New Zealand is spoilt for choice when it comes to accessible land-based fishing options.
Collectively we are owners of more glorious coastline than all of China. This, coupled with our 20m of ad hoc access above high tide i.e. the Queen's Chain, means there's something for everyone. From deep rocky ledges, to surf-beach guts — we have fast and slow rivers, deep and shallow lakes, fish-filled estuaries and of course wharfs, wharfs, wharfs.
Benefits of land-based fishing are enormous. Cost for one. I remember taking my second-hand-new boat in for its first service, my mechanic jokingly telling me that BOAT was really an acronym for "Bring Over Another Thousand". How we laughed and laughed. Then he handed me a bill for $1014.67.
Seasickness isn't a problem on land and if you forget something it's easy enough to go pick it up, it's also a great way to introduce kids to the joy of it all.
Right now is perfect to get out and explore, not only because of our settled weather (well kind of), but also because the warmer waters bring the fish in close. You know all the shark sightings we get at this time of year? Contrary to newspaper reports they aren't interested in your aunty doing backstroke off Pauanui, but fish, lots of fish, all in close — in fact, sharks are a great sign.
With no time to dive into all techniques, let's have a quick look at the glamour pursuit of rock fishing.
Colloquially referred to as "fishing off the bricks", it's a fishing passion in its own right.
There are magic spots everywhere to be discovered, particularly around Northland and along the East Coast's magical State Highway 35 by Lottin Point. Thanks to modern technology the adventurous can even discover new places using apps like Google Earth and Navionics to search out deep ledges off accessible platforms.
Equally, I've seen plenty of decent snapper and even kingfish up to 25kg caught off rocks in our most populous city, Auckland, proof you don't necessarily have to go far to find action.
What to look for: Ideally a deep ledge in close with limited foul in front is best. Current is your friend as it helps spread the news to nearby fish via your burley trail. Changes of light and tide are favourable to get the big fish active.
Some things to bring: Burley here is essential, and the first thing to set upon arrival. Tie a loose meshed sack of the stuff to rocks at the tideline to allow the wash of waves to send out a good oily trail. Some anglers won't even think about putting a line in until it has flowed for an hour or more.
Take a good landing net on a long strong pole; you'll also need the right gear to target the fish you want. Snapper will take well-presented cut bait, but big kingfish respond best to live-bait placed under a balloon then sent out into your burley slick. If targeting bigger fish; long strong rods and a gaff is a good idea too.
Rock fishing means lots of wash, weed and movement, so use cut-bait tough enough to survive your first few bites, this allows the bigger fish to get close.
There have been some stonking great catches from land over the years. My old mate Richard Baker has caught hundreds of big kingfish, including one that weighed a staggering 42.5kg.
If you are looking for a real challenge, despite attempts no one in NZ to date has managed to land a marlin from shore. There have been two hooked but none landed. So that fishing Everest is still out there.
Who knows, new technology such as drones and hollow-core braid (which allows enough string to hang on to one), means there are now even better odds to make that a reality sometime in the future.
No boat required.