Target tasty dory for an easy bite

By Geoff Thomas

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Live yellowtail mackerel on sturdy rig and line with good breaking strain all it takes to catch delicious fish.

Diver Peter Thomas speared his John Dory in Coromandel.
Diver Peter Thomas speared his John Dory in Coromandel.

There have been some bright spots on the fishing scene, with occasional bags of nice snapper reported. Whangaparaoa Bay, north of Red Beach, is holding good numbers of fish as is Tamaki Strait. However, juvenile snapper still predominate and anglers have to catch a lot of fish to score some big enough to eat.

The foul bottom in 10m-18m around the Rangitoto lighthouse has also been producing some good fish, and it is a question of working the dawn and dusk periods when the wind and tide are flowing together for the best results. Some of the best fishing of the season came from the Motuihe Channel on the Waiheke Island side last weekend, with snapper up to 4kg reported. Long traces or strayline rigs outfished flasher rigs on the incoming tide.

As water temperatures cool, fish should start feeding more actively as they move away from spawning mode and build up reserves for winter. But fishing has not been as consistent as in the past two summers, as the fish have not moved into inshore waters in large numbers.

One fish which can be easily targeted is the John Dory. It is an unusual creature, with a light brown mottled body designed for camouflage, and drifts slowly towards its prey which is a small fish. From end on it looks almost like a strand of seaweed, with a thin body, tall dorsal fin and tiny fins which propel it gently through the water.

When in range the dory extends its mouth which pushes out like a giant tube engulfing a huge mouthful of water including the hapless fish dinner. Dory are occasionally hooked by accident when they swallow a baby snapper which has been hooked. They love live yellowtail mackerel and it is just a question of putting over some tiny baited hooks or sabiki jig flies and then back-hooking a mackerel and dropping it back down. The hook should be small and on a sturdy rod spooled with at least 15kg line as big snapper, rays and kingfish also love yellowtails. The best rig to use is a trace of at least 20kg breaking strain with a heavy sinker on the bottom to anchor the small fish and prevent it swimming in circles and tangling other lines. The hook is attached to a loop about 30cm above the sinker, and when the bait is set the rod can be secured to a rail or rod holder up the side of the boat away from the main fishing area.

It should be left with a light drag and the clicker on so a strike will be heard.

John Dory are common around the North Island in depths from 10m to 100m, and grow to about 65cm and 3kg. They like to hang around any structure like weed beds, reefs and wharf piles. Drifting is a good way to target dory, and they also readily take metal jigs or soft baits.

Dory are popular with spear fishermen and can be stalked around the edges of weed beds, and one successful technique is to approach the fish from above to get into position for a shot without spooking the quarry.


Like farmers, trout anglers are hoping a drop in the barometric pressure accompanied by rain will spark some activity. Lakes are fishing well in the Rotorua and Taupo districts, but rivers and streams are harder as they are low and clear.

Deep trolling and jigging in the deep lakes is the best approach at this time of year, but as water temperatures cool trout can also be found around shallow drop-offs and over weed banks. Harling and fly fishing usually picks up from late March as trout become more active before spawning. Jigging at Humphreys Bay on Lake Tarawera has been productive, with green bodied grey ghost smelt patterns working well.

On Lake Rotoiti a ginger mick is another pattern which works on the jig tackle, and deep trolling also produced some nice fish last week including one rainbow of 4kg. Fly fishing at small stream mouths where they run into the lakes will be worth a look at the Waiiti Stream on Rotoiti, and Twin Creeks on Tarawera. Late at night with lumo glow flies, or at dawn with a Kilwell number one on a slow sinking line often does the trick at this time of year.

Tip of the week

With traces below a sinker the rule of thumb is that the stronger the current, the longer the trace. Conversely, on slack ride switch to a ledger rig.

Bite times

Bite times are 12.10pm tomorrow, and 12.30am and 12.55pm on Sunday, based on the phase and position of the moon, not tides. They apply to the whole country. More fishing action can be found on Rheem Outdoors with Geoff, 5pm Saturdays, TV3, and at

- NZ Herald

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