Fishing: Hottest game season for years is lingering on

By Geoff Thomas

Kingfish are being caught from wharves on Manukau Harbour, like Cornwallis Wharf. Photo / Geoff Thomas
Kingfish are being caught from wharves on Manukau Harbour, like Cornwallis Wharf. Photo / Geoff Thomas

A marlin was caught off Mokau, in Taranaki, two weeks ago, capping the biggest season seen off the west coast. In New Plymouth, 380 marlin were recorded at the sport fishing club, and with catches by visitors from out of town, the total is reckoned to be well over 500 for the summer.

A welcome abundance of yellowfin tuna was another high point of the season around the North Island.

The hot game fishing has been attributed to the exceptionally warm ocean currents which swept down both coasts, with water temperatures reaching 26C in places.

Marlin, tuna and sharks visit our waters every summer but in some seasons, the warm currents are too far offshore for game fishermen to reach them. So the fishing varies widely from year to year.

But snapper fishing continues in all areas, topping off a summer which saw fishing start later than usual but continue longer. However, the first touch of cold weather this week will undoubtedly slow things down as snapper move out from the shallows, which cool faster than the deep water.

Harbours have been fishing well, from Northland to Tauranga, and on the Manukau Harbour snapper up to 12kg have been reported from the south channel inside the bar. Another monster was caught off French Bay, and gurnard are starting to show up.

Kingfish are also providing some hot action around the jetties and wharves like those on the south side of the harbour at Pollock and Matakawau. The kings are chasing bait fish like sprats and piper, and a small fish cast out just before high tide can grab the attention of the powerful predators which come sweeping past.

The upper Waitemata Harbour is still producing fish, drifting with baits or soft plastics in 3m to 6m of water. The foul between Browns and Motuihe Islands and the Devonport edge of the Rangitoto Channel are still holding fish but it is case of being on the water at first light.

Similar stories are coming from the Kawakawa Bay area where there are good numbers of fish in the shallows all the way from Clevedon to Orere Pt. Again, an early start is wise, with large amounts of berley and lightly weighted baits cast well back from the boat. The same approach is working along the foreshore of Rangitoto Island, the usual winter style of fishing. In fact, it is worth checking all reefs and small islands, fishing the channels in between the weed and rocks. Fishing is even better further out in the Hauraki Gulf, and fishing around Little Barrier Island is as good as it gets. Snapper up to 5kg can be found in 45m by looking for rubble on the bottom or a contour line on the chart and drifting and bottom bouncing with baits or lures.

In the Bay of Plenty, the fishing has also picked up, and one feature has been the number of broadbill swordfish caught out of Tauranga, with three weighed a week ago.

Freshwater

Heavy rain and a changing barometer put a smile on the faces of fly fishers in Rotorua and Taupo. Whether in fresh or salt water, all fish become more active as the barometer moves up or down, and the shoreline fly fishing received a boost with last week's stormy weather. But it is still earlyfor spawning trout and the full moon tomorrow will make fishing harder.

Tip of the week

Piper can be caught on tiny hooks on a very light line, with a float about 50cm above the hook. They will take a bait like a scrap of the shiny belly from a pilchard, or can be netted from the shore by throwing bread or berley into the shallows and running a bait around them. A small live-bait hook inserted by the wrist of the tail is the best way to rig a live piper and cast it out under a float like a balloon. Dead piper can be rigged for kingfish by pushing the hook through the skull and securing the bill with a rubber band around the bill and the leader. It can then be cast and retrieved like a lure and kings love them. If casting distance is needed, a small ball sinker can be added so it slides down on to the bill, and the point of the bill can be pushed into the hole in the sinker.

Bite times

Bite times today are 11.40am and tomorrow at 12.05am and 12.30pm. These are based on the moon phase and position, not tides, so apply to the whole country. More fishing action can be found on Rheem Outdoors with Geoff, 6.30am Saturdays, TV3, and at www.GTtackle.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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