By James Goodall
, SPEARO ADDICTS NZ
Most spearfishermen dream of shooting a big snapper (the 20lb mark). Well I was one of these lucky people.
Some mates had organised a mid-winter spearfishing trip to the far north of New Zealand and had invited me along with them. The destination was Doubtless Bay on the East coast of Northland. The lads had been up there the previous year and had a cracker of a trip spearing snapper over the 17lb mark and of course this got me excited as we were heading up around the same time again this year.
The plan was to head up on Friday afternoon from Auckland and return on the Monday with the hope of bringing back some fish.
We arrived at the batch around 7pm what an amazing batch it was, it had all the essential needs of a spearfishing trip from a BBQ to filleting tables and plenty of sleeping space.
We woke up as early as we could without being too ridiculous as it is winter and getting into a cold wetsuit isn’t the most pleasant thing to do. We had made it to the boat ramp and launched our two boats, a thunder cat and taka cat fitted with two small “buildupz bins” for “all the fish we were going to get”. After a few engine problems with one of the boats we were on the water around 9 am ready enjoy the beautiful weather Northland had put on for us.
We headed up the coast searching for a nice sheltered spot from the swell but with enough current flow for our ground baits to send a trail. Once anchored we split up and I found a good ledge around 4m deep and dropped to roughly 6-8m. It had plenty of cover to hide behind, loads of Kina and a shingle bottom next to a deep gut. I set to work and set a decent sized burley before proceeding back to the boat to find some crays for dinner.
My mate Neil had cracked a John Dory right under the parked boats after tossing some bread in the water from their lunch “who would of thought” just goes to show always look under you boat. While the burley was hopefully enticing in some big Northland Snapper, me and Jack set off on a cray hunt finding a couple of nice eaters and fluffing up a 1.5 - 2 kg cray, but there was always tomorrow.
After letting the burley do its thing for a few hours I decided to go check it (this was roughly 1pm) I slowly crept over the ledge using all the silent techniques possible, only to be disappointed by a few lazy 1kg snapper having a feed. So I reset the burley thinking this was a waste of time but I’ll do it anyway. After another 2-3 hours roughly 4 pm I decided to give the ledge one more crack before we had to leave as the sun was starting to set. I crept over the ledge once again holding onto the weeds to anchor me down, this time not expecting much. As I peered over the ledge I was met by half a dozen big Snapper, definitely a new pb, if i could land a shot. I decided to slowly swim back from the ledge and have another attempt with the best approach possible. I breathed up trying to control my excitement and focus on the task in hand and make my approach. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, a nice fatty charged in on the burley straight below me putting me in its blind-spot, I aimed and shot. The snapper sank to the floor “you beauty“. Later that day it came in at 7kg a new pb, very happy with the fish and it showed me perseverance pays off.
The next day we anchored in roughly the same spot, due to the success from the previous day, (and I really wanted that crayfish). As I didn’t have to spend time looking for a good ledge I headed straight to the ledge I had found yesterday hoping to have more success. I wasn’t mucking around this time and had set a massive burley by about 10 am. I swam back to the cave I had found the cray in and took the cray hook this time and managed to get him out of his hole. I thought sweet a nice cray, all I need now is a big Snapper “if only it was that easy".
I climbed onto the boat and had some lunch trying to kill time, at about mid day I went to check the burley doing the same as the previous day being as quiet as possible. As I glided down onto the ledge the burley looked dead, there was nothing, no blues, no baitfish. nothing! I thought it was going to be a repeat until I saw a giant tail behind some weed below me and my heart started going. The beast slowly turned away and headed away from me, before turning back and cruising back into the burley. I pushed off the ledge with my 120 Rob Allen aimed and hoped for the best, “stoned em” the beast rolled over and twitched on the ground. I couldn’t believe the size of the thing in my hands, an awesome feeling! It tipped over the scales at 10.24 kg, 22.5 lbs of Far North Snapper! Another pb that I won’t be beating for a while.
Follow James' adventures at Spearo Addicts NZ on Facebook here >>
Check out his Vimeo Page here >>