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Bruce Duncan's HQ Fishing Report | May 2023

Bruce Duncan's HQ Fishing Report | May 2023 | Haines Hunter HQ

Yet again we have had nothing but crappy weather since my last report. 20-35 knots of wind mainly from the east to north east which has been pushing at times a ground swell right up into the inner gulf.

Sneaking out for a cheeky wee fish between the weather fronts, I headed the effects of the ground swell runoff and wind direction made it an exercise of frustration. Rather than both the boat and I getting beaten up again, I challenged myself to target a shallow spot where the boat would lay reasonably well in the conditions.

East Bastion Reef (more commonly called St Heliers Bay Reef), has reasonably good shelter in these conditions (spot 2, area 5) and to a point as the reef structure is a large area of low foul the ground bait and burly spreads across the whole area. Several spots I have in the book I call “the bank”, they don’t hold a huge amount of fish but I will always get a few and I only fish them when I am desperate.

This is stray lining in its purest form, with no sinker or trace simply a hook tied to the end of the line. Yes, I hear you say without trace you get bitten off but for the few times that happens without a trace or sinker you get fewer snags but the bait gets to float around more naturally. Simply the weight of the bait and hook will take it to the bottom, fish are less likely to drop the bait without any resistance from the weight of a sinker.

Keeping lines from tangling is a problem with a boat spinning around on the anchor, as we had three rods in use I set a pattern of baits rather than all casting in the same location. The first bait is cast long and more off the port quarter the second is directly astern but shorter and the third is cast mid-distance. Normally I have the rods down low so I can see any bites or line movement but now is the only time I will put a rod in the rod holder. The reason being the wind holds the line away from the boat.

It never fails to amaze me and makes me wonder why I go past so many good fishing spots when in the two hours I fished the reef I kept 4 Snappers between 38-45 cm released a couple around the 6kg mark, and got completely taken to the weeds by a very big old moocher. Just again for the sake of trying something different, I cast a couple of baits away from the reef onto the sand and was rewarded by one of the biggest Gurnard I have ever caught.

Every fishing trip that is going to be challenging is also going to give you more knowledge and experience, it’s not all about how many or the size of the fish you catch but it feels bloody great when you are desperate for a fishing fix to come home with a feed of fish.

Spending a week up at Omaha with a mad keen Aussie fisherman the wind was a constant 25-35 knots from the north and not going to drop off before he had to head back across the Tasman. Not one to put my life in danger or more importantly my Haines Hunter there was no way we could fish outside the estuary and even then it was only possible on the incoming tide as the boat would lay straight up the channel. Before you all say that I am a mad bugger if anything did go wrong remember I was anchored in 1.5 meters and could have hopped out of the boat and walked home.

On the slack water, we used floaters (unweighted baits) but as the current increased we had to add ¼ oz sinkers. Chopped-up ground bait is taken quickly and a long way back from the boat and within an hour the fish we had been catching went from 25 to 35 cm. By the time we pulled the pin after two hours the effect of the ground bait trail had every bait getting hit within minutes of being cast, by now the snapper were all up around the 35-42 cm range plus we had a couple of bust-offs.

I think I said in my last report that I had a gut feeling that there will be some good weather windows over this winter and I still think it's going to happen but in the meantime, if you are desperate for a fishing fix play safe and remember that it's all about spending time on the water.