It is a question of guile over strength

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  • On the Hunt: a fisherman makes his way through Sandy Mount East, Baileys Bay (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

    On the Hunt: a fisherman makes his way through Sandy Mount East, Baileys Bay (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)


The weather is having difficulties making the usual seasonal transition from summer to winter. After all, there really isn’t autumn here — it cools off and becomes the sort of summer most people dream about.

Then, boom, in comes winter as the northerly gales howl and the temperatures plummet sending the fashionistas into the latest winter wardrobes.

This year the tropical/sub-tropical pattern continues to tease the island as yet another depression makes up its mind whether to turn into a full-fledged storm, or merely to bucket down tonnes of rain on whatever happens to be in its path.

The presence of just such a system between here and the mainland will pretty much ensure that the amateur fleet misses out on another weekend that might otherwise have presented opportunities. Not that a whole lot is being missed.

Although reports of offshore activity from the commercial side of things is skimpy due to the lobster traps and their being re-sited is foremost in most operators minds, there is a bit of information available.

First off, the water is, for want of a better word, cloudy. The passage of the hurricane stirred up lots of sediment, sand and whatever else and did a great job of mixing it.

This leads to the sort of water discolouration that deters most fishermen and probably the fish themselves.

Although this will settle down, any continued heavy weather just exacerbates the situation, and prolongs the process. Reports earlier this week even had the waters around the Banks as less than the deep blue that they usually are.

The perception that the Banks are the “deep sea” is a bit misleading. Basically the “sea” there is only about a couple of hundred feet deep, and when the ocean decides to go into motion stirring things up from that depth is no big deal.

And it should be pretty obvious: the weekend weather forecast is not something to engender nay warm and fuzzy ideas about an idyllic cruise out on the briny. Nor has this past week’s fishing report inspired anyone.

There may have been the odd wahoo caught offshore, but no one in their right mind is going to brave rough waters on such an off-chance. So what might better occupy the shore-bound angler?

The answer is a species largely neglected but one readily available in most any weather, provided the cooling water has not sent them offshore. This is the grey snapper. Oh yes, it can be a challenge, but a few anglers took advantage of the recent full moon and the fact that the snappers have not yet departed for their wintering grounds to reward themselves with some rather nice fillets.

Not just one or two fish but anything up to about a dozen.

Although not everyone’s favourite, the grey snapper makes for a good eating fish and while they put up enough of a battle to make it into the gamefish category, the tackle used to catch them is usually far from sporting. In fact, the people who really have success snapper fishing usually use handlines.

There is no doubt at all that grey snappers, a.k.a. “grey dogs” are cagey fish. The really big ones are nigh on impossible to catch, but the smaller ones can and do make mistakes. It is also a good idea to try and pick a spot where they have been well-fed, but not subjected to many attempts to catch them.

Some of the docks and pilings around the islands in the Great Sound are good spots as well as other areas that have been neglected for a while.

As with most things a bit of experience goes a long way in educating the fish to man’s wiles, and the survivors are indeed wary customers. It is a game of guile rather than strength.

Night fishing during a full moon is probably when they are most vulnerable but darker nights work as well. Fresh bait is almost a must with the fish having a predilection for fry.

Chumming to get them excited and in feeding mode is a must — wait for the dark line through the eye to show. Then, with a bit of luck and a lot of patience, it is possible to catch this species although the lunkers will probably never expose themselves to a hook again.

Settle for the more average one to three pounder who will, when enraged by greed, latch on to a well-baited hook.

During the day apparently some artificial lures can work. While the fish will often follow a lure, it seems that they are never quite fooled enough to bite, but, maybe someone can make it happen.

Otherwise, it looks like another weekend at home on land. It might be time to think about winterising tackle or clearing up any mess on the boat.

At least, while doing something like that, you might be able to imagine yourself on the end of some Tight Lines!

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Published Oct 22, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated Oct 21, 2016 at 9:00 pm)

It is a question of guile over strength

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