Author: Nik Key (Snap)
It was a chilly day on Sunday – white frost and ice everywhere out on the West. These are the winter mornings when a change of tactics (and coast) can ensure a good feed.
I headed out from Cornwallis for a Gurnard hunt in some channels, as I have not done this for quite some time. We were plagued by KY, but this was a great by-catch (the smoker was humming as I write). We also got a few sharks including a seven Giller of about 30kg, which we released unharmed. This was what I like about the Manukau; it could produce such a variety of fish in a single outing.
The water was glass and this was a reconnaissance trip, so we tried different areas like little Huia bank, the Huia mussel beds, the second channel out from Cornwallis and the main channel. I anchored in a likely spot, dropped down a burly (which was tied to the anchor to make a nice trail under the boat) and used a 3/0 flasher rig (Terihiki Terror or similar).
My favorite bait for Gurnard is mullet, blue macs, and pilchard (but not necessarily in that order). They all work well on these fantastic table fish, and I tend to keep changing to see what they prefer on any given day. I like to cut off excess line so that the sinker is right up close to the bottom hook (Gurnard usually hug the bottom). In saying this when the fishing is hot, I will drop a lightly weighted soft bait down into the burly and the bigger Gurnard will hit this on the drop. Some spots have a lot of current so I find it best to fish Gurnard over the tide in these areas, say 1.5 hours either side.
The Gurnard have a strange bite sometimes and you will feel around three subtle nibbles before they finally take the bait. Be patient and don’t strike until the weight comes on, even though just lifting the rod is sufficient to hook the fish using the small re-curve style hooks.
So with a couple of great Gurnard fishing months left, you should try the mighty Manukau or Kaipara harbor and you will be pleasantly surprised how easy it is to target these abundant inner harbor fish.
Guest blogger profile:
Nick Key is a skipper, guide, and consultant at Snap Fishing Ventures snapfishingventures.com.