Geoff Thomas
Geoff Thomas on fishing

Geoff Thomas: Showtime on the coast as the marlin come to town

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Although snapper fishing may be patchy, this summer has been all about marlin fishing, with the Sky Tower in the background.

It has been a perfect season for the west coast in terms of weather, with continuous easterly and northerly winds producing ideal conditions for the west coast.

When combined with marlin turning on a sideshow that has anglers drooling, it doesn't get any better. In many cases the fishermen are home by lunchtime with a marlin on the back of their trailer boat, enjoying a cold drink while spreading the word.

A week ago, packs of striped marlin were herding schools of jack mackerel in water between 80m and 100m off Piha and Karekare, which is really quite close, and the sight of a dozen marlin shepherding the bait fish like sea wolves is a rare one in the world of game fishing. But this was happening almost in sight of the city, and some anglers were catching their first billfish on their first time out fishing for them.

The marlin will take lures trolled around the action, but a live bait is hard to beat. It is a question of jigging some live mackerel on sabiki flies, and dropping them back down with a small game hook through the skin on the back.

It has been a stellar season all down the west coast, and most of the fishing is done from trailer boats which are launched off beaches such as Muriwai and Piha, or from harbours such as Raglan, Kaipara, Manukau and Hokianga. At New Plymouth, there is a strong game club and vessels go out from the city, often finding action with the city in the background.

Fishing the west coast is about being able to get out, and as westerlies are the prevailing winds, fishing is ruled out most of the time. This year has been the exception, and keen anglers have been making the most of it.

They can also find good fishing for snapper, kahawai, kingfish and, further offshore, hapuku. While the bottom fishing has not been great, the marlin have more than made up for the lack of snapper.

Small tuna lures can also be trolled in conjunction with marlin gear, as there are plenty of skipjack and albacore tuna off the coast. These are good baits fished whole for marlin, although they do attract sharks, and as cut bait for bottom fishing.

The small tuna also make fine eating if bled and put on ice as soon as they are caught. They can be marinated and cooked like a steak, cut into cubes and rolled in breadcrumbs and pan fried, or converted to sashimi. The dark red meat should be trimmed and discarded as this carries the rich blood vessels which deliver the energy for these speedsters of the ocean, and has a strong flavour.

•The Rodd and Gunn Oceania Fly Fishing Championships are being held this weekend out of Rotorua, with two teams of five anglers each from New Zealand and Australia and a world team, totalling 25 anglers. They will fish on two streams near Putaruru - the Waihou and Waimakariri streams - and on Lake Aniwhenua. They will fish for five sessions of three hours each, and points are scored for each fish over 18cm. All fish are released alive and barbless hooks must be used. The event ends with a dinner and prize-giving in Rotorua tonight.

The cold water stream mouths on Lake Rotorua have slowed right down as cool nights set in, but some large trout are being taken from Lakes Rotoiti and Okataina.

Jigging at Hinehopu and fly fishing at The Pipe are producing some fish, and a booby fly fished from an anchored boat at the Dogger Bank, at the southern end of Okataina, is working well. The usual technique is to anchor the boat at both ends to prevent it swinging in the wind, and cast out a fast sinking line over the drop-off with a short trace and a booby. It is then retrieved very slowly, in short jerks, with pauses between.

At Lake Taupo the better fishing is found at the small stream mouths and the Waitahanui Stream rip at night, where large brown trout can be hooked.

Bite times
Bite times today are 9.50am and 10.15pm, and tomorrow at 10.40am and 11pm. These are based on the moon phase and position, not tides, so apply to the whole country.

Tip of the week
When fishing for snapper, try drifting. This is always done when using soft baits or jigs, but also works well with baits. Sinkers must be heavy enough to keep the bait on the bottom and a short trace can be used with tough baits such as squid or mullet. The boat can be anchored if a patch of fish is encountered.

See more fishing action tonight on Rheem Outdoors with Geoff, 5.30pm, TV3.

- NZ Herald

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