The game fishing season has started with some of the best fishing seen for many years.
Some large fish have been captured including a potential world record blue marlin of 302kg, caught by 16-year-old Madison Ross out of Tutukaka on January 13. She landed the giant on 15kg line, and if ratified by the IGFA the record will eclipse the women's and junior records.
Marlin have been caught on both coasts, and there is a patch of hot water in Hawke's Bay where five marlin were hooked last weekend. The fishing has also taken off at Waihau Bay and in the Bay of Plenty.
This summer small yellowfin have been caught in many areas, and the more common skipjack tuna have turned up off Tauranga and off Great Barrier Island. The warm currents which bring the game fish to our shores every summer must be warmer in patches because the rare tropical visitors, mahimahi, can already be found and it is still very early in the season.
These beautiful fish which are spectacular jumpers and highly prized table fish, like to hang around any floating debris like logs or floats broken off nets, and can be targeted by trolling small lures past the flotsam. They will also take lures like soft plastics, and a large pink lure cast and retrieved back to the boat will provoke strikes. Mahimahi travel in schools.
Snapper were late moving into the Bay of Islands this spring, but the last month has seen good fishing in the bay, particularly over the foul. Long-liners sending out torpedoes are struggling in the Bay of Plenty, but in Northland surfcasting and long-lining off the beaches is going well.
Kingfish, which are usually the mainstay of the game fishing out of Whakatane, have been patchy with more fish coming from water over 200 metres deep.
Snapper are still running well off Raglan and can be found all along the west coast, and the Manukau harbour is fishing well for gurnard and snapper with scallops fat and easy to find.
On the east side of Auckland there are good numbers of snapper in inshore waters, but small fish are common. The consistently larger fish can still be found between 32 and 40 metres out in the Hauraki Gulf and east of the cable zone.
The mussel farms in the Firth of Thames are popular, and snapper are easy to find with flasher rigs but small kingfish can be a problem as they will tangle lines in the mooring cables.
Soft baits and lures worked around the shoreline are producing some great fishing at Little Barrier and Great Barrier Islands, and larger jigs dropped to the bottom in deeper water will hook either big snapper or kings. Bronze whalers are common and are taking hooked kingfish at spots like Flat Rockand Crusoe Rock.
There is little you can do to combat the bronzies, except move to another spot. After all, you are in their territory. There are plenty of fish in the Waitemata Harbour and drifting with soft baits, or working the currents with pilchard and squid are popular.
Cicadas are in full song, and their strident buzzing is music to fly fishermen's ears. There are 42 species of cicada in New Zealand, and they spend between three and five years underground as a nymph living off sap which they suck from plant roots.
After burrowing to the surface they climb up a tree or post or fence and hatch into adults. Cicadas are poor flyers in strong winds and when blown on to the water they are a favourite prey for trout.
Anglers fishing rivers and streams and some lakes enjoy spectacular fishing when the cicadas are flying, drifting a large dry fly with the occasional twitch to simulate a struggling insect. Lakes where the food base is primarily insects, like Lakes Aniwhenua and Otamangakau, can produce very good fishing and they are going well.
But there is no reason why a cicada imitation drifted along wind lines won't attract cruising trout on lakes like Tarawera and Rotoiti, particularly where the wind is blowing onshore. At Turangi the Tongariro River is also fishing well to the dry fly, and stalking large brown trout along the edge of the bank on the lower reaches is always popular.
Tip of the week
When releasing unwanted snapper it is better not to take them out of the water. The hook can be flicked out with long-nosed pliers when the fish is by the boat. If it must be lifted out, use a wet towel to hold the fish then slip it gently back. Dry hands can damage the layer of mucous which protects the skin from infection. More fishing action can be found at www.GTtackle.co.nz
• Bite times
Bite times are 3.30am and 9.50pm tomorrow and 4am and 10pm on Sunday.