The mackerel have turned up in big numbers along the East Coast, from Omaha all the way down to Waihi. They school up in the shallows in massive numbers, I think to spawn or feed on some source of food. The predator fish are not far behind and close in to keep the bait concentrated so they can feed hard over the winter months. Everything has turned up for their share of the bait schools, in particular some good sized winter kingfish and snapper.
My wife Karen and I set out from Whangapoua in high hopes of finding the mackerel that make their way in every year. After about an hour of cruising the coastline, the sounder revealed the screenshot we were looking for: a dense pack of mackerels sitting over a sandy bottom in shallow water. It was the perfect time to bring out the light tackle gear and fish my all time favourite.
With the fish being in the shallows, they are very shy and almost become impossible to catch if they hear any motor noise. Once we are close to the area, we turn off the motor and lower the Minn-Kota and slowly sneak into the school of mackerel, then spot lock (which is a GPS anchor that holds us in the same spot silently over the school). We leave the sounder going, making sure to stay above the bait and if they move we can slowly move with them and then spot lock once they have settled.
It’s a very cool way of fishing with lots and lots of hook ups with long fights on the lighter gear. All you do is sit in the middle of the school and cast your baits over to the edge and wait for a hook up.
Karen loves her fishing and being 7 months pregnant doesn't stop her picking up a rod. As the action got hot, she couldn't resist casting a live mackerel and sure enough, she hooked up and landed a solid king. I was stoked!
Thanks to the mackerel we have had some amazing day's fishing, hooking up to kingfish, snapper and john dory. I just wish the mackerel would stay forever, but I will say they are almost on their way out, and we will have to wait till next year
Once the bait moves off, we should see the Kings move back out into deeper water, and the stickbaiting on the outer islands should fire up.