Snapper ‘stars’ on light rods align

It’s great to have the opportunity to showcase the fishing in your backyard. You get to appreciate what you have access to, while enlightening visitors as to what is available outside of their home patch.

In March, I took my mate Richard—head of sales and marketing for Electronic Navigation Limited and Furuno—out for a fish while he was in Nelson on business. He was keen to get out on the water and experience some South Island fishing and see what the newly installed Furuno electronics on my boat would do for us in Tasman Bay.

I picked him up from his motel at 4.30am and headed to the Nelson boat ramp, anticipating what the dawn would bring. After an effortless launch, and with a light land breeze coming out of Tasman Bay, we were soon heading out the ‘Cut’ in Nelson Haven, heading towards where I planned to fish, hoping for a few hours action before we both had to return to work.

To be honest, I was feeling a little bit of pressure; I had talked up the Tasman Bay fishery on previous catch ups with Richard so was hoping it would live up to its reputation!

Once in the chosen area, the Furuno quickly indicated likely looking fish, so I deployed the Minn Kota and we were soon facing into the land breeze. By the signal showing on the sounder, I called the fish as snapper—they were all very close to the bottom.

I quickly got the rods ready, baited and in the water, and started the berley going over the side, as that is important at this time of year to get plenty of attractant in the water.

It was still dark and I was happy, as I like to get set before the sun starts to show in the sky. After a little wait, Richard was first to bring up a spikey dog, certainly not target species and I felt a little bit more pressure creep over me. When the second spikey dog came up, I’m not sure Richard was quite believing what I had been saying. I reassured him that all would be ok as it was still early. After a barracouta made its way to the boat next, I confidently said that was all the rubbish fish out of the way.

To take the attention off the rubbish fish, I put the Jet Boil on and brewed a coffee, which always tastes so good when out on the water. No sooner had we finished our coffee and the sun was just starting to show behind the eastern hills, we had a hit on one of the rods. I was certain this was target species by the weight and action on the rod and to say I was relieved was an understatement!

We were using the rods I build under the brand AquaZition Rods, and I don’t think Richard was used to using rods so light, but he soon realised the power they generate, whilst not transferring any weight from the fish to the angler. It didn’t take long before that beautiful orange glow appeared from the depths to confirm, yes, this was our target species!

I quickly netted the fish and lifted it onboard, re-baited the Black Magic flasher rig and promptly deployed it before dispatching the fish. When the fish come on the feed in Tasman Bay it can often be a very short bite, so the idea is to keep as many baits as possible in the water over this time the fish are feeding.

A quick photo shoot, high fives all round and we soon had a fat 16lb snapper on ice. The next rod doubled over with what appeared to be another nice snapper.

What followed next can only be described as mayhem; it was an amazing session on big snapper and we sure got a workout and taste of South Island fishing at its finest. After seven nice snapper were landed, we decided that was enough for the morning as they all ranged in size from 14–18lb and were in prime eating condition. It was still early too; only just after 8.00am and our job was done and time to head back to work. I spent a bit of time getting the fish cleaned up: shinkei jimed, gutted, washed and packed in ice to start chilling down. The snapper were all packed with crabs, so they had been feeding hard on the bottom.

We were buzzing, Tasman Bay had turned it on and I got to showcase what great fishing we have in the South Island.

There is nothing like a bit of pressure to make you appreciate a good day out fishing. The good days certainly make you appreciate the tough ones, but to have all the stars align when you have mates visiting is special.

I’m now building Richard a rod just like he was using so hopefully he can put it to the same use up north!

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