Containers and other debris from the grounded ship Rena pose a serious hazard to boats in the Bay of Plenty.

"It is important to keep a good lookout, and don't go anywhere at night," warned veteran Whakatane skipper John Baker.

He said containers floated just under the surface and were not always level. "They can have air trapped inside and one corner will be sticking up. It could be a nightmare for a boat hitting one."

Baker said containers were always a hazard at sea, and they occasionally fell off container ships, but the containers from the Rena were travelling down the coast. "They have turned up from White Island to Te Araroa [by East Cape]. One crazy fisherman hooked one up and towed it into Whakatane and left it tied up on a mooring."


Some containers had opened and spilled timber into the sea.

"There are a lot of logs floating around 10 miles off Whakatane, so fizz boats should be careful."

There was a sprinkling of oil, but most of it was on the flotsam and foam which came from broken containers and some had washed up on the Volkner Rocks, near White Island.

Fish life on Astrolabe Reef, where the Rena foundered, is plentiful and there is "an abundance of fish under the ship", says Roly Bagshaw of the Topcatch shop in Tauranga.

"There is plenty of life around the reef, and with the exclusion zone the fish are getting a good rest.

"The beaches and the water around Tauranga are clean and the fishery is still healthy. There are a lot of kahawai around and good snapper starting to come into the harbour, and tarakihi on two-mile, three-mile and five-mile reefs."

Kahawai are plentiful in the Hauraki Gulf, too, continuing the pattern of the past three years. And some nice kingfish are on the outer reefs. They will move in as the water warms.

Some anglers regard kahawai as a nuisance, but they are a magnificent fighting fish and can be pretty good on a plate. Like all fish, they benefit from being put on ice immediately.


They can be served as sashimi or raw fish marinated in coconut milk, smoked and turned into pate or fishcakes, or the fillets poached in milk.

Where the feisty kahawai comes into its own is when hooked on a light spin rod, like those used for soft-bait fishing, or a trout fly rod. They fight so hard that the angler learns how to make the rod work to its limits and will improve their angling skills.

Fish such as school snapper can be simply pulled straight in, but a powerful fish on light tackle needs careful handling, working the rod to maintain an even pressure, not lifting the point above about 45 degrees or it can easily snap, and working the tackle smoothly. It is a lot of fun and satisfying when done correctly.

Kahawai will eat everything, from a chunk of pilchard or squid to a soft bait or small jig, to a trolled lure or a small trout fly.

If aiming for snapper and trying to avoid kahawai, try using heavy sinkers to pull the baits down quickly, hopefully avoiding the kahawai which can be swimming anywhere between the seabed and the surface.

Use old, faded sinkers, not bright, shiny new ones which will attract fish like kahawai and barracouta.

After an early run of whitebait on the lower Waikato River, whitebaiters report "the worst season in memory", with high water levels and very few fish. Even netting for mullet at the river mouth has been hard, with more kahawai than mullet. There are a lot of stingrays in the Manukau Harbour, and a lot of small snapper.

In the Bay of Islands there are some snapper on the 30m line, and the occasional large one in close at Tapeka Pt. Some kingfish have been taken at Red Head, and there are schools of anchovies and pilchards between Mita's Foul and Capstan Rock, with kingfish following the baitfish.

After a slow start to the season, some large trout have been taken in the Ohau Channel this week, including both browns and rainbows to 5.5kg. Lake Tarawera continues to produce the highest numbers caught, and while Lake Rotoiti has been harder fishing, the biggest trout are coming from there. Trolling round Mokoia Island on Lake Rotorua has been going well, with a lot of brown trout to 4kg reported.

* More fishing action can be found on Outdoors with Geoff, 5pm today on TV3, and on the internet television channel www.FishnHunt.Tv