At the end of the day

For many boaties and fishermen in the South Island, Labour Weekend is the start of the summer fishing season. With anticipation of a good Golden Bay snapper season, we made the road trip to Collingwood from Christchurch, with friends.

Excitement was high, but Mohua (Golden Bay) is exposed to infamous northerly wind and, with a tidal entrance to the wharf, it can be challenging for those who have never fished from Collingwood. This week we would also experience the highs and lows of fishing.

Below are a few key points we have learnt, launching from the Collingwood boat ramp and heading across the bar into Golden Bay.

Check the “Windy” app as this is great for the Collingwood Area

Check the tides and tide heights for the bar crossing

If possible follow a local out or go with someone who has fished the area

A system of local knowledge buoys has been put in place to help with channel navigation

Navigation in the

Collingwood area requires extra planning, as the approaches are over extensive tidal flats that may be extremely shallow

The approach may accumulate logs and other flood debris from the Aorere River, after a storm or days of torrential rain.

After a couple of patchy crossed the bar to our first spot of the morning.

After a disappointing hour at Spot X, we decided to up anchor and make the short 15 minute trip to another spot in the mussel farm.

The Osprey quietly crept up to our previously marked spot and we tied up. Now the pressure was on, as we had less than three hours remaining before the tide got too low to make it back to Collingwood.

The four of us took up our usual fishing positions in the boat and then it was bait on and lines into the water, along with the berley. Nerves began to build with the anticipation of who would catch the first snapper of the new season.

The usual boat banter had quietened down and the waiting began. Shortly, someone yelled out, “Enquires” and then, “Nibbles!” Then those magic words, “Wait one moment— caller hooked on the line!” The first snapper is always an important snapper, so it was wound slowly and steadily towards the boat. As it broke the surface, we grabbed the net and landed the fish to every one’s excitement.

Over the next few hours, the excitement continued as we caught and landed eight large snapper—the disappointment of the last few days quickly forgotten.

And, at the end of the day, after photos of the fish have been taken, the boat has been cleaned, the fish gutted and filleted, there is nothing more enjoyable than serving that freshly caught snapper, with a cold beer, to friends and family as the sun sets.

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