Fishing: Marlin, bronzies among big fish cruising in Gulf

By Geoff Thomas

A tool for grasping the lips will hold a fish like this kingfish while the hook is removed. Picture / Geoff Thomas
A tool for grasping the lips will hold a fish like this kingfish while the hook is removed. Picture / Geoff Thomas

Game fish are being hooked in the Hauraki Gulf. One party hooked a black marlin on a live bait set for kingfish at Anchorite Rock and fought it for two hours before it broke off.

A 25kg yellowfin tuna was caught in the Firth of Thames, and skipjack tuna can be found there too. Sharks are very common, with small mako sharks as well as large bronze whalers right through the gulf and the firth.

The bronze whalers are large females which come inshore to give birth, and they will travel right up to the headwaters of harbours such as the Waitemata, Tauranga, Manukau and Kaipara Harbours.

"Bronzies" are officially seen as game fish and recognised as man-eaters in other parts of the world, but in New Zealand they are not known to bother swimmers because there is so much natural food for them. Every six hours the tide carries a smorgasbord of fish past these natural predators.

Two large kingfish came from the top end of the Coromandel Peninsula last weekend - one weighing 32kg and the other 36kg.

Large kahawai are providing a lot of sport for anglers everywhere and readily take both lures and baits. The best snapper fishing is in the firth too.

Gurnard are making a comeback in the gulf, and good-sized fish can be found at 40m between the D'Urville Rocks and Gannet Rock.

They will be welcome, as many people see gurnard as better table fish than snapper. They are easily filleted and can be cooked with the skin on which keeps the layer of fat and juices under the skin, adding to the flavour.

Trevally are also turning up off Park Pt, near Waiheke Island.

This should be a good weekend for fishing after the blow during the week. Fish can detect changes in the weather through their swim bladder which is sensitive to changes in the barometric pressure, and will feed actively before and after a storm. Fishing the shallows while the water is still stirred up and murky can be good.

But small snapper and kingfish are also plaguing fishermen at the moment, and while it is good for the future it can be frustrating. One solution is to keep moving, trying different spots and, more importantly, different depths. Changing the approach can also help, like using fresh kahawai or yellowtail for bait which will deter the little pickers. Lures like slow jigs and soft baits tend to target bigger fish, so this is another option.

But when small fish are brought to the surface, the way they are treated will influence their chance of survival.

For example, a snapper's eyes were not designed to be exposed to bright sunlight so keeping them in the water is a good start. The hook can be flicked out with long-nosed pliers and the fish released without touching it.

Dry hands can damage the coating of slime which protects the skin from infection, so if a fish must be picked up a wet towel or at least wet hands should be used. A fish slipped gently into the water will be in better shape than one which is tossed into the air.

Squeezing fish to grasp them can damage their internal organs.

Most of this involves common sense, but it is always disappointing to see how some people treat fish which are being returned to the water.

The shallows is still fishing better than the deep channels, but this type of fishing is more specialised than dropping baits to the bottom in a channel. Noise is a factor. Small boats are better suited than launches, and light line on spin reels with tiny sinkers is the best tackle to use.

Fishing the shallows at dawn or dusk is preferable to bright sunlight, and berley always boosts the chances.

Spots to look for are areas of rocky foul, with guts leading out to deeper water. These are the "highways" fish will use to move around, and potential fishing spots can be checked at low tide when reefs are exposed, or by jumping over the side with a snorkel and goggles and looking around.

Keeping in touch with the bait is important, as it can sink into the weeds or be pulled into rocky crevices by small fish if left to lie on the bottom. A slow-moving bait often works better than a stationary one, so raising the rod now and then is good.


Jigging on Lake Rotoiti is still producing some big fish, including a nice rainbow of 4.2kg from the west bank.

The hole at Vercoes is also offering action. On Lake Tarawera a lot of the trout are feeding on bullies rather than smelt, so a brown fly jigged close to the shore where bullies are more common will be worth trying.

The mouth of the Waiteti Stream on Lake Rotorua is fishing well with some good browns coming from fishing deep over the drop-off late at night. This can be reached by wading out to the marker buoys, and a large brown fly at night and small nymphs are working. A black nymph and hare and copper can be used in daytime.

- NZ Herald

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