Fishing Report - Issue 970

05 Oct 2021

Fishing Report. Last week we spoke about weather apps. Hopefully that helped to keep boaties and their passengers safe on the water. Let’s talk about baits this week.

When it comes to running a charter business, outside of live baits we have a few selected dead baits and a few hints on making the baits go just that little bit further. We will also refer to slow jiggers, lures and plastic baits, and will take a look at some hooks.

Probably our most common bait for snapper fishing is the trusty old squid. Snapper love them and we have found they usually produce the best results along with pilchards. The disadvantage is that they smell bad and cause a fairly decent mess on the bait board once they thaw in the sun. They also aren’t usually the best for staying on the hook and are often picked off by smaller fish.

We counter this by using #10 circle hooks (#8 on ledger rigs) and taking out of the ice bin only the bait we need at the time. This firms up the bait on the hook and snapper will have to bite that little bit harder to get them off.

The same goes for pilchards, but in their case we use #6 curved hooks through the eye sockets and around through the back slightly behind the gill plates. We also cut off the tail of the pilchard. This does two things - it makes the bait less resistant to “tumbling” and knotting up lines and it makes the bait appear (to the snapper) that it is injured and easy pickings. In addition, it releases fish oil a bit quicker out of the bait.

When using circle hooks or curved hooks when stray lining, do not strike when you get a bite. Let the fish take the bait and run with it. Slowly “hit the brakes” and winding in as smoothly as you can, keep the pressure on gently. The theory behind it is that you are presenting the bait to the fish. Striking when the fish is at the “curious stage” will only spook it. Another reason is that trevally and tarakihi have soft mouths and striking will often pull the hook out of the fish’s mouth. If you can’t resist striking, put your rod in the holder until you can. You will wonder why you never used the non-strike method when you start landing more fish. 

Squid is expensive and the price of squid is increasing. The quality also varies, depending on availability.

Another bait we would like to suggest is mullet. The good thing about mullet is that whole mullet filleted will leave the frames for your cray pots and the frame can also be used straight into your berley pot. You get a good deal of bait off one mullet. Mullet will stick on the hooks pretty good too. Also, mullet with the skin on is good for trevally. They love mullet skins. Mullet is very oily and don’t forget to cut the heads in half and use them on #10 hooks as well.

Leave all of your dead baits frozen until you are ready to use them, however thaw out at least two mullet the night before you fish. Use these first and rotate one with a frozen one out of the bin as you use it so it semi-thaws.

Soft baits - some swear by them. I’ve used them, but hand on heart cannot say they produce the same results as dead baits. They have their place, and they are fun and long term inexpensive. But be aware, not all soft baits are biodegradable and there’s already enough plastic in our oceans as far as I’m concerned.

Then there’s slow jigs/lures. I actually find these quite reliable, but note that they often produce the best results at the change of light periods. We seem to get the best results from orange-colored jigs for some reason. We don’t know why, we just do. 

The disadvantage of course is using these (and soft baits and ledger rigs) over foul and weed. You can lose a lot of gear. We nearly always stray line over foul for this reason.

For everyone out there who are live baiting , don’t throw your live baits away at the end of the day, once you are done. They are excellent as dead baits also. Chuck them in the freezer for the next trip.

Be safe out there folks and keep an eye on the weather. And remember, if in doubt, don’t go out.

Tony Marsters

Warfish Charters
Phone (021) 298 5750

The Fishing Report proudly sponsored by Mercury Bay Marine.