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HQ Fishing Report with Captain Swish | March 2024

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

As a result of the weather getting colder the fishing is changing, like Snapper in the way and when they eat is similar to us. We are not barbequing outdoors as much changing to eating more comfort food such as stews and roasts.

Right now Snapper are feeding up on Shellfish worms and crabs to put on body fat preparing for the cold winter months when they are lethargic and not moving about, so tending to eat less. Within a few months, there will be way fewer fish out on your normal summer spots. Either they will move out into deeper water or be lurking around kelp-covered reef structures and shorelines. Here they will just snack on limpet’s crab snails and they like it just, when they have an urge to eat.

Over the last few weeks, I have seen a lot of changes which are normal but this year it’s a month or so earlier than usual. MotheNature tells me it looks like we may be in for a long, cold winter.

The first major change is, that I am finding for every decent fish over 34 cm you catch ten undersize fish. The good news is that these small fish are fat nice in colour and in good condition and by next summer will be well over 30cm, I have a minimum size limit on the boat of 34 cm.

The last three times out it is kind of weird that the best fishing is on the last one and a half hours just before the tide change then they switch off feeding.

With these changes, I have had to make changes which have resulted increase in hooking bigger fish, going down to the 6kg line lessens the amount of drag in the water allowing you to see and feel the bait being taken. Fresh bait such as strip baits of mullet and kahawai hang on the hook, small fish will rip at it which attracts the bigger fish to come in and grab it. With this said much against how I normally fish I have one rod rigged with a recurve hook and just let these bigger fish fight over the bait and hook themselves. Burly and ground bait is well worth the investment as it will bring the fish towards the boat and stimulate a more aggressive bite.

Out on the worm beds, the Snapper are fairly well spread, anchoring with a burly trail and chopped-up ground bait will in time bring them around but it is taking a lot longer to catch a decent feed. Drop a flasher rig and catch a few small Kahawai and Jack Macs, rigged as whole a butterflied baits they really hang on the hook and always catch the bigger fish.

Administration Bay presently has schools of Anchovies getting worked over by the Kahawai. There are dramatic changes to the normal Anchovie run. The Anchovy schools are smaller than in the past few years as are the Kahawai. I have yet to see a single Kingfish. Snapper are spread right across the bay, and 3-inch pumpkin seed soft baits are working as are micro jigs. Try the low foul in (area 3 spot 17).

The inner harbour has fewer fish than normal but again if it’s a quick trip out I would be targeting spots off Cheltenham and the small reef structure north towards Takapuna, (area 1 spots 18 and 19). Along the southern side of Rangitoto, I have had the wind and tide right to target (spots 5 and 20) with some of the best fish up to 47 cm on (spot 20), not an easy spot to fish and you may have to re-anchor a couple of times to get it right but its well worth the trouble.

(Area 4) the Western side of Motutapu, I have fished (spot 6) and did okay, until the wind changed making it hard to focus on the baits. For no better reason and not having time to stop for a fish, I shot out for a quick look around (area 5). There was a good sign around Zeno Rock and the drop-off to the South (spot 6). I don’t see many boats fishing the Haystack (spot 16) but either close to the rock or on the edges of the contour lines close by often hold plenty of fish hence well worth a look on the way out to the Noises. Strayling back into the rocks on (spots 9 and 10) have seen some very nice fish landed all caught on big fresh baits.

In (area 6) the northern side of Waiheke my mates fishing the close in have all faired pretty well and the good news is a few Kingfish are lurking about. Try (spots 21 and 24, spot 19) is a real pain to target but get the wind and tide right it is where you will not only have a shot at some bigger Snapper but also Kingfish.

Around the bottom end of Waiheke, the Snapper are more out in slightly deeper water where the are sandy rocky rises, try (spots 21 and 22) but if all fails head into (spot 16 or 17) as I have never failed to catch a feed.