Spare a thought for contenders with the lightest line

By Geoff Thomas

There will be people chasing fish all around the country today as the annual Nationals Tournament goes into its last day after an intense week.

With the emphasis on fishing with ultra-light line, consideration for other boaties and anglers becomes even more important than usual.

There is a group of anglers from the Big Fish Fishing Club in Pakuranga who specialise in this type of fishing, and two days ago the Big Fish team was leading the kahawai section and running third in the snapper section. They fish with the lightest possible line, which is 1kg breaking strain, and sometimes use 2kg line.

They have been catching snapper at Matiatia and kahawai at the Pakatoa Reef, and one angler was playing a kingfish on 1kg line, which is a serious challenge.

After an hour and a half they were getting the fish under control when some other fishermen in a tinny came by to have a look - and ran over the line, cutting off the kingfish. The resulting reaction and language can only be imagined, as such a catch would have earned a prize-winning place in the contest.

The tournament is divided into sections by species, covering tuna, sharks, marlin, trevally, kahawai, kingfish and snapper; and while smaller game fish such as kahawai and snapper, trevally and kingfish can be caught around Auckland, some anglers who specialise in land-based fishing do well from the rocks.

They might travel to Great Barrier Island or the top of the Coromandel Peninsula to fish, and reports indicate good numbers of large snapper in the Colville Channel, with 7-8kg fish common.

Other game fishermen concentrate on fishing for marlin and sharks, and teams fishing in Hawkes Bay and off the Manukau Harbour always do well. The traditional marlin fishing grounds off Northland are popular, and a team from the Bay of Islands was leading the marlin section two days ago.

Jigging on Lake Rotoiti is hot and fly-fishing at Hamurana Stream mouth has also been good this week in the northerly conditions.

Two large trout have been reported recently, one weighing 5.5kg from Lake Okataina and another of 6.2kg from Lake Tarawera, which was caught jigging. This style of fishing is becoming popular, and is like hunting in that locating the fish is the key. Positioning the boat over the trout or schools of smelt which show up on the fish finder, and holding it there while the gear is dropped, is just as important.

The most common rig has a sinker on the bottom and three trout flies spread over about 2m of trace, and small flies seem to work better than large patterns, with silver smelt imitations used more than dark flies.

In the hands of an expert, it can be productive, with large numbers of fish caught and released.

But traditional methods, like deep trolling during the day and harling in the mornings and evenings, will always catch fish on the lakes. Wading and fly-fishing at shallow stream mouths like Hamurana produces fish, particularly in the warm conditions of the past week.

Night fishing at stream mouths is always popular, and Twin Creeks on Lake Tarawera is one spot that can fish well during summer.

Figures from the International Game Fish Association in Florida showed that in 2010, 10 million anglers made more than 71 million marine recreational fishing trips in Alaska and Hawaii, catching an estimated 357 million fish, of which 60 per cent were released alive.

Total worldwide fishery landings continue to increase, and the largest increase in price was for bluefin tuna, which increased by 96 per cent. The top three nations for commercial fishery landings were China, with 34 per cent of the total, and India and Peru, with 5 per cent each of total fish landed.

Small pelagic fish species such as mackerel, anchovies, sardines and pilchards make up the largest species group caught commercially, with 27.3 million tonnes, or 29.7 per cent of total landings.

Of about 30,700 species of fish which have been identified in the world, 16,928 species are threatened with extinction. Of these, 3246 are critically endangered, 4770 are endangered and 8912 are listed as vulnerable. In the North Atlantic, the total annual commercial catch of blue sharks is 84,000 tonnes, of which 57,000 tonnes are released and 20,000 tonnes discarded dead.

More outdoor action can be seen on Rheem Outdoors with Geoff, at 5.30pm on TV3 tonight, and on the internet television channel www.FishnHunt.Tv

- NZ Herald

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