Ocean Rhythms, May 19

Half way through Autumn, traditionally the season surfers and ocean lovers live for, and the surf has been less than stellar. ‘Phenomenally underwhelming’ might be the best way to put it. We are yet to experience a significant swell and the poor state of the sand banks remains entrenched. We’ve moved into a cool, showery phase which is typical autumn weather, typical autumn weather that typically brings a lot of surf. Unfortunately a classic surf pattern continues to elude us. Small surf has been the order of the day. Great for kids.

Pressure gradients in the swell-generating regions of the Tasman sea and near South Pacific remain weak. The lack of surf from the SE and S means longshore drift, which moves sand into position on the points has been absent, and thus deep holes and wide banks left over from Cyclone Oma remain as the status quo.

At time of writing another round of medium to long range E swell is on the cards as a large high establishes in New Zealand longitudes. East swells are great if the banks are in good order but if not it’s back to scrapping around in close-out beachies, which has been the script for the last six months with rare exceptions. The ray of hope is the warm water pooled in the lower Tasman sea remains fully formed and offers the potential for any East Coast Lows (ECL) to undergo explosive development if suitable conditions prevail. The last time similar conditions reigned, in 2007, we had an unbelievable winter with numerous ECLs offering high quality swells. That was the famous Pasha Bulker winter. 

The generally calm conditions have been prime for small boats to fish the close reefs for mackerel and a few good sessions have gone down, with spotties more prevalent than barries. Those fish have mostly stayed wide of the rock platforms with some solid tailor chasing garfish on offer for those who can get a bait or lure into the right spot at the right time. They haven’t been thick but they have been of good quality. Longtail tuna have also been terrorising the garfish in close but are hard to connect with. Yours truly has flogged the water to foam and is yet to get a hook-up this season. Summer species like whiting and dart are still around in the inshore gutters and a rising tide from a mid afternoon low is prime. That’s all for now. Pray for surf and see you next month.

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