Moderate tidal flows this week, not too fast or not too slow. Even though the full moon glares overhead and the wind may be whistling. A happy fishing tune for the day can be played. Especially since the middle gulf and outer channels are both the place to be, and not to be. The wind is the determing factor.
Sliding doors, when the currents collide. Some excellent sea life of all sorts burst forth like early Spring flowers. Similar to a summers day with sunshine and panic stations on the boat as fish are on a hot bite. Excellent sea currents, sea surface temperatures, plankton, krill and right on up the chain converging at the gulfs gates. A partial eclipse first thing Wednesday morning there was too. And earthquakes – affect unknown, but no doubt many theories, depending on whether you caught fish that day or not perhaps.
Where’s The Fish?
Orca families were visiting Half Moon bay Tuesday this week keeping locals and those in kayaks enthralled.
Some excellent signs of winter life prevail on the right day. With whales dolphins and the rest of the aquatic crew (and some humans if we get lucky), somewhere around the Hauraki Gulf. When the big chain aligns the sea she rattles. A few short days ago when the wind dropped, a day or three were spent with a faint Attenborough voice in the head. The sea filled with tiny krill and plankton, baitfish getting their sprinting exercise with kingfish barrelling along behind in hot pursuit. Thresher sharks thrashing around with dolphins conducting the orchestrated melee. And let’s not forget gannets thumping in from above.
The teamwork of dolphins is inspiring, even with mammoth 20ton Sei or Brydes whales crashing the party now and then. Which begs the question, will the massive Blue Whale visit again this year? Such an immense presence in every way to observe last time she graced the gulf. Or the diminutive by comparison pygmy Blue or the cute lil’ Minkes? All this action indicates that workups have pumped up the volume ‘out wide’.
Workups can and do pop up ‘out of nowhere’. Northern Whangaparaoa peninsula just a few days ago for instance. Right in and along the inshore areas just to the north have seen some exciting bird and fish action with it. Easy reach of small water craft, and landbased too. The kahawai that have been noticeable on the surface of the northern Tiri channel lately may have joined forces and encouraged the extended duration and nature of the workups. Dolphins not necessarily required, however lots of gannets keen to feed.
When workups move along at a high pace it really does pay to target kingfish that will be pretty much all over the area, not just at the head of the steam train. So a slow moving jig or softbait can be the go-to. Rather than the standard speed or mechanical jigging approach. While the kings aren’t in the heat of the action circling the baitballs looking for their next tasty tidbit, midbattle they can cruise around and re-join the fray at their leisure as the workups meander around in random directions. There are lot of these fish just cruising around. They can be far more interested in inhaling an easy to eat. A slowly descending, merely wafting – calmly presented lure. No chasing, no hurry. Even if they have just filled their belly with pilchards – they can always fit in just one more tasty wee anchovy look-a-like!
In 50m just 1oz jighead with either a natural tail or curly tail softbait is ideal. Cast well ahead of your drift direction so the softbait has as little resistance to it as possible. This allows it to look like an unfortunate combatant from the sea surface gradually making its way to Davy Jones’ locker. This approach also increases the hang-time (reduces sink rate) giving the lure more chance of being spotted by fish mid-water, where those kings will be patrolling.
Ideally use lightweight tackle too, whether spin or overhead. There’s nothing much for cunning kingfish to rub up against and break your leader. Open water means a very different approach than ‘welcome to the jungle’ terrain. A typical softbait or light jigging setup of 10-20lb braid with 20lb leader is plenty to tame the many 75-95cm kingfish that are in reasonable numbers out in 50m. The key is to tire the fish with constant pressure, allowing it to turn its head and run. Each time the run will be shorter as it runs out of puff, like you and me. Until it sees the boat for the first time – then it will put on a sudden sharp burst. Be ready for this run, it almost always happens. Such runs can result in red faces and a lot of bad language as it disappears, along with lure, line, maybe even a rod tip. It can provide for a cool story at the next BBQ gathering. Gone. Slacken your drag once the fish does start to have noticeably shorter runs, usually just before first colour is seen below. Bustoffs of kingfish in the gulf – a rarity.
Get the gear out!
Winter solstice has passed, the days are getting longer. Yes – more fishing time available! And winter fishing can be highly rewarding indeed. Now is not the time to put the gear away, it’s time to bring it out and put it through it’s paces on some big thumping reds, hard charging green machines or less physical but certainly welcome John Dory, Gurnard and Kahawai.