Geoff Thomas: Hungry orca put on ray-catching demo

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Photo / Herald on Sunday
Photo / Herald on Sunday

A group of about 25 orca entertained people fishing on the Manukau Harbour recently. The orca were catching stingrays and tossing them in the air and catching them.

One angler noticed young orca taking part and wondered whether it was how the adults teach youngsters how to hunt. Rays are a favourite food of orca which are often seen in harbours chasing them into the shallows. The rays are probably like the equivalent of potato crisps to the big mammals.

Long-time Manukau fisherman John Moran has commented on the clarity of the water in the harbour this year. "It has been getting better and better, and I have never seen it so clear," he said.

Moran also said people were noticing more john dory turning up in the harbour. Some are hooked by accident while fishing for snapper or gurnard, but they can be targeted by dropping a small live bait such as jack mackerel. "They are even being caught in the Papakura Channel which has very strong currents, and they are poor swimmers."

Moran said he did not agree with the suggestion in the column recently that when fishing for gurnard on the Kaipara Harbour the flasher rig is weighted at both ends so it lies on the bottom.

"We have always had more success with baits fished well above the bottom. I have my bottom hook 750mm up from the sinker and we fish the rig normally with a sinker on the bottom. Gurnard have eyes in the top of their head like stargazers and can look up to see their food. In fact we catch most of them on the top hook.

"But it's also true that different techniques work in different harbours, and that is how they do it on the Kaipara and it obviously works. In Hawkes Bay they fish for gurnard with a running rig and a ball sinker and trevally bait."

He also said that a kite fisherman on Kariotahi Beach noticed other people fishing where the water was dirty, and he drove along the beach until he found some clean water and set his long-line with 25 hooks using his kite to take it out. "In one set he pulled in seven snapper, eight gurnard of about a kilo each and a kahawai."

Fishing on the other coast has been good on the northern side of Rangitoto Island and the seaward side of Kawau Island, and in the mid-to-outer Hauraki Gulf. Reefs like Flat Rock and the deep reef between that rock and Kawau are reported to be holding fish. As water temperatures drop more people are using bait rather than soft plastics, and kahawai appear to have moved out of the inshore waters.

Some large kingfish can be found in the outer gulf but the schools of smaller fish have moved to deep water.

Fish and Game in Rotorua believe the trout which died in the Te Wairoa Stream may have been killed by an algal bloom in the Lake Rotokakai (Green Lake), where the stream originates. "It was a Tuesday night just before dark two weeks ago and the fishermen fishing the rip where the stream runs into Lake Tarawera noticed the water suddenly turn green," said manager Rob Pitkethly.

"The rip was basically unfishable. We found dead trout in the stream above the trap and in the trap. Over 200 fish had gone through the trap and we believe about 70 per cent were killed.

"It appears there was an algal bloom on the surface of the Green Lake and it was blown into the stream and a big slug of algae came down the stream. It seems likely there was a massive drop in oxygen, or the algae blocked their gills.

"The scientists are investigating and we hope to have the answers soon."

A further 150 trout had since run through the trap and Fish and Game had successfully taken the eggs from trout in the trap, so the spawning season would still be successful.

Pitkethly said the biggest trout weighed at the trap was 4.4kg. "There was a late run of smelt in all of the lakes and the trout are in very good condition."

Heavy rain had helped the shoreline fly fishermen but some frosts would help improve the fishing.

* More fishing action can be found on Rheem Outdoors with Geoff, 5pm on TV3, and on the internet television channel FishnHunt.Tv.

- NZ Herald

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