Kahawai have moved in close in good numbers and can be found by locating birds, and out wide in the Hauraki Gulf barracouta are still around which can be a problem for those using jigs or lures.

They are a fish not highly regarded as table fare - as in other parts of the world - but can be smoked, or used for bait and berley. They will disappear to deeper environs as water temperatures rise.

There are also large numbers of kahawai in the Manukau Harbour, and they can be targeted by sending out a berley trail and dropping flasher rigs. The occasional gurnard or snapper may also turn up as a bonus.

Kahawai will be the main target for hundreds of anglers next Saturday as they head out for the annual Kahawai King Fishing Contest, an event run by the Weymouth Cosmopolitan Club for the last 16 years.

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Fishing is restricted to the Waitemata Harbour chart 532, and the inner Manukau Harbour, for both boat and shore-based fishing, and fishing starts at midnight next Friday.

The $10,000 prize pool includes both cash and tackle prizes, and contestants may enter up to five kahawai over 300mm long.

Proceeds from the event will go to South Auckland's Health Kidz First programme. Donations of other fish will also be accepted, but there no prizes for other species; and all fish will be sold to raise funds.

There are also prizes for junior anglers, aged under 13, and tickets are available from the club in Manurewa and selected sports shops. The weigh-in will be held at the club from 4pm-5pm in the afternoon.

Kahawai are a highly prized fish which has been underrated in the past but is now more highly regarded for both its sporting and eating qualities.

They are widespread around the country and are easy to catch. In Australia, where they are popular, they are called salmon, a name which recognises their similarity to salmon.

Kahawai will take baits aimed at snapper and other fish, but because their main prey is small fish they will also respond to lures which resemble bait fish. Silver metal lures can be cast from rocks or wharves as well as a boat, and trolling lures is a popular method.

Boats can often be seen heading towards flocks of birds wheeling and diving as they feed on small fish which are forced to the surface while trying to escape the foraging predators, and the kahawai can be seen splashing on the surface.

But they can also be frustrating to anglers when they ignore their lures. The traditional kahawai lure is a plastic lure with double hooks which spins in the water, and this Smith's jig will catch fish. But not always.

The reason is the size of the lure. It is much bigger than the tiny whitebait-like silver fish which the kahawai are feeding on, and this is clearly seen when a netted fish spews up the bait fish it has just swallowed.

The answer is to take a leaf out of the trout angler's arsenal and "match the hatch". A smelt fly as used on the Rotorua and Taupo lakes will be instantly snatched up by the marauding kahawai.

It may be a silicon smelt, or a grey ghost pattern; but these flies have no weight and will just skim the surface when trolled behind the boat.

So a small sinker should be added above a swivel a couple of metres ahead of the fly, and the leader should be lighter weight than the main line, as in trout fishing. But this rig does not work well on heavy snapper tackle, and is best fished on a light spin rod.

A soft-bait outfit is ideal in this situation, but the braid line will have no stretch and is unforgiving when a lively kahawai is bouncing around on the other end, so the trout fisher's angling skills need to be applied.

With the drag on the reel set so the fish can take line without breaking the leader, it becomes a question of using the rod and reel in combination, raising the rod and winding in line as it is lowered. This is actually what the tackle is designed to do, and such fishing experiences will improve the user's angling skills.

And when the fish is finally tired and brought to the boat a net should be employed - you can't lift a fish over the side on such gear without risking a breakage.

Snapper fishing is improving slowly and there have been reasonable snapper coming from the Ahahaa Rocks, straylining down a berley trail.

There are some good fish among them, and in the shallows baby flounder seem to be the main attraction for the snapper. A lot of fish like to dine on dabs, as the young flatfish are called, including kingfish, rays and even sharks which scoop them up like a vacuum cleaner.

Fishing in the Bay of Plenty has been slow in close, with the best action coming from 60m or 70m of water.

Kingfish are running well on the edges of the offshore reefs, and banks around Mayor Island, and can be targeted with speed jigs or live baits.

Freshwater

Trout anglers are looking forward to the opening of the new season on October 1 and next week we will look at prospects for the big day.

Tip of the week

Kahawai are fine eating, either smoked, as raw fish or fillets gently pan-fried. Some anglers like to bleed them when freshly caught, by cutting the throat or the wrist of the tail. But they must be put on ice immediately to lower the body temperature, and the dark meat under the skin should be discarded as it is high in fat and strong in flavour.

Bite times

Bite times today are 12am and 12.30pm, and tomorrow at 12.55am and 1.20pm. These are based on the moon phase and position, not tides, so apply to the whole country. More fishing action can be found at www.GTtackle.co.nz