Most of the gamefish activity remains close to shore, where some good patches of marlin continue to feed up on schools of mackerel and skipjack.
Although some reasonable action has come on lures, by far the best results have come from live baits. There are plenty of kahawai, both inside the Bay and around Bird Rock and Piercy Island, plus some big koheru schools in Pig Gully if skippies are hard to find. The biggest stripy so far this season is 177kg, caught on Striker in mid-March, but blue marlin continue to be scarce and yellowfin non-existent. There is a concerted lobby effort underway to initiate some protection for the yellowfin, and anyone wishing to add their voice can log in to the LegaSea website.
Broadbill have provided steady action at the Garden Patch when conditions allow, and we are hoping the anticyclones start crossing the island a bit further north as winter approaches. Once the marlin have all but disappeared, the swords will still provide viable fishing until mid-August.
Snapper fishing has improved steadily, with some good schools of pannies feeding on the worm and pipi beds in the shallows, though they are moving around a lot and may take some finding. The shallower reefs outside the Bay, from the Nine Pin to Rocky Point and out from Oke Bay, are also holding good fish; these will be a better bet for those wanting to target a bigger snapper plus the odd tarakihi and trevally.
Kahawai have almost been a plague inside the Bay, especially around Centre Foul and Brampton Reef; ledger rigs are the order of the day in these areas to get through them to the bottom, where most of the snapper action is.
Kingfish remain steady but unspectacular. The easterlies have limited our options, and bronzies have ruled out Rocky Point for practically the whole summer. Our best results have come from 71m Reef when conditions allow, though Kingfish Reef and the Hole in the Rock are also holding good fish. If the fish are holding deep on 71m Reef, use heavier gear, lock up quick after hook-up, and use breakaway sinkers to ensure that any fish escaping are not hung up on the reef forever.
Bay of Islands by Geoff Stone
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