New Zealand, being an island country, has a huge coastline stretching from the sub tropics to the sub antarctic. This creates numerous and diverse fishing opportunities.
BIG GAME FISHING
New Zealand big game fishing is world renowned. During New Zealand's summer months, anglers travel to the east coast of the North island from all corners of the earth.
There are many centers from which to base a big game fishing holiday, such as the Bay of islands, Whangaroa, Whakatane and Tutukaka. From these centers the glamour species can be caught. Predominant are striped marlin, and in New Zealand waters these fish grow to their largest size. Average stripers weigh in around one hundred kilos and there is a good chance of hooking a couple every day. Many world record striped marlin have been caught in New Zealand waters.
Most fishing is by trolling artificial lures or livebaiting. Other species present in the same waters through the summer and fall months are blue marlin, black marlin, broad bill swordfish, mako shark, dolphin fish (mahimahi), yellowfin and bigeye tuna, as well as the occasional shortbilled spearfish. These species are all available from December through April in the waters from North Cape to East Cape. South of East Cape the warm East Auckland Current is pushed to the east and away from the coast. A cooler southern current mixes here creating food filled waters that host large bluefin tuna.
The East Auckland Current splits at the top of the island and some of the fish filled water spills down the west coast of the North island as far as New Plymouth. In these waters huge numbers of albacore and many striped and black marlin can be found during the January to March period. This is a hostile coast with huge ocean swells liable to lash the coast at any time, so fishing days are limited each season. Catch it right though and the big game fishing is world class. Raglan and New Plymouth are the main jump off points for the westcoast fishing although some rivermouths and surf beaches give the chance to launch trailer boats when conditions are suitable.
The West Coast of the South island has a run of bluefin tuna each year and, while fishing is limited by weather conditions, it can be good. Base to use is Milford Sound. East coast South Island centers of Christchurch and Dunedin offer summer fishing for slender tuna, albacore and some big sharks.
Southern Yellowtail, known locally as kingfish, run to world record sizes around the coast of the North Island and the northern coast of the South Island. Livebait fishing using small mackerel is the best way to catch these tough fish. Speed jigging and popper fishing are other effective fishing methods for kingfish. These fish are usually found and fished for near deep rocky shores, offshore reefs and islands. Average fish run ten kilos and can be found in big schools. Larger fish up to fifty kilos are usually loners or travel in small groups.
The whole of New Zealand's coast is suitable for surfcasting with species varying from one location to another. Surf species Include snapper, parore, trevally, kahawai, blue moki, salmon, cod and a variety of small species.
Bait fishing is popular using squid. pilchards, or shellfish. Baits are usually cast well out using a heavy sinker with a bait attached on a running rig. This allows the fish to pick up a bait and move off before noticing that it is attached to anything.
The most sought after species are the snapper and they can be found year round in North Island waters. The snapper school in the spring and early summer months and good catches can be expected. The school fish averaging around a kilo invade the beaches looking for food from October on with the biggest numbers available in most areas through the early part of December. Bigger fish can show up at any time through out the year.
During the winter months some great surfcasting for trevally can be experienced in northern waters. These winter trevally averaging around three kilos can weigh in up to 10 kilos and are great sport in the heavy surf of winter. Shellfish baits are best for them.
Fishing for big fish from the rocks has become a much practiced pastime in New Zealand and most weekends will see anglers heading for remote fishing spots with their land based gamefishing tackle in hand. The main target of such anglers is the southern yellowtail or kingfish. These are fished for using livebaits of kahawai or mackerel. Serious gamefishing gear is required and line weights are usually 15 or 24 kilo.
During the summer months of December through April there is an influx of large Narrowtooth sharks into the shallow bays and rivermouths around the northern coast. Many anglers target these monsters (which run up to three hundred kilos) from landbased positions. Other species caught by landbased game anglers include mako and hammerhead shark, some giant stingrays (not always desired) and snapper over 10 kilos. A few tuna have been taken from the rocks in New Zealand waters and several marlin have been hooked although the first is still to he landed.
This Is one of the most exciting fishing methods used in New Zealand waters. The beauty of it is that you never know what will take your jig next. In northern waters the catch could easily include john dory, kahawai, kingfish, trevally, snapper, mackerel, red snapper, barracouta red pigfish, hapuku, wrasse and a number of other species. In Southern waters it is the same - with blue cod featuring highly. Jigging is done from boats located over reefs or foul ground. The lures which may weigh from a few grams in shallow waters to over half a kilo in deep waters are dropped to the bottom and jigged up and down. Its that simple. A high speed retrieve will often attract a passing kingfish but it is the imitating of a fish in trouble near the bottom that gets the most hits.
ULTRA LIGHT FISHING
Some great spin fishing is available for anglers fishing with ultra light tackle around our coast. Fish such as kahawai and trevally are great sport on lines of one or two kilogram breaking strain. Either bait or small lures are the best approach and the best fishing spots tend to be in the surf, around rivermouths, in shallow bays, and around wharves and other structures. Best lures are small hex wobblers, Grim Reaper lures or some of the new soft plastics. Use as small a lure as your outfit is able to cast. Kingfish hookups and bite offs by barracouta are expected with this style of fishing.
SALTWATER FLY FISHING
This recently popular sport is taking off in New Zealand waters as anglers realise the possibilities available to them.
Most of our saltwater species are catchable on fly. As lines that allow fishing at great depth are used by saltwater fly fishermen in New Zealand, more and more species will be added to the catch list. Most common catches for the few fly fishermen around our coast are kahawai, snapper, trevally, brown trout, salmon and barracouta. Offshore anglers are finally starting to look for bigger game with fly tackle. Skipjack tuna, albacore and yellowfin tuna, striped marlin and mako sharks are all on the list for offshore anglers.
For the marlin, the accepted technique is to troll hookless lures teasers until a fish is attracted then remove the teasers from the water and cast a fly to the marlin. For mako and other shark species, drifting and laying out a trail of tuna chunks or pilchards will bring the shark right up to the back of the boat where the angler can cast to it.
For smaller tuna and some inshore species like kahawai and trevally, fishing to visible surface schools is often possible. If not, a burley trail of attractive pilchard pieces will usually attract them into casting range. Here is also some scope for wading anglers on the estuary sand flats where kahawai, mullet, trevally and other species will be found to be feeding at certain times of the tide.