Fishing Anchovy schools. These schools are an amazing sight when being preyed upon. With the right approach, using lures that resemble a small baitfish or part thereof slowly wafting down, a successful hook-up is assured.

The Espresso Report.

A pod of whales gently rising and spouting randomly around the boat. Some fast paced bottle-nose dolphins surfing past, or a hundred common dolphins congregating in some larger winter style pods. It can be hectic out in the gulf while most of Auckland merely plods along on the motorways. Such spectacles at sea are amazing to encounter and transfix you to the spot. Spectators left quietly gaping as a new unforeseen scene unfolds, then disappears in a blink.

Miles of quiet and flat sea in the mid ground on a few days, and you’d think the sea was void of all life. This return trip can be bliss after a cold early start, a long trip out wide to hunt and battle with sea dragons, then the long(er) trip home, usually later than planned. The winter sea chromes off, mercury mirror images. The boat motion is but a gentle waver on a balance point as you low-fly home at 30kts, sea birds easily gliding alongside. Sun waning but the smiles not. Winter fishing can be simply superb.

Where’s The Fish?

Bluefin tuna mania has hit in the BOP. Or time for a marlin up North, still? Or perhaps you’d prefer winter deep drops for big extremely tasty fish like hapuka/groper, bass, bluenose and many more denizens of the deep. Just keep an eye on your favourite weather forecasters (, swellmap, metservice, Metvuw). Head out and drop those hot lures the Giant Squidwings, 500gm or 750gm, big toys for big fish and put that smile on your dial – along with the friends and family enjoying the freshest of fish.

The Firth of Thames has been providing some good fishing, very good for this time of year. Kahawai, snapper and gurnard, use your softbaits and small jigs by the numbers. To work out your jig weight, it should be 2 x water depth in grams. So if fishing in 30m, 2 x 30, start with a 60gm jig.

Just north of Tiri tiri channel was a mass gathering earlier this week, common dolphins, more like something out of a Close Encounters. Yet so quickly gone as if a mirage, lots of baitfish there, but a few less now.

Great Barrier can really fire at this time of year. Particularly if you’re hunting around in a kayak in the Jurrasic world on ‘the other side’ – Arid island way, or somewhere along the long southern island border – kingfish and snapper when you can coax them. Some surprisingly good snapper are here ‘n there tailing the anchovy schools. More than one snapper of the magic number is lying in wait.

Skipjack have turned tail.

Anchovy schools being preyed upon is an amazing sight, also sighted by gannets, and the rest of the food chain if the anchovies aren’t in full escape mode hugging the sea floor – one of the methods of avoidance. Worth fishing the area when you spy a big dense anchovy school on the sounder.

Fishing Anchovy Schools in the Hauraki Gulf:

Chose a lure that resembles a small baitfish or part thereof slowly wafting down. Such as a micro jig (25gm or less jigs) or tiny 25gm inchiku like the BetaBug. This has be a winning ticket – snapper and kingfish lurk and while often not pictured on a sounder in this scenario, they can readily charge in and nail your tiny tidbit when bigger more aggressive approaches are simply ignored. When the bite is really ‘off’ this approach has saved the day and the resulting hook-ups on light gear often produce the thrill of the day.

For instance a 3/8 to 1oz Stingaz jighead, with the smaller 4” curly tail Livie softbait. Add a Waterwing for that extra bit of teasing flap if you wish. The key is to watch the line closely on descent, any pause – strike. If it reaches the sea floor, not too much movement is critical. A slow wind, or gentle rise and fall. Also leave it several moments on the floor don’t touch it and leave the line slightly limp. Gentle slow twitch and a slow wind up – ready for the strike a metre or three up. Snapper will often follow and strike after many metres of following and eyeballing the imitation fish trying to quietly sneak away undetected.

Winter – a time of opportunity for PBs, big fish, clear crisp days of memories that ensure future grins. Now is the perfect time to get a plan together, get your gear ready poised, then have THE DAY.


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