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HQ Fishing Report with Captain Swish | December 2023

HQ Fishing Report with Captain Swish | December 2023 | Haines Hunter HQ

Yet again the equinox winds over the last few weeks have made planning a trip out on the water a bit of a gamble. As I always say even if you can just a few hours on the water it's worth the effort as there is always something to see or learn. Recently I have had seal pups swim past big snapper thinking they were kingfish almost being hand-fed at the stern of the boat and I always get a buzz watching dolphins and orcas playing close by.

This year is somewhat different from last in that by far the majority of the snapper coming in to spawn are on the eastern side of the gulf as last year they came down close to Kawau. The number of workups between Little Barrier Kawau then east to the Coromandel have increased with a lot bigger snapper feeding below, a lot have snapper have now spawned so they are getting aggressive on the bite as they build up condition. The stand-out soft baits have been the smaller brown/ yellow and silver/ blue.

East of the cable zone just south of Tiri is well worth checking out and seems to be fishing best on an incoming tide, even if there are not a lot of fish showing I have found that it takes around half an hour for the ground bait take effect to get the first bite while waiting try catching fresh bait as I can assure you a big butter flown bait will always get a better hook up rate but also the bigger fish.

The inner gulf has now been declared safe to fish so I would be looking at targeting (Area 1 spot 10) on the incoming tide, once spawned snapper comes on into the channel and then moves up onto the flats to feed. From Rangitoto light east to Billy Goat Point there are not a lot of fish out on the sand but you will find the snapper closer into wards the shore line, these fish are feeding around the foul but do move out onto the sand close by more often than not as the tide is going slack.

Out around the Noises area, there are a lot more kahawai and are well worth targeting a few for fresh bait plus they make nice sashimi if you bleed and ice them down the moment you get them on board. More fish are being caught closer to the rocks and foul rather than out on the sand but again on the slack water when the bite goes off use the time to have a wee look as often from one tide to the next a lot can change.

The bottom end of Waiheke is such a beautiful place to fish as it's so scenic and right now the fishing is hot, one stand out spot is to the south of Hooks Bay, area 6 spot 12 and this is a place where big fresh strip baits of kahwai will get results.

Out from Omaha, I have still been doing ok on the sand in 12-14 meters off the main beach. Having a few fish on board for a feed I thought I would try something different to prove my theory of how when and where snapper feed on open sand. In these depths the footprint i.e. the actual size of the area of bottom you are seeing is not that big, watching the sounder I looked over an acre of bottom without seeing a single fish. With a couple of baits rigged, one as a floater (no sinker) and the other with just a small ¼ oz sinker I tossed them well away from the boat. Opening up a cold frosty lemonade I thought I would have a peaceful relax for at least half to one hour before there would be any action.

In less than fifteen minutes I had the first hit landing a snapper around the 45 cm mark, long story short I landed some 5 or 6 good fish mostly released and all bar one were caught on the line with no sinker. When snapper are just mooching in the sand with no burly or ground bait to stimulate them anything out of the usual makes them cautious, no sinker no line resistance hence they are less likely to be spooked.

The weather for this weekend is looking ok at this stage so be prepared to hit the water.

A great little tip for keeping your catch fresh this summer is to "kill and chill". Frozen water bottles is a quick
effective way to chill them before you put them on ice.

My pick would be:

Area 1 spots 9 and 10
Area 2 spots 3 and 14
Area 3 spots 14 and 18
Area 4 spots 12 and 14
Area 5 spots 6 (also look at the drop off out from the rock) and 11
Area 6 spots 14,15 and 16
Area 7 spots 8, 17, and 23

These spots and many more, can be found in my book. Contact HQ to order yours before Christmas!