Bay of Islands - November 2012
Snapper schooling slow to startGEOFF STONE
Rubbish weather, with consistently strong westerlies predominating, has limited fishing opportunities in the Bay of Islands during early spring, and kept water temperatures low, too.
The result has been a slow start to the snapper schooling season, but fishing will fire up as we move through November. The best action has been either on the deeper reefs at 60m, in the shallows of Brampton Reef, or along the 30m contour off Roberton Island. As the spawning season progresses, these early-run fish will tend to move to accumulation areas off Centre Foul, Mitas Foul and Onslow Rocks. Visitors will have no trouble finding the hotspots, with accumulations of boats signposting the action. The snapper schools are often accompanied by large gatherings of pilchards and anchovies, so I like to keep a very small sabiki rig in action whilst fishing to pick up fresh bait. These small livies are deadly on the bigger fish, and will often tempt a bite when all else fails. Schooling snapper are frequently up in the water column, so light sinkers are the order of the day, even in 40m, with extra lead only needed if the wind makes the drift fast.
With spawning fish, a lot of peer pressure will be exerted to release bigger specimens. Most snapper over 5kg are of inferior table quality anyway, so are better as an investment in the future of the fishery.
Kingfish results have been erratic, but hapuku have been a bit better, mainly on the very deep foul in areas like Main Rock and Queens Buoy. September and October used to bring good hapuku catches in areas such as 71 Metre Reef and Bird Trench, but reliable results in these shallower spots may be history unless some action is taken to boost hapuku stocks on the Northland coast.
November is also a time to look at an early albacore trolling trip out wide. We have had some great results towing smaller lures in November, mostly outside the 400m contour. Although albacore are the main target, we have had some other notable catches, including the first marlin of the season on November 7, mako sharks, skipjack, mahimahi and yellowfin.
Bay of Islands by Geoff Stone
Ph 0274 377 844
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