there quicker of course and just maybe that will equate to fewer kahawai & barracouta grabbing your lure.
You’re less likely to get sharks on lures too but that’s not always the case. When snapper fishing I’ve found that a lure cast out behind the boat and just left there with the rod in the holder will often pick up a gurnard or two while the snapper fight it out for the more active baits or lures. Light leaders help to present lures and don’t hinder their action so there’s no need to go heavier than 20lb as the fish are very unlikely to swallow your lure and bite you off.
Of course you can fish in closer and you will catch some good fish for sure but for me nothing beats those big mean springtime snapper out in the deeper water. You will seldom come home disappointed at this time of the year.
The harbour will be swarming with small snapper and they can be a real nuisance, but perseverance can pay off once you find a place where they aren’t so prolific and generally the harbour is far more accessible than the coast. Gurnard, trevally and kahawai are typically plentiful at this time of year while kingfish will most likely show up once the water warms a little. Having said that, local fishing legend Lemmy Shadgett caught a nice kingfish in the harbour in August this year, something I’ve not heard of before but then I don’t target those fish over winter.
The coastal beaches have been fishing well for snapper and gurnard and you’re best targeting those areas when the swell is down.
Experienced long liners will leave a considerable distance between themselves and other fisherman, but there’s always that one guy that will try to sneak in between them. Don’t be that guy.
Fishermen on our beaches should always be mindful of other beach users and I’ve known fishermen to put their torpedoes etc out right beside the swimmers in the flagged area at Karioitahi. With the rips running up and down that beach their lines often end up right in the swimming zone. Of course I don’t need to mention the need to take your rubbish away with you do I?
While the nice calm sunny days are always tempting remember that spring weather can be unpredictable so be very sure of the forecast before you set off on a day’s fishing.
Take care, Smudge
This Manukau / Auckland west coast report is supplied by Michael "Smudge" Parker and supports the Counties Sportfishing Club