Category Archives: Snapper

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..

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.

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 🙂

Important issues that affect all recreational fishermen.

A commercial net full of undersize Snapper

A commercial net full of undersize Snapper

If we don’t do something about it, snapper limits in Bay of Plenty, Auckland and eastern Northland (Snapper 1 fishery) will be reduced to three per person per day by October this year.

To tell the government we don’t agree with this plan, please, please send your submissions to Inshore Fisheries Management, Ministry for Primary Industries, PO Box 2526, Wellington 6011 or email to by 4pm on Friday, August 23.

NZ Fishing World is in the process of organising a public meeting, in conjunction with other fishing media, so that you can air your views. Nathan Guy MP is the minister for primary industries. He’ll make the call.

We’ve invited him to a meeting but his office has, so far, not given us a reply to our invitation. Please post and share this. Together we can stop this ridiculous proposal from becoming law.

You can also help by supporting Legasea


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..



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.

September and Snapper

Late September is the time of year Hawke’s Bay surfcasters wait for.  This is the time for big snapper to turn up and hopefully, get caught.
There have been a few  really big ones caught in the last two or three weeks. Fish over 8kg and up to 13kg!
Connecting with one of these beauties can be a bit of a lottery as they are not about in huge numbers, and its all about having a bait in the water at the right time and in the right place.

Napier Port viewed from Bay View at night.

There have been endless discussions on what exactly is the right time and place, but there is general consensus that fishing in the evening is better because the fish are not so shy in coming close to shore under the cover of darkness.

So just to throw a spanner in the works, the biggest fish decided to show us that we really have no understanding of their movements.
A 13.4kg fish was caught at 8am in Mahia and a 11.8kg fish was caught at 2.30pm in Napier. So much for our theories about fishing in the dark. But then fishing is always like that, just when you think you have it sorted, the fish say otherwise. 🙂

As for me, no luck yet. I’ve given it 4 or 5 outings in the dusk/evening during the last two weeks but no bites at all, from anything..

Oh well, maybe October will be my month to win a fish lottery 🙂


Persistence finally pays off

Mark Roberts with a 7.5kg Snapper

Not for me personally, but for a good mate of mine Mark Roberts. Many people when they see a good fish like this will exclaim ‘you lucky bugger’ or words along those lines. But its not all luck.

Catches like this might be easy or commonplace in certain areas of New Zealand, but here in Napier that’s not the case.  There can be many many fishing trips, years even, between catches of big snapper.
Persistence, knowledge, preparation, and yes finally, a little luck does come into play.

Persistence, I believe is the main key in this area of the country.
Most people in this area have a fair idea when to fish, when not to fish. What sort of weather is best, what sort of bait to use. How to present that bait, what sort of terminal tackle to use, and they do these things every time they go out fishing.
But that’s not enough.  You have to do all that, but you have to do it often. You may go out on dozens, if not hundreds of fishing trips before you catch a fish like this. But eventually someone gets one.

The fishing grapevine is good at exaggerating the talk when someone around Napier has landed a big one. You hear statements like ‘big snapper are being caught at spot x’.
The real translation of this is ‘someone out of the hundreds of fishermen who have fished hundreds of hours at spot  x over the last few months has finally caught one’.

Every year snapper, and big ones too, are caught in the most unlikely places around Napier. Places that are thrashed day in and day out by surfcasters. This is I believe, more due to fishing pressure than anything else. If there are enough lines in the water enough of the time, eventually someone is going to catch the one that happens to swim past.

This is probably why so many of Napier’s serious surfcasters travel far and wide in search of fish. Catching a feed of fish is not guaranteed anywhere, but as a general rule, the further north you travel the better your chances. So you can fish local beaches for months on end in the hope of a good fish, or you can spend the money on fuel and travel elsewhere in the expectation of better odds.

Then when you get home, you find someone has dragged out a big one on your back doorstep 🙂
Well done Mark!