The Coromandel Peninsula, without a doubt my favorite part of the country and my preferred destination for fishing adventures, especially solo ones. I spend a lot of my free time rolling solo around these parts, not much else compares to it. Whether it be land based or kayak fishing, it's proper peace and quiet. Moving around at your own pace, thinking and acting precisely, these trips have been some of my most memorable.There is never any hesitation to take a mental health day and head up there for a long weekend, so when I saw the FC Soft Bait Champs were about to go down, with it's unique competition format and an epic long range forecast, it was another no brainer, I was heading for the upper West Side.
The snapper fishing up there is pretty notorious, especially around April. The fish are aggressive, feeding hard to put on condition before the winter months, and they are keen to smash on your softbaits. It is common to find schools of big 50-70cm snapper around the inner reefs from as shallow as 6 meters, making it prime time to be fishing from a kayak. Over the two days I had up there I found much of this to be true, experiencing some amazing fishing just a stones throw from where I parked my ute in only 7-10 meters of water.
The first day was one out of the box, 0-5 knots breeze, oily calm sea, and the Snaps were going ape shit. Must have caught a hot morning bite because nearly every cast was taken on the drop, for a while the average size of these fish was between 6 to 8lb, amongst them a few bigger fish 10 to 12lb, most of them being released from the net as they were to big to be registered in the competition. There was a bit of foul language thrown about after losing the battle to an absolute stonker, dropping it rite under the kayak after what felt like a good 5 minute scrap, keeping in mind this was all taking place in 7 meters of water. The fishing pretty much carried on like that most of the day, and I could have made tracks home feeling more than content, but there was the whole next day doing the same.
The second day wasn't to be so sweet. I arrived at the spot before sun up to find a dirty Southwesterly had kicked up the sea, and true to the old adage "when the wind blow's from the south, the fish close their mouth", the fishing was slow. The buggers weren't being very cooperative at all actually. The morning bite again produced a few good fish around 500mm, but it died off quickly and never seemed to fire up again. It's easy to become frustrated when things get like that, especially when competition fishing, but all you need to do is take a look at where you are and soak in the dramatic landscape to keep it all in perspective. We are extremely fortunate after all, not many places you can park up on the beach, paddle out fifty meters and enjoy world class fishing, and since the fish weren't biting I thought it ain't no thang to paddle in for a cheese toasty, a hot cuppa and some reassessment .
I found the fish again later in the day after a mad dash further up the coast to another spot I had, I guess a bit of luck? and a lot of perseverance had me heading for home with a healthy bin full of snapper. Bin full of fish or not though, you never leave here without a grin on your chin, especially when you have the late afternoon sun on your face, and a cheeky coldy in hand. Winning a brand new kayak was a nice bonus as well I must say. Shakas out the window all the way home!! No trip up there is complete though, without stopping for 'Da Fisho Burger' in Coro town, and munching it down at the lookout spot above Whangapoua, reflection time.X