Winter fishing, why do we do it? It’s always cold, often raining and usually a combination of the two. It can also be quite productive. My son Arron and I spent last weekend fishing the CSFC.co.nz Ice Breaker competition. We targeted snapper & gurnard in the Manukau harbour.
This is one of those comps that really appeals to me. You can fish anywhere in NZ for gurnard, snapper, reef fish (bass, hapuku & bluenose) kingfish, kahawai, tuna, broadbill and crayfish (you have to dive for them).
Now this report is for the Manukau & Auckland’s west coast, surely most of that stuff is going to be caught in far away places.
Well yeah it was, but the 3rd placed snapper was only a little over 5kg, which on a good winter’s day isn’t impossible in the harbour. Just not this year.
A couple of limiting factors for our neck of the woods was the weather conditions at the time and those massive sharks that were hanging around in the harbour. Unfortunately the west coast was out of the question – I live maybe 10km from the coast and man, it was roaring!
I could hear it loud and clear from my house and my hearing isn’t the best.
It’s no surprise the biggest gurnard came from the harbour we managed a 2nd place. After all, we caught around 40 gurnard (more like 37 Smudge) in two days, bringing home 22 of those tasty fish.
Full credit to 4 Play that won that section with a 1.10kg fish. They also managed a 3rd placed gurnard.
We fish a patch of foul in the Papakura channel right up until August and get some great snapper. Last weekend we caught two. One undersized and the other maybe 1.4kg. The big baits that work so well there got snaffled by sharks.
Big unstoppable bronzies. Dang! That’s fishing though and if it was easy we would get bored with it. Well I would at least, it’s the challenge that works for me.
Here are a couple of things I’ve learned over the years: putting burley out of the back of your boat – especially if it’s on the surface, will bring kahawai of all sizes in from everywhere. Hundreds of the little buggers.
When targeting snapper and gurnard then it’s best you get that stuff down on the bottom, preferably get it down there on slack water. Even throwing scraps of bait over the side will bring them in, which is great if that’s what you want to catch.
Keep your burley at least a metre off your anchor warp or eventually you will find your boat drifting away after a big bitey takes a liking to your burley and chomps through you anchor warp.
While that hasn’t happened to me I’m certainly aware of it happening to others.
The west coast often fishes well over winter for snapper as long as you can avoid spiney dogfish. Best to avoid burley rather than tempt them.
Snapper can be found in all depths and at this time of year the torpedo fishermen can catch some big fish.
So no need to put your fishing gear away, when the weather allows it’s still great to be out on the water.
Take care, Smudge.
This Manukau / Auckland west coast report is supplied by Michael "Smudge" Parker and supports the Counties Sportfishing Club