Wanganui fishing's fantastic

By Laurel Stowell, laurel.stowell@wanganuichronicle.co.nz

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Fishing the Wanganui coastline and river is as good as it has been for a long time, the city's fishing guru, Grant Clark, says.

Mr Clark's been trying his luck in the water for 45 years.

"A few weeks ago, the kahawai were unbelievable off the river mole. I can't remember that abundance of kahawai being caught in two weeks. It was just unreal," he said.

Snapper, gurnard and kahawai are being caught off the beaches by surfcasting. A john dory was caught near the sailing club in the river estuary, which Mr Clark said was most unusual. Kingfish were caught fairly regularly offshore and there were a few reports of blue cod weighing three to four kilograms being pulled in off Waverley and Patea.

He didn't know why the fishing was so good, and guessed that a clean river and fewer trawlers working offshore could be helping.

"I just think the stocks are being replenished."

The windy weather was preventing fishing boats going out to sea often. But Mr Clark said when they did, most would "bin-up" (fill their quotas).

Bigger boats further offshore were getting groper and blue cod, while those closer in were finding tarakihi, blue cod and snapper.

The Whanganui River estuary was mainly good for herrings and kahawai. Kahawai was a game fish and not to be scorned.

"There was a time when people wouldn't even consider eating kahawai. They're very popular for smoking these days."

The most recent regulations limit the kahawai catch to 20 per person a day.

Mr Clark said fishing an incoming tide was supposedly good but there was no guarantee of success. He's seen hundreds of red cod and kahawai coming in on a tide, only to mysteriously stop "just like turning off the light".

The best spots for surfcasting were where the water was deeper, and that could change quickly as sand moved along the coast. Serious fishers often stood in water up to their waists.

The best fishing conditions were a calm sea and cloudy sky. Wind and rough water made it too hard to keep a line out.

And Mr Clark said more people fishing from the shore were using the new, motorised Kontiki-type lines. Their motors took a line 2km out, with 25 hooks on it.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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