Big Snapper Off The Rocks

When it comes to fishing, you just can’t top rockfishing or as some people say LBG (land-based-game fishing). I’m going to stick with the term rockfishing as LBG implies that you do a bit more than simply casting out a piece of dead bait from the rocks and hoping to catch the big one. We had rough seas and gusting south-westerlies all week and I was eager to go for a fish. Low tide was around midday and there was no swell on the east coast of the Island. I left home around 9 o’clock, bought some bait from the Stonewall shop and casually drove to Medland’s Beach. Something happened during the 20 minute drive. I felt so excited, after all fishing the remote coasts of New Zealand is an adventure and although you might have done this hundreds of times, you sense that special feeling.

Yeah man, I was seriously excited and there is nothing wrong with that! By the time I unpacked the car and me and Rani started to walk, I realized that I should have been at my destination right now and fishing. I could and should have left home earlier.

I had a nice 4 kg Bonito burley bag, however, I forgot to bring a rope and the respective container. After rigging the first rod and reel combo, it was around 1015 already and I felt like a lazy fool for not being here an hour ago. The wind was side-on and I thought:

‘Don’t bother with the second rod, don’t bother with the burley, just cast out mate.’ And that’s what I did, a whole squid baited onto two fixed 6/0 hooks on a meter of 60 pound trace. I was using my 10-15 kg, 8.6 foot two-piece rod and the ever trusted Shimano 6500 Baitrunner spooled with 30 pound line.

Boom, I hooked a snapper immediately. It was 30+ cm and went straight into the bucket. Second cast, boom, I was on again. A smaller snapper that was released to fight another day. So there I was, casting out, every cast a bite and the burley was still next to my feet.

snapper‘What do I do, keep casting out, cut a chunk of berley and throw it out?’  Well, three times is a charm, so a third piece of squid was cast out. The bait was taken only a few seconds after it hit the surface; I flicked from free spool into drag mode and, let me say it again, kaaa-booom the rod loaded up and the fish was taking line. Too much line I thought and turned the drag up half a notch, line was still taken…

Oooh, what a great feeling it is when you hear line spooling out, when you get into position to fight a fish, holding the rod as high as is feasible, letting the fish take line when it fights, and working rod and reel as fast as you can when it isn’t pulling line.

The fish had a few runs but I managed to keep the load onto him and to turn its head quickly. Snapper fight hard to begin with but once you’ve turned the head and keep the pressure on, they don’t have much fight in them. That is of course if you can stay on top of them, not letting them run into the foul.

The fight, albeit intense, took only 2-3 minutes, before I saw colour a couple of meters out. There was a lot of colour and all I could think of was not to lose this one. ‘Keep the pressure on, take it easy, slowly wind him onto the the rocks.’ And there it was, a new personal best for snapper off the rocks.

bigsnapper2Needles to say, I was stoked! I put her into a rock pool and for a moment, I was unsure of what to do next. I still had 4 kg of burley and had only used three pieces of squid so far. I decided to toss all the burley into the water and fish hard for another hour or so. The fish kept biting and biting and I kept landing and releasing snapper. One after another…

What a beautiful (fishing) day! I packed in at 1115 which was just amazing. Landed enough fish for a whole week within the first 10 minutes and there were plenty more snapper wanting to get arrested. While cleaning the fish a dinghy passed by and unfortunately, I realized too late that there were some mate’s of mine in it. I wondered how their day will turn out.

Well, I ate lots of fish yesterday, and Rani and I have 3 smoked fish, a couple of smoked wings and a smoked head to enjoy for the rest of the week. Here some more pics for you.





12 thoughts on “Big Snapper Off The Rocks”

    1. Cheers Jade, planning to go for a rockfish tomorrow. Hurt my nose at work though -got the winch handle in the face taking a hover craft off the trailer – let’s see how I feel in the morning.

  1. Now that’s what I call a snapper! Well done Ben. I remember plenty of those days that you were feeling ‘unwell’ while in Auckland. Are there any easy access places to go fishing on the island? Well, I should say easy access places where there are still fish?

    1. Heya and cheers GR, how are things? I suppose easy spots would be at the far end of the surf beaches on the east coast. Quite deep water and one has not to go far onto the rocks. And of course the wharfs. But the easiest way is to get the dinghy out and drop the long line or fish off the dinghy…

      1. Hey Ben. I’m doing good mate. I’ll probably be moving up to Ruatoria soon to be the head science person in schools up there for REAP. They’ve apparently got a fully-equipped lab (although fully-equipped in rural NZ likely means alcohol burners and cranks for power) and will have schools send their students to me for instruction. They’re probably going to have me literacy and numeracy to adults up there too. I might make a trip to your neck of the woods once everything gets settled over here.

        1. Sounds good mate; so no Palmerston North then? Ruatoria seems to be a good spot in NZ, too. Sure, you’ll make some good contacts with the Ngati Porou, local Iwi down there, teach a bit in the Maraes and get a some Paua and crays in return… I’m keen to do some chemistry myself, had a bit of a go at the schools over here, but to be frank, I’m sick of having to deal with massively overweight, female principals and the sort that got their teaching degrees back in the 70s and have since made sure to talk in political jargon about teaching and getting jobs for their spouses and friends. Yeah mate, we keep in touch, B

  2. Hey Ben and well done. A cracking fish from what we believed was a cracking spot. Shame it wasn’t that calm when I was over there! Now you need to have another go at that Schooner Bay ledge once that south westerly drops. There are clearly some better fish around now it’s cooling off a little. Talking of which, how cold is it? Paul xxxxx

    1. Heya Paul, well, the temperature here depends mainly on the winds. If we have southerly winds it’ll be around 8-10 deg Cel at night, if it is overcast and we’ve got other winds it is around 12-15 deg Cel at night. Had a couple of cold mornings and nights but on average it’s around 17-25 deg Cel during the day. So not too bad, winter hasn’t started officially either. Indeed, people are catching good snapper close in at the moment. I got a winch handle into my face getting a hover craft off the trailer and thus wasn’t too keen to get out fishing last weekend. But i tell you mate, the East Coast has been very still for almost a month. So yeah, we’ve got a long weekend coming up (Queen’s Bday) and I should be out there doing some sort of fishing. I also figured out how to get on that ledge on the Northern side of Medland’s beach; remember we went to have a look and didn’t find good access.

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