The Bay Of Islands in New Zealand has for years and is still known today as one of New Zealand's best fishing areas for Snapper.
Snapper abound all year in the Bay Of Islands and there are many charter boats including us that specialize in targeting this species which is New Zealand's most popular eating fish.
Snapper school to spawn in the Bay Of Islands starting sometime between October and December generally and fishing at this time of the year can produce some spectacular catches - we prefer to exercise Catch & Release on the bigger specimens during this period.
Snapper can be caught in a multitude of ways. We predominantly utilize soft baits, stray lining, and ledger rigging, depending on the type of charter and what the customer would like. Please don't worry if you don't understand the technical jargon below as many of our customers don't. For those that do then we like to let you know that we carry quality equipment and can cater to your needs as well as those who have never been fishing before.
When fishing a larger group of people or people who have not fished before we will generally fish ledger rigs and have specialist rods and reels for this on board. With this method we can comfortably fish 8 or even 9 people simultaneously and generally without tangles. Our setup for this is a sinker on the bottom and two circle hooks off separate droppers a short distance up. We use no swivel but join the mainline to the 20 pound fluorocarbon with a uni to uni knot. By using fluorocarbon and circle hooks we are able to do away with the heavier trace often used by other fishermen and get more bites as a result. Our fish are more likely hooked in the corner of the mouth hence the snapper aren't likely to bite through the thinner trace we use. We endeavour to help customers bait hooks as much as possible but are also big believers in teaching people how to tie on the hooks and bait their own lines - if customers are willing. To make life easier we have 4 custom made bait stations - 2 on each side of the boat - that contain bait, bait board, a knife, and spare hooks and sinkers - just in case we can't get to you quick enough due to helping someone else and you want to get your line back in the water quickly.
The reels are easy to use bullet proof Shimano Charter Specials which have a level wind and are matched with Ugly Stick rods which are fairly indestructible! The boat is 29 feet long and full walk around hence we can comfortably fish 4 people down each side. The rods for the windward side of the boat are set with heavier 8kg nylon and lighter sinkers so that they drift further away from the boat and don't tangle with the 4 lines being fished from the other side which feature 6kg line with heavier sinkers to drop directly below the boat. With this style of fishing we generally drift fish rather than anchoring hence covering more ground. If we find a particularly hot patch then we motor back around for another drift over.
Soft Bait Fishing
Since the advent of Berkeley Gulp's, soft bait fishing has taken off in New Zealand. Anyone is welcome to soft bait fish on any of our trips but we do need to charge unfortunately for the baits themselves which are around NZ$14 for a packet of 4 + the jig head to go with them - the setups are more expensive and less indestructible than the ledger rig outfits we have and whilst breakages are rare you need to know that you are liable if you cause the damage or loss through mis-handling. Soft bait fishing is great fun and can be more effective on some days than traditional bait fishing. We love introducing new people to this sport and carry 4 soft bait sets - spooled with 10 pound pink fire line braid -which is a comfortable number of people to be fishing simultaneously with this method as casting room is required. For more information on soft bait fishing see our soft bait page under our technical section.
For years until the introduction of soft baits, this was my favourite form of Snapper fishing from home just south of the Bay Of Islands at Oakura Bay on the road to Russell. Stray lining is great sport and particularly effective at fishing shallower areas around evening and into the dark though can also produce fantastic results during the daytime. If you take an overnight charter with us then this is the method of fishing you will use. We carry 5 stray line setups 1 overhead Daiwa and four fixed spool setups which consist primarily of Shimano bait runner reels spooled with 10kg nylon which is a good line weight to be using around rocks and weed in shallow water. To this we add 6 feet of 30 pound fluorocarbon and a single hook rig generally which the bait is attached to. When stray lining we will use burley when anchored which attracts the fish to the area. The bigger ones are generally shyer and hold further away from the boat and hence require a longer cast. When stray lining at night we always anchor and sometimes during the daytime we may anchor as well, though there are other times that we still drift fish as well, particularly when the snapper are schooling and often in this situation we will add a small running ball sinker immediately on top of the hook.