Category Archives: Kahawai

Winter fare is not all bad.

In some ways winter fishing around Napier beaches can be more productive than summer. The species caught are often thought of as less desirable by some, but getting something, anything, on the line is still better than hours and hours of soaking bait with no result.
In the hight of summer, December-January-February, there is very little in the way of fish for the surfcaster to catch around Napier. With the exception of Kingfish around the river mouths, the place is pretty dead over mid summer.

Barracouta are one of the few nuisance fish we get in Winter

Barracouta are one of the few nuisance fish we get in Winter

In winter the main catch around here is Red Cod, along with Barracouta and if you have the right bait, Spotted Smooth Hound. Of course the good old Kahawai do make appearances during winter as well, especially around the river mouths.

Many people would consider all of the winter species mentioned above as “rubbish fish” and only fit for cat food. While I agree with that sentiment in regards to Barracouta, the others are quite edible if treated correctly when you catch them

Red Cod need to be processed immediately upon capture

Red Cod need to be processed immediately upon capture

Like Smooth Hounds, Red Cod need to be cleaned as soon as they are landed.
Quickly scale the fish, remove the head and guts including the black rib-cage lining. Put the body of the cleaned fish into a bucket of clean, cold, salt water and leave it there until you are ready to head home. I transfer them to the chillybin only when I’m read to head home.
Once home put the cod body in the fridge whole and leave it overnight before filleting it. This allows the flesh to ‘set’ and become firmer and easier to fillet.
Leaving the fillets in the fridge for another day, or at least a few more hours will firm them up  even more, ready for batter and fry pan. Done this way I actually prefer the taste of cod to both Kahawai and Smooth Hound.
However, if you just dump your Red Cod into the fish bin when you catch it, the nasty gut contents and body slime will penetrate the taste of the fish..

This Spiney Dogfish attacked a Red Cod that had swallowed the hook. In biting out the belly of the fish it managed to hook itself on the same hook.

This Spiney Dogfish attacked a Red Cod that had swallowed the hook. In biting out the belly of the fish it managed to hook itself on the same hook.

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.

First fish of the year

Realistically what are the odds of you catching anything other than a Kahawai at this time of year? Probably an 80% chance of Kahawai over any other species.
December through to early February are usually pretty lean times for surfcasters around Napier. The seas are usually flat calm, days are hot, and the fish (gurnard and Snapper) are out in deeper water. Exceptions to this would be Kahawai and Kingfish.
River mouths are well populated with fishermen at this time of year. Spinning for Kahawai, or live-baiting for Kingfish.
As I don’t like fishing shoulder to shoulder with others, I tend to try and find my own space even if its away from the so called ‘productive areas’. Ocean beach can also be busy at this time of year, but if you have a quad or a 4wd vehicle there are many kilometres of beach to explore.
I hadn’t been out there for quite a while so I drove the entire beach to have a look and see how it’s changed. And change is does. After every period of bad weather the channels and holes move or fill up and relocate somewhere else.
Yesterday I discovered the usual Ocean Beach sandbar was fencing off most of the beach in a continuous channel with very few holes or ‘gates’ to the open sea.
I drove along looking for a break in the channel where all that trapped current would exit to the ocean again. A decent rip gouged out by all that exiting water usually makes for better fishing.

A rip where trapped water from the inner channel  exits to the main ocean.

A rip where trapped water from the inner channel exits to the main ocean.

A solid Kahawai caught in the rip above

A solid Kahawai caught in the rip above

Spring at last

Ok so its been a while since I posted here, I’ve been rather busy with work and other commitments.
snapperThe highlight for me has been the start of the spring-summer fishing. We’ve had two field weekends so far in the Pania Surfcasting Club 2014-15 season. In field weekend one I caught nothing, as did many others. In field weekend two I broke a 29 year drought and caught an 8.6kg snapper. It was caught locally, at Gill Road Bayview, and is the first snapper over 2kg that I have caught since 1985!
smoked-kahawaiOn the same day I also caught my 5 allowable Kahawai, 3 of which were over 2kg.
Suffice to say, it was a great weekend.

This weekend I participated in the “Thornton Beach Fish Together” organised by Chad Prentice on Facebook. Some 70 odd fishos from all over converged on Thornton Beach, Bay of Plenty for an evening of camaraderie and abundant B.O.P fishing.
We got the first part right, but the fish were absent in the area I was fishing. Some good catches of snapper were taken further up the coast at Matata though.

So its been a mix of extreme highs and lows. Stoked to have nabbed my big snapper, gutted to have driven 8 hours and 600km for no fish.

But I guess thats why they call it fishing instead of catching 🙂


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!


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..



Smoked Kahawai

Yesterday we caught 3 decent Kahawai at Aropaoanui. The sea was pretty rough and I didn’t hold out much hope of catching anything else, but hey, there’s nothing wrong with Kahawai!

A few weeks back I purchased a smoker from my local Hunting & Fishing store. I’d tested it on Lemonfish (very nice too) but wanted to put it to the test on Kahawai. Now was my chance..

The fish were scaled and filleted and then laid out on newspaper. Plain salt was rubbed into the flesh and the whole package rolled up and put into the fridge overnight. The salt and newspaper suck the excess moisture out of the fillets. Then undo the package and rub brown sugar into the fillets. Put them back in the fridge for a few hours.

Into the smoker they go. Fifteen minutes later, the best Kahawai you ever had 🙂
Ready to smoke 15minutes Perfect Yummm

The elusive Kingfish

I’ve never caught a Kingfish from the beach. I’ve hooked a couple from the rocks before, but 10 seconds worth of reel scream and a busted line is not all that satisfying.
IMG_4122So this month I’ve been trying to set that right by targeting Kingi’s from the beach.
Esk river mouth has a history of producing Kingfish action, so with sliding traces and bait-fish buckets we have been busy trying to tempt the green and yellow terrors.
Live baits in the form of small Kahawai and YEM’s (Yellow Eye Mackerel) up to about 200mm in length are considered to be ‘Kingfish snacks’ .

You can see the bait fish (and sometimes the Kings) cruising in the surf around the river mouth. The theory is to capture a few of these small fish and send them back out with a hook through their skin so that Mr Kingfish will swallow one and thus be hooked himself.

Live baits read for despatch

Live baits read for despatch

In theory it sounds pretty simple. In reality its actually fraught with problems.
First you would think catching and keeping a few bait fish and storing them in a bucket as ready-to-go Kingfish lollies sounds simple enough.  Frustration sets in as you can see the buggers swimming up and down the waves but managing to hook them on a string of sabiki bait flies is a challenge in itself. We did manage to catch a few  (live baits) on our first day out but they were not interested at all on day two.

We were “slide-baiting” which is attaching your livey to the mainline via a longish trace and a clip-swivel. The livebait and trace ‘slides’ down the mainline into the water and eventually gets right down to the sinker end where a Kingi finds it and eats it… In theory.

We did manage to get a couple of live baits out but no Kingfish found them enticing enough to eat. Instead a large Kahawai decided to eat one and while it spat out the (now very dead) live bait it did manage to hook itself, so the system does work, sort of.

I’m still going to chase the kings, as I’ve said, I’ve never caught one and its on my bucket list 🙂

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.

Spring success

Perfect conditions at Ocean Beach

After a week or so of westerly winds the surf at one of my favourite places, Ocean Beach HB, has finally settled down and that means Gurnard fishing time!
Its common knowledge among the locals that you need a week or so of flat calm conditions before the Gurnard will venture inshore far enough to be a viable surfcasting target.
So on Friday afternoon Mark Roberts and I headed out there loaded up with suitable baits (cray and skipjack) but I also packed the crab pot to nab some fresh crabs for targeting Lemons.

Conditions were perfect, flat calm, clean, low tide around 4.30pm so just heading into dusk.
A healthy Kahawai was the first fish to hit the beach, then a Gurnard, then another Kahawai and a second Gurnard. I was a happy man 🙂
Things went a bit dead around slack water which is not unusual, but Mark picked up a fat Lemon shark just on dark.

Releasing Lemonshark pups

At this time of year female Lemons are usually full of pups, and this one was no exception. A quick caesarean section and the eight fully formed pups swam off on their own, hopefully to become surfcasting targets themselves in a year or two.

We headed back up the beach once it got dark as we had noticed a couple of areas coming in, where the tide would cut us off and trap us there. Plus I wanted to get home and cook my Gurnard..

I ventured out again on the Saturday afternoon but the northerly wind was pushing 20knots and making fishing difficult. I had decided that morning to try a different rig when targeting the gurnard, so instead of my usual pully-rig I made up some simple double ledger rigs with smallish hooks. Two baits must be better than one right?

Well they worked a treat, but instead of bringing in more Gurnard, I was catching Kahawai two at a time!
I think the northerly wind and slightly rougher sea had pushed the Gurnard back out to deeper water.

Carpet Sharks are in plentiful supply at the moment.

Also succumbing to the ledger rig was my first ever Carpet Shark. It wasn’t my first for very long though. Another two Carpet Sharks were caught and released by the time I’d decided to head home.
So I finished the Saturday with five Kahawai (released two) and three Carpet Sharks (all released)
An excellent weekend’s fishing 🙂