Napier visitor very happy with winter snapper

We ventured out both Saturday and Sunday this weekend with visitors from Napier. These guys couldn’t believe the difference between fishing down in Hawkes Bay open waters to the beautiful islands and scenery just off Mangawhai Heads. They were even more impressed with the large resident snapper we brought on board as all they’ve been catching down there lately is gurnard.

Saturday was a bit rough going with the winds still high and the fish not biting. We were so glad we made the effort to get out again on Sunday. The weather was still a bit blowy so the lee of the Hen was the perfect spot for us. Stray lining the berley trail with no weight and whole pilchards was the most productive for us and we managed to bring some beautiful snapper, the best one being 14lbs.

The Napier boys said they’ll be back!

Sometimes the fish win…

With a break in the weather finally, we headed out on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday the southerly was still blowing at approx 20 knots but we managed to tuck in behind Taranga Island.  Unfortunately the water temperature had just dropped to around 15 degrees which seems to have made the fish lethargic & difficult to bring on the bite!  There were plenty of schools of juvenile snapper around so after giving them a good feed we decided to try something different.  Although only a half day trip was planned, we stayed out for the full day & ended up stray lining the shallows which ended up producing some nice pannies which made the day worthwhile.

Sunday looked more promising with the wind easing up so out we headed out again. Fishing the deeper water was easier due to lighter winds so we did manage to bring some bigger fish on the bite this time although they were still playing hard to get.  Stray lining in close to the mainland again proved to be the most productive with several good size snapper and a lot of fun with kahawai on the light gear.  All in all pretty damn good considering the cold southerly blast we’ve just experienced!  Winter fishing should get better & better from here on in.

Soft baiting still works in winter…

Yesterday we fitted a new sonar module to Fishmeister so headed out across the Mangawhai Bar to test the unit. Although we hadn’t planned on fishing, we just couldn’t resist the temptation to flick a quick softbait over the side. Within a few minutes this large panny willingly hopped on board. It just goes to show that soft baiting can work in winter. On this day the water temperature was 15.8C and the fish was caught just outside the Mangawhai Heads sand bar. We took the opportunity to catch a few kahawai to round out dinner. The kahawai at this time of year seem to be a lot smaller than in summer, but they were prolific…and very tasty!

A quick after-work fishing trip

Today a local builder and electrician downed tools a bit early to join us out on the briny. By the looks of things, there were plenty of other boaties with the same idea! The forecast was good so we headed out to Taranga Island (the Hen) and started out at the far eastern point. Here we put down the anchor and got a berley trail underway. Within minutes we had some good kahawai in the bin and shortly afterwards found a massive school of trevally – lots of fun . After 20 or 30 minutes we started to catch some reasonable snapper but the nor’easter kicked in and swell started to make things a little difficult. There are so many options out here it wasn’t difficult to go to plan B. Off we headed to the sheltered western end of the island where once again we put down the anchor and got another berley trail underway. This time the target species was snapper and that’s what we caught – and plenty of them.

What a great way to wind down after a day at work. We finished the day in flat calm conditions while watching a beautiful sun set over Bream Bay. The journey home just after sunset was easy with a relatively flat calm bar.

Swarms of snapper

Sun and awesome conditions made for a top afternoon out in a combined sightseeing and fishing trip for a group of guests, with a keen photographer on board.

After a glassy smooth bar crossing, we headed up the coast to take in Anderson’s Cove – only accessible to the public by sea – then out to see Sail Rock up close, the first time our passengers had been out on the water in this area.

Time to get fishing and we found ourselves a sheltered spot on the northern side of Taranga Island, where there were swarms of baby snapper that went on to swim another day!

We got the burley going to attract some bigger fish and that did the trick, resulting in a good haul of snapper as well as a kahawai. Turns out we had a big enough catch that nobody wanted the parrot fish who was keen to come on board, so he went back as well!

It was a fast trip back to Mangawhai and the breeze had come up just a bit so our passengers got to see waves over the bar in action before heading home with bags full of fish.

All in all, an excellent afternoon out in one of our favourite fishing spots.

Ocean going kahawai

We took advantage of a break in the weather on Wednesday to take a quick trip to the Hen and Chicks. We decided to try out some new spots.

As usual, plenty of good snapper and an abundance of large ocean going kahawai which were a lot of fun on the light soft bait tackle. We had difficulty reaching the snapper through the huge schools of kahawai! The kahawai were particularly voracious, taking pilchards, squid, soft bait and lures. So we took the opportunity to have a bit of fun – catching large, strong kahawai on light tackle is always great fun.

We rate kahawai as one of the best fish, both from a power to weight ratio, making them fun to catch, but as a great eating fish both fresh and smoked. Although we were only out for a few hours, we managed to bring home plenty of food for the family.

Nice to have had a break from the windy weather to get out there. The bar was fairly tame and the sun was shining.

Calm after the storm

Cyclone Cook may have put paid to fishing over Easter weekend but once the storm passed, we were back on the water… and posing for photos for our new website.

The boat ramp still had some traffic but this was mostly people heading out to enjoy a bit of estuary fishing – you’d be amazed what can be caught in the estuary, without having to venture across the bar.

The bar would have been OK to cross in Fishmeister but we wouldn’t recommend taking it on in a smaller boat. Even still it would have been a rough ride so we decided to have fun spinning around in close. The dunes were looking beautiful and the day was clear and blue. Early mornings are always the most calm with little wind around.

The resulting drone shots were taken by Stephen Ramsey of In Flyte Services who we would highly recommend. Thanks Stephen!

Bites at the Hen and Chicks

The sun was shining today but the 2m swells kept it interesting. We had the skipper plus 6 aboard but luckily everyone had hardy stomachs and there were no issues with sea sickness. There was a mixture of experienced fishos and a couple of novices, but we all had plenty of room to fish. And everyone got to reel in at least a couple of fish – one clever fisherman even caught a bird! We’re happy to report that the bird went free with no evident damage.

We started out at Sail Rock which was a little quiet but once we hit the Hen (Taranga) and Chicks the fish started biting well. We caught a few snapper drift fishing with soft baits and the rest were caught stray lining with whole pilchards. All in all it was a slow day but we came home with a nice chilly bin full of fish – plenty for everyone. The boat handled the bar beautifully despite the swells and a great day was had by all.

Harry’s first good kahawai – Hen and Chicks

What a day for Harry. We enjoyed a beautiful sunny day out at the Hen & Chickens (as you can see from the photo). On the way out there, we stopped to see what the birds were so excited about. Wow –  it was such a bonus to see huge schools of blue mao mao – these were just amazing to see in the crystal clear water. We could have stayed for ages and wished we’d had the snorkelling gear. A few other boats gathered round and we spent an enjoyable half and hour just watching these beautiful creatures.

On we cruised to the Hen where the bird work led us to a couple of kahawai boil ups. Out went the casts with young Harry being the first to hook up. After that it was busy, busy, busy and a lot of fun had by all. A number were released, especially those that were only lip hooked. The unfortunate ones that were gut or gill hooked were dealt to (iki’ed and bled) and put straight on ice. Thank goodness for oversized chilli bins and salt ice!

A very exciting day all round and we’re quite sure Harry’s school mates would have heard plenty about it.

Even small kingis are fun

Young Ben caught his first legal kingfish today – this one was out at Taranga Island, part of the Hen and Chickens. Although only 76cm, this fish was still quite a challenge to bring in – particularly because we were targeting kahawai on light gear. So you can imagine our surprise when the bait got monstered by a feisty kingi. It took well over 20 minutes to land this fish because of the light gear, but it was well worth it, resulting in “whoop whoops” and hi-5’s all round.

We’re so lucky to have kingfish in our waters so close to shore. They put up such a great fight and have the added bonus of being absolutely delicious. We enjoy ours raw, pan fried, as steaks on the barbeque, or smoked and there’s always enough to share around the neighbourhood. For those that haven’t tried kingfish sashimi, you are missing out. Cut thinly across the grain and served with soy, ginger and wasabi, washed down with a good oakey chardonnay – you’ll be going back for more.