Chinese New Year and inshore fishing

February 12, 2016 by Damian Clayton

Trip Info

The Catch
Snapper (Pink)

We have been getting a bit of a battering from the onshore winds and now heavy rainfall from the effects of 2 tropical depressions well north of the country. This has meant some time tied to the wharf and each of the trips we have done during the weather windows have been inshore trips. Typically we don’t normally fish in close but it’s kind of refreshing to go back to old stomping grounds where we cut our teeth and learnt to fish as kids. Interestingly enough, the same old grounds are still fishing as they did back in the day although the size and numbers are down as in much of the fishery.

There are quite a few things to consider when fishing inshore.
Time of the day is one of them as in shallower water with only small current the bright midday period can mean slower fishing.
Tide times and rates are another thing to consider. Some of our old haunts were and still are quite tide dependent where they may only fish well at certain times of the tide eg: end of the outgoing or top of the tide at another spot.
Depth is a pretty key element of these inshore trips and as we have a larger boat than we used to fish from as kids we are very aware of its shadow, noise and general presence in these spots.
Bait and matching the hatch is key too. We are pretty lucky in the Gulf that the fish generally feed on much the same diet most of the year. Bait fish, shellfish, squid, crabs and crays. Obviously its not common to use crayfish as bait but snapper love to eat the baby ones and a big snapper has no trouble knocking over a big one either.
Colours of soft baits and lures often need to be experimented with too when fishing inshore. We are always changing rubbers and jigs until we hit the magic colour or style of jig. The small Sliders and Jitterbugs work pretty well when drift fishing the sand banks and edges of the reefs inshore and dragging a lightly weighted soft bait along the bottom works a treat to around shellfish beds. Over reefs these will often get smashed in mid-water so staying in touch is critical.

We have been fishing the shallows around Kawau Island during the last week for 3 reasons.
The area holds fish, it provides good shelter and there is good current running through channels and over and around reefs. A quick look at the chart will provide you with a few clues as to how the place can work so well. Look for tidal arrows, changes in contours, shoals and reef systems. There are good shellfish beds along the coast and the scallops are well known to be on the shoals. Good prime eating for the inshore snapper.
The kingfish also like these conditions and make for easy hunting of their prey. John dory and trevally can be common too as the inshore areas around Kawau are not prone to much commercial pressure at all.

The kingfish are on just any of the reefs with current flowing past and we have been having success using a single hook dropper rigs set on the bottom. The bait we prefer is a jack mackerel and is rigged with a circle hook (for easy release of a small fish) about 1m off the bottom. we do get them on surface set live baits and top water gear but we finds we get the bigger fish on a weighted live bait. It is also easier for a new angler to stay in touch with the bait and “feel” what’s going on. There is plenty of bait in the area to catch. Drop you sabikis in just about any bay to load up on livies.
Jigs don’t seem to work that well in close unless you are over some deeper reef or in a deeper channel on the drift.

Fishing Direct in Silverdale stock NZ pilchards and it’s hard to go past these for those inshore missions. We also picked up some really good pilchard and mackerel burley bombs the other day and these really helped to liven up the short bites. A must for inshore fishing. Whole and 1/2 pilchards are weighted just enough to get to the bottom and we sacrifice a few into chunks to get the water column busy with bits and scent. Fresh caught mackerel are pretty good too but if you can’t catch them then you can buy these from FD too.

We have had a lot of Chinese fish with us during the Chinese New Year celebrations and they have had a lot of fun. Many had never caught a fish before and it’s always great to share our wonderful country and experiences with visitors.

The weather looks to be clearing up over the next few days so we can get back out on the water.

Tight lines!

Capt Damo

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