Fishing: Bag of crays an added Waiheke bonus

By Geoff Thomas

Kahawai make excellent sashimi or marinated fish, are great smoked, and also in fish cakes with onion and herbs. Picture / Geoff Thomas
Kahawai make excellent sashimi or marinated fish, are great smoked, and also in fish cakes with onion and herbs. Picture / Geoff Thomas

Some rare settled weather last weekend allowed boats to venture out into the Hauraki Gulf in search of work-ups, with some good results.

They can be found anywhere from east of Tiritiri Matangi Island to Great Barrier Island, and a pair of good binoculars is a valuable asset to have on the boat.

The area from Flat Rock to Little Barrier Island is also worth checking for those heading out from Gulf Harbour, Sandspit or Leigh.

Some good kingfish are also being reported from the bottom end of Waiheke Island and off Cuvier Island, and straylining in close with plenty of berley is also producing some action. The other attraction off Waiheke is a bonus for divers, with crayfish reported to be on the march from the bottom end out into the Firth of Thames. They were in 20 metres of water, and for any divers coming across this rare phenomenon, it is not hard securing their bag of six crays.

Kingfish to 15kg have been taken from the deep pinnacle inside Gannet Rock, drifting over the pin with jigs or live baits.

The sea temperatures are colder than at this time last year, with water down to 12 degrees. This slows the fishing, but hopefully that is as cold as it gets this year.

Snapper to 3kg are reported from the foul in Islington Bay at Rangitoto Island, casting floating baits down a berley trail.

Large tarakihi are being taken in 50 metres out of Pakiri Beach, so there are plenty of options for those wanting to brave the winter conditions.

Kahawai are thick in the Manukau Harbour and can be a nuisance when trying to drop baits for gurnard. "One solution is to do away with bright flashers and go back to ledger rigs with plain recurved hooks baited with chunks of dark skippy or kahawai," advised one seasoned Manukau fisherman.

Reports from Thames indicate fishing has been hard on the west coast of the Coromandel Peninsula.

The snapper are there, but they feed for only a short time in the cold temperatures.

A hapuku weighing 19kg caught out off Great Barrier was found to have a hook in its stomach. The hook had rusted out and was surrounded by a ball of gristle, but the fish was reported to be in good condition; which adds evidence to the value of releasing fish even if they have a hook deep in the guts. Just cut the line close to the mouth.

Trevally up to 8kg are being taken in the Northland harbours, and land-based anglers are catching some big snapper from the rocks. The fish follow crayfish into the shallows, and a fresh jack mackerel bait works well when floated out among the kelp.

The same approach is paying dividends at Little Barrier and Great Barrier Islands and the Horn Rock reef, where snapper to 8kg can be taken from the shallows when the weather allows boats to get out.

Snapper fishing has become patchy in the Bay of Plenty, but a nice albacore of 18.4kg was taken while trolling about halfway between Whakatane and White Island. Surfcasters and those sending out torpedoes with long-lines are doing well off beaches along the bay coast, with school snapper and gurnard the main catch; and fishing with a fire on the beach is a pleasant way to spend an evening.

The broadbill swordfish fishery off the northern coast will come to an end this month as the fish migrate to warm tropical waters to spawn.


The Rotorua lakes are all extremely high, and there is some good fly fishing along the shore of Lake Rerewhakaaitu but a dinghy is useful for reaching good spots. At Lake Taupo, the trout are in good condition, with a lot in the 45-50cm range.

Trollers on the lake early in the morning are catching fish, but the best time to be on the water is when a low pressure system arrives, which is quite common at present.

Tip of the week

Kahawai are underrated when it comes to eating. Like all fish, they should be kept on ice when caught, and many anglers believe in bleeding them by slicing the wrist of the tail, or the throat. Their fillets can be treated like any white-fleshed fish and gently pan-fried.

Bite times

Bite times today are 7.45am and 8.10pm, and tomorrow at 8.30am and 9pm. These are based on the moon phase and position, not tides, so apply to the whole country. More fishing action can be found at

- NZ Herald

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