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NZ trip - kingfish and trout


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Hi Folks. I’ve been lurking around this site for ages – I haven’t done many posts because I never seem to do any fishing worth talking about. Anyway, last week I decided to put a stop to that and went to NZ for a few days fishing.

First stop was Bay of Islands for 3 days to try for kingfish. I chose to go to the Bay because I was on my own and its well set up around the casual angler – which in this case means someone who just wants one spot on a boat – not wanting to charter the whole boat. Getting on a boat for a good day’s kingfish fishing at the Bay is about as easy as getting a cab in Sydney, which allows you to change your plans if you need to. Also the good infrastructure at the Bay means you can fly (or bus) in, fish and then fly out quickly so there is isn’t much non-fishing down-time and costs are kept to a minimum. However if you want big fish these days you have to go to Whitianga, or White Island or Great Barrier or somewhere else, prolonged angling pressure at the Bay has reduced kingfish size till 10-12kg fish seem to be the norm, and fish greater then 20kg are few.

I’ll try and give some useful information on the fishing scene in the Bay. There are a number of operators out of the Bay, mostly taking 4 or 6 on a boat, cost about $200 – 250 pp, and leaving about 7:00 am and getting back about 1:30pm, or something similar. Mostly they leave from Paihia wharf, which is 5 mins walk from most motels and 10mins from the Caravan Park. Mostly its live baiting – so the first hour or so is spent catching yellowtail, and once there’s 100 or so in the tank then its off for the kingfish. On the boats I was on, the Skipper did all the baiting up, handling the fish etc, so I guess they anticipate most people having limited fishing experience. Most boats allow jigging, though I didn’t see much done. Most of the fishing was done on low profile reefs offshore in 30-60 metres. Deeper reefs had more reliable fish but a bad shark problem – which is getting worse and really starting to diminish the fishery. They use circle hooks, so no striking – just watch your rod twitch and then load up. The boat I was on had a 4 person limit – plenty of space for everyone. Best time of year is right now – for both weather and fishing. The only other fish caught were incidental – john dory, nannygai and lots of bait stealing snapper – including one 8kg+. Its not sport fishing – the drags are set tight and only the biggest fish will pull line out. Its common for the operators to do kingfish trips in the morning, and snapper trips in the afternoon. The snapper trips are cheaper ($90ish). Once the boat anchors, get your line down to the bottom as quickly as possible – the first couple of lines down always seem to take fish.

The most important thing is choosing a good charter operator – there are some real duds who can ruin the trip for you. I was lucky, I went out twice with an operator who was awesome – and once with another operator who was OK too.

For me it was one trip for 5 kingfish all around 10kg (21 for the boat, I think) and a handful of snapper.

Another trip for 2 rats, then lots of kingfish but all lost to sharks, then a 12kg fish to finish.

A final trip with a couple of rats, then the sharks moved in and all fish lost, then a last minute change of venue giving me a couple of fish like the one held vertical in the photo (13/14kg I think).

The fish in the photo held horizontal is probably typical of the fish I saw caught, or maybe a little bigger. The shot is just of a sunrise on the Bay - just there cos I liked it.

All in all - a very enjoyable 3 days - recommend it to anyone.

more below ...




Edited by Volitan
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After the Bay of Islands, I went down country for 4 days trout fishing. I went to South Waikato and the King Country – most people would think those are strange choices for a country with so many better locations – but I wanted to go fish the Waihou and Waiomou because I used to fish them 40 years ago and wanted to walk down memory lane. I’ve attached a couple of photos of the upper Waihou - aint it pretty. I’m showing photos of the river and not the fish because the fish were all small – though they were abundant.

The King Country was a bit better. I fished the upper Waipa and the Maungakewa. The Maungakewa had some big fish. I really only fish dry fly (because I like to see everything as it happens) and it turned out to be about a month late for dry fly – there was no natural surface activity at all. With the surface so quiet, I mostly fished a large dry fly like a wulf or a humpy, paired with a small nymph on a dropper about 60 cm long. In the Waikato the fish were evenly spread between dry and nymph, but in the King Country they all seemed to prefer the dry fly. The way I always fish is to get in the river in my waders, and walk quietly upstream casting into the undisturbed water ahead. I can do this for hours on end, but it relies on having a river almost to yourself because it doesn’t work if you are continually walking into water disturbed by other anglers. That’s what I like about the King Country rivers – they are small enough to be wadeable and you seldom meet another angler.

The thing I learnt was that fishing 4 rivers in 4 days is not real smart. Without local knowledge you tend to be fishing in the overfished, easily accessible spots, and not working out where the best parts of the river are till the very end of the day.

Still good, nonetheless.





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