Empty workups? Here’s Espresso’s tips for successful workup fishing.

There seemed to be a lot of workups last week with no fish underneath. Yes, this often happens i.e. workups and no fish! What the fish is going on?! Here’s a few tips that can help with successful workup fishing .

  1. Workups that are fast moving may just be smaller baitballs getting chased – and winning. These workups look good to us. However, they are too fast and no food is coming down to attract other fish like snapper well below.
  2. There are only so many snapper to go around and not all workups can contain them at times.
  3. Snapper are a bit like us when it comes to workups – uninvited guests. Dolphins, gannets and baitfish are usually the dominant members. The rest including humans are hangers on.
  4. The workup can look amazing as gannets dive at speed headlong. But as per the attached sounder picture – what they are eating may be only right on the surface, small and fleeting, There’s no real fish other than these surface aperitifs served to gannets and a few lucky dolphins.
  5. Snapper are not the only fish in the sea. Using snapper catching techniques can limit your days overall catch. Perhaps target kingfish, kahawai, mackerel and gurnard instead of just snapper?

The workup can look amazing as gannets dive at speed headlong, but what they are eating may be only right on the surface.

Fishing the blue mackerel baitschools
out in 50m+.

Where’s The Fish?

Inner to mid-gulf workups or drifting out wider in 50m with no mammals in sight. Or in close with little softbaits and smaller sized boats/kayaks/jetskis. All are a pretty good bets right now for snapper fishing. Snapper seem to be in early breeding mode but can still be found almost anywhere. Not everywhere, but in most depths right now. So whatever your preferred style of big red fishing is, you have a good chance of success.

Inner channels haven’t been hitting the headlines, but they are off and running!

Big game fishing for recreational anglers has just hit the early start button as well. Already short billed spearfish and yellow fin tuna (YFT) have been caught. These fish have been on the east side of the North Island. No doubt the Westies will be getting into some monster arrivals imminently.


Kingfish have obliged rather well of late, especially during the snapper ‘just say no’ period of the past several days (albeit changing now though thankfully). Kahawai, some days you can hardly believe how many there are, other days they’re more like a unicorn. Surface schooling around Channel Island in numbers – they were quite happy with nary a kingfish in sight. No doubt that will change in the blink of an eye. And when it does, it will be top water and jigging mayhem. Some smaller kingfish models in and around the Kawau and Flat Rock area are worth targeting.

Although they can be very picky at times as to what will make them bite, a few different approaches can tip the scales in your favour. Try a very small stick bait – 20gm style, an easy lollipop when hunger isn’t the main motivator. Even a tiny 25gm inchiku can make the day – whether in close, or fishing the blue. Mackerel baitschools out in 50m+, the kings are patrolling out there and a slowly wafting inchiku or tiny tungsten micro jig is not only highly effective, it is highly addictive! An addictive way to catch kingfish alright. Just use your softbait gear, 30lb leader and have an absolute whale-of-a-time. Back and forth battles with the mighty green machine. Let the fish tire using the drag judiciously so that once boatside all has been prepared for a quick shot cradled, tiny jig in mouth, smile and click! Then eased back into the water when releasing. Exciting and highly memorable stuff. No foul ground to bust off out over most of the gulf so light leader and light tackle are a magic formula.

What lies ahead?

That lunar cup is filling up along with a significant slowing down of tidal current, those fish bins should transform and be true to their name over the next several days, the fishing is back to its position of ‘good’.

Christmas hustle and bustle is upon the land and with only 2+ weeks left before many businesses shut down the pace is spiralling. Best get in well before the last minute panic, out of stock, can’t deliver till next year, traffic at a standstill type of scenario. Those Christmas holiday days of fun with family friends, sea and sunshine are unfolding in front of us, coming ready or not!

Enjoy your fishing.


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