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HQ Fishing Report with Captain Swish | June 2024

HQ Fishing Report with Captain Swish | June 2024 | Haines Hunter HQ

Winter is well and truly here with cold, wet and windy conditions over the next few months. Fortunately for us, there may also be weather windows that can result in a few days of flat calm wind-less days.

No two years are the same and this year is no exception. Different to past years where by now the majority of snapper have either moved out deep or right up into the shallow water, if you know where to target the snapper there are plenty to be caught.

By now, snapper should be harder to catch having built up fat reserves to carry them over winter so they tend to eat less yet, this is not the case.

With fewer fish moving out into deeper water jigging and soft baiting out wide has been hit and miss, Rakino Motuihe and Rangitoto channels have a few snapper lurking on the edges and drop offs but in shallower water on the sand and muddy bottom, snapper are spread out grazing on crabs worm and shellfish. Out on the worm beds, you will still find reasonably good signs but the snapper are spread out grazing just as cattle do in a paddock. Make a game plan to fish the area over the whole tide, the fishing will be slow but in time the burly and ground bait will cover a wide area drawing the fish back to the boat. It often takes up to an hour for the first bite so don’t get tempted to move, focus on catching fresh bait and stick it out.

Targeting areas such as the northern side of Rangitoto and Omaha Bay where your chart shows low reef structure running out from the shore the bottom has isolated rocks surrounded by mud and sand. Normally at this time of the year, I would be casting baits up into the rocks and kelp areas whereas now the big resident snapper tend to move out from the rocks and graze on the worms crabs and shellfish. Never before have I caught and released so many big snapper up to 23 pounds and been blown away by some huge snapper close to thirty pounds.

I look at the sounder for isolated or low foul out from the shore generally in 12-15 meters. The key is to have both the wind and tide running in the same direction so the stern of the boat is facing the structure and the anchors up current. Bear in mind what the snapper are feeding on so the size of your bait counts, largely feeding on the sand they are initially not competitive and aggressive on the bite.

Smaller half baits get picked and chewed (these are the smaller bites and taps on the line) leaving you with just the head or backbone. Don’t be fooled and give up as it's just the way they feed and are not small fish. Fresh bait is best. Pilchards you get one shot at a hook-up, jack macs piper or strip baits of Kahawai all hold on the hook longer.

With the way the snapper is just chewing the bait, I have increased my hook-up rate immensely by running a keeper hook. I rig a 7 or 8/0 as the main hook with a 6/0 above it, the smallest sinker (1/4 oz) is all you need or better still is when the current is slow. Cast the bait as far from the boat as you can, once the bait hits the water do not let any more line out, now the bait and the sinker will get to the bottom without any belly line the line so you can now see and feel even the smallest of bites.

With small baits rigged with a keeper hook you know when you get a bite the hook is in the fish’s mouth, it is critical to strike directly up and wind at the same time, do not drop the rod tip and strike again. Striking once will set the hook and take in any slack line, holding the rod tip high and always keeping it bent as you wind down to prevent the fish from throwing the hook.

Remember no fish is worth risking your life so if in doubt don’t go out but if all is good get out on the water as I have to say this winter so far is producing some of the best fishing in years and I am stunned at the number of trophy size snapper I have hooked and released.

If you don’t have my book Hauraki Gulf Fishing Hot Spots call into Haines HQ for a copy, each spot I mention below has a screenshot of the bottom plus the exact place is sown on the chart plotter.

Areas I will be targeting in the next month are:

Area 1, spots 3, 7 and 10
Area 2, spots 4,5 and 20
Area 3, spots 6, 13 and 17
Area 4, spots 6, 12 and 17
Area 5, spots 6. 9 and 17
Area 6, spots 2, 12, and 21
Area 7 spots 14, 16 and 17