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Winter is well and truly here, but forget rugging up by the fire because the fishing is red hot! Massive schools of pilchards have been amassing in the Craddock Channel, and dolphins, gannets, Bryde’s whales are all jostling for position while kingfish and snapper clean up the scraps. The kingfish have been so thick on some days that the inchikus and kaburas barely have a chance to attract a snapper as they are intercepted by kingfish on descent. The kings are neither rats nor biggies – the average size being around 80-90cm.

The kings that were holding around Horn Rock and Little Barrier seem to have shifted their attention to the nearby workups, but there are still nice schools in residence around the tip of Coromandel, Channel Island, and the Mokohinaus.

If you are not inclined to travel the 45-odd miles from downtown Auckland that we have been, blindly drifting the 50m ‘squiggles’ areas around Anchorite Rock will yield a steady stream of nice snapper and there have been kingfish schools regularly flying through this area too. There hasn’t been a clear bite time on some days, although on other days the last 2 hours before the tide changes has been productive. If last year was anything to go by, gannet activity should start heating up very soon with the Firth of Thames and East Kawau likely possies that are more suitable for smaller vessels.

Now is a great time of year for prospecting out deeper behind Great Barrier on those crisp calm days when a high sits over us. It doesn’t take many hapuka, bass or bluenose to provide plenty of beautiful meat to go around, with the chance of a swordfish for those with the expertise and patience.

See you out there!

Nick Jones & George Bourke - Hauraki Express

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