Category Archives: Gurnard

Away trips

Windy TeAraroaDriving north 5 or 6 hours does improve your chances of landing a feed. The first time this summer I ventured up around East Cape on September 10th I miss judged the weather badly and when I got to TeAraroa it was blowing at least 40 knots offshore and was impossible to fish in.

I eventually found a reasonably sheltered spot tucked in behind a hill and managed to soak a few baits, but caught nothing.
On the advice of txts from friends I packed up and headed around the cape towards Bay of Plenty where thankfully the wind was much less severe. I stopped at a quiet beach just before TeKaha and managed to land a small Snapper just on Dusk. Nothing else was interested in my baits there and after an hour or two I drove further up the coast road and stopped at Omaio.

Having been awake for some 14 hours by then I decided to catch a couple of hours sleep and get the lines back out around 11pm which would be two hours shy of high tide.TeKaha
At 11pm I woke to see another guy fishing not far away from me. He had caught several good Gurnard and a couple of small Snapper so I wasted no time getting some lines in the water.
We fished until about 3am but only caught one more Gurnard each, seems i had slept through the action..

I came home from that weekend with one small snapper and a gurnard. Not a lot for over 1000km of travel, but that just proves you have to get everything right to land fish, even in areas where fish are supposedly abundant.Snap and gurnard

My second trip to Omaio took place on Labour weekend and instead of driving up and around the east cape I went up via Taupo and Rotorua. Its still a 5 hours+ trip but the roads are better and easier that way.
I caught up with Kane who was already at Omaio and had fished the previous evening with good success. Snapper and Gurnard were apparently plentiful during the darkness but nothing much was happening in the middle of the day.
That evening just on dusk the snapper and gurnard returned and we both caught a few.
Conditions were perfect with no wind and dead flat calm sea. I hit the car seat for a nap Omaioaround midnight and got up again at 4am to try and snag a few more before sunrise. It wasn’t to be however and nothing further was added to my bin.

When Kane finally woke up around 6am he enquired whether I had caught any more fish. Being told no he decided to get his rods in anyway. The sun was coming up and chances of any more fish were fast slipping away.  Just when we thought it was pretty much all over Kane’s rod went over and he landed a nice fat snapper, biggest of the trip so far. A short time later over it went again and he landed another beauty of 3.6kgs.
bucket of snapperHe ended up with three good solid snapper in the bucket and this is in broad daylight at low tide in the sun! Just when you think you have this fishing knowledge nailed down something like this happens and blows you out of the water…
Anything can can happen at any time up there. 🙂

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Epic East Cape

We had this one planned for a while. A mate has this event at Cape Runaway every June and this year things came together for us and we were able to get a break to go.
Rather than head straight to Runaway, we decided to go the scenic route up the east coast and stop in at various places to camp and fish as we travelled.
We had excellent weather and excellent company, the fishing up that way was just awesome.

Ocean Beach

We had quite a long period or calm seas and settled weather, when this happens you head to Ocean Beach and hunt for Gurnard. The first day it was sunny and flat calm but absolutely dead, I caught 3 of them the second day. This was way above expectations as Gurnard have become so rare in HB due to commercial pressure and habitat issues.

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Winter fishing

Ocean Beach HB is a stunning place to fish, even if you don’t catch anything just spending the day there is a nice break from the shingle beaches north of the cape.
A week of fine calm weather prior to heading out to Ocean is required if you want to chase Gurnard, even so they can still be very hard to come by.
We didn’t find any Gurnard, but did manage a couple of Kahawai and a nice Lemon.
A fishing trip to that place with any sort of fish in the bin is a great day in my book 🙂

Michelle with her first Lemon

Michelle with her first Lemon

Classic NZ beach fishing

Classic NZ beach fishing


Tahaenui is just a few kilometres further up the coast from Whakaki. So in the first week of May we decided to try and repeat our previous success of last month and and try for a gurnard or two.

We fished from 4pm Saturday until about 9pm, then again from 4am until about 2pm Sunday. Fresh Kahawai and Skipjack were the preferred baits this time. I tried to buy Anchovies but my local bait shop was out of them.

Fishing was pretty slow with no real bite time as such. A fish every two hours or so during daylight, but nothing after dark.

We ended the trip with five Gurnard and three Kahawai, so that counts as a success in my book 🙂

A bit of fun late on Sunday when the wife hooked up a large stingray while straylining a pilchard for Kahawai. I had seen the ray in the surf about an hour earlier and commented to her that she might get a fright if that took her bait.
When the ray did take her bait I was handed the rod and set about seeing what we could do with the beast on only 6kg line.
I managed to get the ray within sight in the surf after 30 minutes or so but by then it had dragged us some 300m down the beach. I had the shock-leader on the spool three times, but each time it just took off again and gained 50m of line from me.
Eventually we came upon a kontiki line and in my attempts to stop the ray tangling in the kontiki line or turn it, the 6kg line cried enough and the ray won its freedom.

No beach pictures this time because although we did take the camera we left the memory card at home! Duh!



For me, travelling north for an hour or more seems to be the only way to catch a feed.  I write this after fishing a local beach with three rods on a perfect looking evening for no fish.
Even after providing a veritable smorgasboard of baits ( Pilchard, Anchovy, Skipjack & Crayfish) there were no fish around.  I’ve come to the conclusion that fishing the beaches around Napier is a very hit and miss occupation.

That’s not to say going North is any guarantee of catching anything, but my own results point at a far higher number of dud trips down here than up there.

So enough of last night, and back to the good stuff  of two weeks ago 🙂
snapperApril fools day turned out to be no joke for me.  Arriving at Whakaki, I took an exploratory drive down the track behind the dunes heading back towards Wairoa. The track started to get very soft and the poor old van was struggling. So rather than risk getting stuck I turned back and chose a clear spot in the dunes about 1km from the car park.

The sea was dead flat and clean, ideal Gurnard water, but much to my surprise sunseta small Snapper was the first thing I caught. Over the next few hours, and up until dark I managed to catch three small Snapper and six Gurnard. My best ever haul of fish. Once it got dark the bite stopped, and although I fished until late at night and got up at 4am to fish again there was no further action at all.

If only we could expect similar results every time, life would be great 🙂




Blacks Beach


A nice afternoon at Blacks

I’ve been meaning to get up north of Wairoa for well, most of the summer.. Every time I made plans something would throw a spanner in the works. The weather would turn to crap, other must-do things got in the way etc.. But last weekend I finally got my shit together and made the mad dash to Whakaki. Well perhaps it was more like a leisurely trundle in my van, but never the less after work Saturday I found myself staring at beautiful clean calm water at Blacks Beach.

Although it was a Pania Surfcasting Club field weekend, I was more interested in fishing for the table, having been starved of fish for dinner because of my lack of local (Napier) fishing luck, I was looking forward to getting a fish or two in the bin.

Recent reports of plentiful snapper and gurnard from north of Whakaki had me hopeful I could at least catch something!

I started out fishing 3 rods, two with pulley-rigs, one with a ledger (droppers) and a variety of baits to try and get an idea on what, if anything, would work.  I had pilchards, skipjack and prawns in the bait bin. First fish of the evening was a 32cm snapper, good stuff, a few more of those and I’ll be a happy man.  But from then on the snapper seemed to desert me. I managed three nice Kahawai just before dark, and then it was shark time..


Baby Bronze-Whaler shark

From about 9pm onwards all I could catch was baby Bronze Whaler sharks and baby Tope sharks. I had hoped the prawns would attract a Lemon or two but they either weren’t there or weren’t interested. I did manage another very small (just legal) snapper on a prawn bait but I released it. The tiny ones like that are hardly worth filleting.


Dawn at Blacks

Getting sick of the sharks I crawled into the van for a few hours sleep. Up again at 3am and baits out. Nothing for the next 3 hours. Then I caught a smallish Kahawai and decided to try it as fresh bait. Gurnard apparently quite fancy fresh Kahawai as bait. But nothing wanted it until about 9am when I decided to call it quits.  Just as I wound in my last rod I thought I had a piece of weed or something but it turned out to be a Gurnard.

So overall it wasn’t a bad trip. I had fish to eat and the weather was great.

Back at the Pania weigh-in there were some nice catches of snapper, gurnard and lemons.
The biggest snapper was 1.4kg and that was caught right here in Napier!
Thats fishing I guess..




Sunset is a great time to be fishing.

The last time I fished and Mohaka was also my first time. I did quite well compared to fishing locally here in Napier, so I decided to go again. Arriving at the beach about 630pm on the Saturday just as the day was starting to cool into dusk was perfect as far as I could see.

The conditions were good, sea was very calm and clean, it should be a productive evening fishing was my first thought. Unfortunately my ‘thoughts’ were way off target, and the baits were totally untouched.
I decided to try for a Kingfish seeing as nothing was touching the cut-baits. A prime livebait in the form of a 30cm Kahawai was caught and despatched on a sliding line where it swam around happily for a few hours but it too was totally unmolested.

As darkness set in I resumed with cut baits of Pilchard and Skipjack. Then I noticed one of the tip lights wobbling. Aha! about time! Unfortunately the fish that appeared in the surf in my headlamp beam was not the Gurnard or Snapper I was hoping for, but a small Tope shark.
I replaced the shredded trace and released the shark only to have several more of them hook up over the next hour or so. I realised then that the sharks were only taking the Skipjack baits and not the pilchards. Changing to pilchard on both rods bought some relief from the sharks.

At about 10pm one of the rods started a gentle lean and kept bending. By the time I got to it line was peeling off the spool. I soon realised this was not a fish. It was a bloody stingray!


Stingrays can soak up a lot of fishing time.

Anyone who has hooked a stingray on a surfcaster knows what a pain in the butt they can be. If you haven’t hooked one, just imagine someone has tied your line to an underwater tractor! They are often so big and heavy that there is nothing you can do to turn them and ultimately catch/release them. Many people will just lock up the reel and break the line because a prolonged scrap with a stingray can soak up an hour or more of fishing time.

So here I was, alone in the dark attached to a sizeable stingray and then the thought just struck me, damn! the gaff is still in the van.. So even if I manage to get this thing into the surf I have no way of landing it and unhooking it. After about 20 minutes of give and take I had the ray swimming up and down the beach just inside the first wave. I just could not get it up onto the beach, every time a wave washed it onto the shore it would power back out and I could do nothing but watch as the reel released line to it.

I thought ‘maybe I should just break the line’ but that would mean replacing the whole terminal tackle rig, and I wanted my gear back! I couldn’t really see the ray (my headlamp is not very good) but the angle of the line told me it was pretty close. Just then a larger than normal wave pushed the ray up onto the beach into ankle deep water. I locked up the drag and shoved the rod into the spike. Then sprinted back to the van to get the gaff. Thirty seconds later with gaff in hand I waded into the shallows and gently dragged the beast onto dry land.
I was pretty buggered by then, 40 minutes of fighting these things on full load will turn your arms into jelly and announce back muscles you never knew you had.

After flipping the ray over and removing the hooks I dragged it back into the water and watched it swim away. Maybe to torment another fisherman on another day.


Smaller Rays are easier to deal with.

Dawn is rather special too :)

Dawn is a very special time to be fishing.

After that the rest of the night was dead as far as fishing went. I retired to the van for a few winks at about 1130pm. Up again at 3am with the full-ish moon lighting up a perfectly flat sea, I had more baits in the water. Only pilchard this time. Nothing was interested in my baits until about 5am when one the rods started another slow bend.. Not again! Yep, but this one was considerably smaller and I dealt to it inside 10 minutes. As the sun came up I decide to try livebaits again. There were lots of splashes and surface disturbances indicating baitfish in the surf so I figured there may be a Kingfish snooping around.
A fat little Kahawai was procured with sabiki bait flies and sent out on a slider with a hook in its back.
Every now and then my livebait would go berserk and start splashing around on the surface. Obviously it could see impending doom swimming around underneath it. But it remained intact and survived so no Kingfish were harmed on this trip.
I was getting no bites at all on the pilchards so I caught another small Kahawai and cut it up for bait.

IMG_4464Finally at about 7am the cut Kahawai bait produced a nice Gurnard. Five minutes later another one joined it in the bin. That was it, bite-time over. The sun was up now and chances of  catching anything else getting slimmer by the minute.

So, an eventful trip if not overly productive. But that’s fishing…


Last weekend the Pania Surfcasting Club had a two day fish at Mohaka. I’d never fished Mohaka before so after work on Saturday morning I loaded up the van and headed up there not sure what to expect.

Blistering summer heat and clear skies are not ideal fishing conditions.

Blistering summer heat and clear skies are not ideal fishing conditions.

It was blistering hot (the weather not the fishing) so its no surprise bugger all was caught during the day. However the dusk and incoming tide combination produced an hour or so of ‘bite time’ on the Saturday evening, and a similar flurry at dawn on Sunday.

By 8pm Saturday evening I was still looking at an empty fish bin, and wondering if this trip would be yet another waste of gas. Then as the sun faded away the sharks came out. I landed a couple of small Tope and replaced the shredded traces. Then I caught a large paddle crab. Having not had any luck getting a Lemonfish to take my Prawn-Tails bait, I chopped the crab up and used that.

Fresh crab did the trick and I soon had a small lemonfish in the bin.
That was pretty much it for the evening. I fished until midnight and crawled into the van for a snooze.

Worth getting up early even just for the view...

Worth getting up early even just for the view…

Up again just before dawn and the sea was dead flat. At about 5am the gurnard came on the bite and I managed to catch two of them before the sun came up turned the fish off.
I fished until about 9am but the heat and lack of any more action persuaded me to call it a day.

The lemonfish was the first fish to go in my new smoker, it tasted great and smoking is now my preferred method of preparing those.  So although fishing was reasonably hard, the trip was still worthwhile and a feed of fish afterwards is all we can really ask for 🙂

November starts well.

I’ve been pretty busy with work over the last few weeks so fishing has taken a back seat. However, the craving won out out on Friday night and we headed out for a quick dusk-evening fish at Aropaoanui.
We had intentions of fishing the river mouth but on arriving we found it already occupied with a few rods. So we waded through the knee-deep steam and headed for the southern end of the beach.

I think this was an unintentional good move, as the guy we spoke to at the mouth was being plagued with Kahawai. We setup about 50m from the reef at the Napier end of the beach in gusty Nor-Westerly conditions. No sooner had I cast my baits and one road started jiggling.

First fish of the evening, a nice pannie sized Snapper. (My first legal sized snapper since 2010)  This was followed about 10 minutes later by a solid Kahawai.  This trip was already a success!
Next fish for me was a nice fat gurnard just on dusk, The Skipjack bait was working well.
As the evening came on I had another solid hookup which turned out to be a small lemonshark. Its not very often you catch Lemons on Skipjack bait, so this one was obviously very hungry.

Once it got properly dark the fish went off the bite for me. Andy my fishing partner had caught a Kahawai and released a small Lemon as well. He finally got a good hookup and we were looking forward to seeing a nice Snapper or something. It turned out to be a Barracuda. Oh well thats fishing.

I’m looking forward to better fishing this month.