Category Archives: Kingfish

Epic Far North Fishing

For three years I have been planning to go to the far north and verify for myself some of the tall tales uttered by fellow fishermen upon their return. I nearly got there last year but events conspired to thwart me and even though I had time to go, other things soaked up my funds and I was left wondering.

This year no such bad luck came my way and with determination and a heap of money spent, I was on my way to experience the best land-based fishing NZ has to offer.
The far north is a fisherman’s paradise, there is no other description. Its a different world compared to places like Hawke’s Bay. There are so many fish available up there. There is always somewhere to fish as well, no matter what the weather is doing.
Beaches both east and west are within a short drive, you could easily fish both coasts on the same day. Harbours and estuaries are full of fish should the weather prohibit fishing any open beaches.
Its a visual feast as well, epic scenery and stunning fish life swimming by at your feet.
They have a saying in the far north, “if you’re starving in the far north, you’re lazy”
I fully believe that. The abundance of fish and other wildlife is amazing.

So check out these pictures and videos. and start planning your trip..

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.

Winter 2016

Ok so I’ve been really slack about updating this website in any sort of timely fashion. Not that I’ve done a lot of fishing either, but there have been a few adventures and discoveries over the last few months which I will report on below.

Kingfish in Pandora Estuary!
Yes while walking on the old embankment road bridge one day I discovered there were massive schools of Grey Mullet swimming up the estuary. But even more exciting was the fact that Kingfish were lurking under the bridge and crashing through the schools as they came near.

Photos and Video below.
Grey Mullet





A king at last

Finally, after years of trying I got one. Last Pania SCC field weekend I decided not to drive to far away beaches in search of fish. All reports from those who had were somewhat dismal and I decided to save my petrol and fish locally. If I was going to catch nothing anyway, why waste petrol and $$ to do it?
So I fished local beaches and as expected pickings were very slim. A few small Kahawai up to about 40cm was all I could manage.

2015-01-24 20.28.12As I mentioned in the last post, January is Kingfish time, so in the end I put a 40cm kahawai out as a live-bait and left it to do its thing while trying all sorts of cut baits on the other rod.
Nothing showed any interest in my Kahawai, or indeed the baits on the other rod, until about 8pm. Just on sunset I noticed my live-bait getting quite agitated. The rod tip bouncing as it tried desperately to get away.
Then it stopped bouncing and the rod slowly took on a big bend. As I got to the rod and pulled it out of the stand, all hell broke loose.
The poor old Daiwa screamed in protest as mr Kingfish decided to go somewhere else, fast!

Only having 8kg line on the reel I had to be a bit careful and resist the urge to try and ‘deal to it’, instead letting it run and keeping as much constant pressure as I dared.
The fish would make a burning run and stop for a while as I slowly put line back on the spool. Then it would scream off again and take all my hard won line away again.
I learned another thing too, stiff 14ft surfcasting rods kill at both ends!
M1250007Twenty minutes later with burning arm muscles I managed to spot the tell-tale yellow fins in the water just beyond the first wave.
In the mean time a fellow surfcaster from down the beach had taken an interest in my struggle and was now standing behind me with cellphone camera at the ready.
A lucky wave gave me the opportunity to ‘surf’ the fish in on its side and I had my first ever land based Kingfish of 15.34kg


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 🙂