Tauranga Harbour has been good to us for the last few months. As expected the shallow water kingfish have put on a show, for the better part it’s been small poppers, savage topwater eats and happy clients. On the other hand there are always going to be days where things are tricky, with sloppy casts or strong fish winning the game for some reason or another. The nav markers are holding great fish at times, although they are resident fish and can tell any form of fishing style thrown at them with their eyes shut. Casting flies comes into its own here with a more subtle approach often winning the game, it’s just what happens after that you wish you had a PE10 set up with a locked drag to do battle with. Especially with some of the T-bone eats we’ve had that end in tears before you get your line back on the reel!
If you’re chasing the ray riders use a 2/0 popper, it has been my go to for months now as the kingfish are finding it hard to resist with the right retrieve. Double barrel popper heads are dynamite with a big acoustic profile, quick long drawn strips with a pause are killer for getting them to sound nice and appeal to the rat pack. The other fly of choice being a 1/0 natural coloured clouser, make the cast count, put it just ahead and inside the centerline of the rays path of travel. You’re aiming to trigger a peripheral bite, with the fly getting the kingfish’s attention upon touchdown, not the line and leader. If you can spot the fish on the ray wait until they return to the stingrays back, often they are locked into prey and race ahead of the ray, your cast will only line the backs of them and alert the kings to your presence.
The tuna are still a bit past our reach and haven’t had a look in due to all the flats work we’ve been doing, I hope to get out there soon and mix it up a little if the purse seiners haven't scooped them all up. There’s some big schools of Kahawai also feasting on anchovies both inside the harbour and out front around the inshore reefs and bays. These supercharged battlers make for hours of fun as it is, especially when there’s other predators in the mix also. Snapper are thick also, now’s the time to hit the harbour shallows for them, just on dark sees some hectic fishing as the sun dips and the fish come on the chew. Otherwise target some quieter waterways and keep your eyes peeled for them in the shallows.
As we turn the corner into autumn we expect the calmer Indian summer to keep on giving, there’s absolutely no need to put the tools down yet. The flats kick on well until late May, with fish being caught as late as the end of June. Some of the best conditioned fish will be gorging themselves in the lead up to winter and can put on epic battles as these nuggetty balls of muscle pull harder and fight well above their pay grade. There are select spots left for late March, parts of April and early May so if you want to come and scratch that salt fly itch get in touch with us below to secure your spot ASAP.