I start planning most fishing missions by listening to the marine forecast. Foremost, it aids me significantly in judging whether it is safe to go out there or not. Further, it provides me with key information that I use to answer the two most important questions when it comes to fishing.
- When should I go fishing?
- Where should I go fishing?
If you are new to (land-based) fishing you might have many more questions but with a bit of experience and expertise it really only comes down to these two questions. I followed the forecast starting from Sunday and my plan was to go fishing, even if only for a couple of hours, some time in this week. We experienced strong (30-50 knots) and cold south-westerlies, together with showers, at times heavy, and a moderate easterly swell. The marine forecast is quite accurate, when you take the time to carefully listen to it, and it stated that the wind would turn from south-west to south-east on Wednesday and built up as of Thursday for the rest of the week.
The forecast for Wednesday was overcast, with a chance of morning showers, variable 5 knots, increasing in the evening, still more than a meter of swell on the east coast, low tide about 1500 o’clock, with a strong tidal stream.
In other words, it has been rough out there and it will be rough again, there is a window of opportunity on Wednesday, where I could fish anywhere comfortably but the east coast. But there is even more useful information if you put it all together. The entire Tryphena area (south-facing) got a battering by the sea for a few days. You can imagine that this results in more food being dispersed into the water, be it washed off from the rocks, like shellfish or crabs, or be it directed from the channel towards the shore.
When it is rough, bigger fish will come in close and use these conditions to their advantage, preying on bait fish that can lose their balance momentarily in the wash. Actually, this white water will allow them to come in close in stealth mode, without being noticed either by any prey and the land-based angler.
My plan was to fish a spot on the south-west coast, fish the outgoing tide, ideally 2-3 hours before low tide. A ledge with deep water right in front and a good current is ideal for a day with big tides.
Bait presentation is obviously important but I believe it is even more important to get a good trail of bait out there. I cut at least half of the 1 kg bag into tiny pieces which I throw into the water. You can catch any size snapper with pilchards, but it is always a good idea to attract some bait fish with a trail of food. Most of these pieces of pilchards will actually – if you don’t just throw it all far away from you – sink into the foul and weeds around the rocks and entice bigger fish to come in close.
I don’t have the pictures here, but cubing pilchards resulted in small kahawai, a few decent snapper and two giant eagle-rays to come around. If you see rays right up close, hanging in the weeds, it means that the ground baiting has been successful.
The kahawai head went out straight away and I put the rod into the rod holder, whilst trying to catch more kahawai with the bait rod. However, it didn’t take long until I had a good take, but since it was only short-lived I left the rod in the holder. 5 minutes or so later I was sure to have something at the end of the line, but it behaved rather oddly. I started yanking and felt some sort of shallow hookup, and was pleased to see the following.
I had three snapper in the rock pool before starting to use the kahawai as bait. As I had hoped, the fresh bait yielded bigger fish. I ground baited the rest of the pilchards and noticed a big snapper feeding right in front of my feet. It took a few attempts but I hooked it and then two more snapper, and ended up releasing the red cod and three smaller snapper.
The biggest snapper was cut in half and both were fried in oil briefly on each side, then rapped in tin foil and allowed to cook for another 15 minutes on the fire place.