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Thread: New Zealand

  1. #20

    Default NZ game fish challenge anglers.

    As the weather turns more wintry thoughts and actions start to move away from game fishing, which is a pity as the signs are there that some very big Striped Marlin and Broadbill remain to be caught.

    The unusual feeding patterns of our Striped Marlin have continued. It seems the huge amount of deep water bait schools have diminished and the Marlin have returned to the more usual surface feeding habits.

    These fish have still remained a challenge, however, being primarily and heavily focussed on tiny saury and difficult to distract away from their hard feeding intentions before their winter migration begins.

    Huge numbers of Marlin have concentrated close to the coast off Tutukaka, but catch rates have been disproportionately low. The best was 20 fish from 40 boats but other days have seen as few as 5 fish from 80 boats, despite many boats seeing upwards of 20 fish per day! Lures are largely ignored (even small saury imitations) with livebaits more successful, though the readily available large kahawai have hardly matched the hatch!

    When these big baits have been swallowed, however, some massive Stripeys have resulted.

    There have been numerous fish over 300lbs, topped by a beauty of 384.5 lbs on 3kg line! The all tackle record also shuddered when a top “retired” captain boated a fish of 450lbs for his deckie!

    This amazing captain, recently completed a trip after Broadbill and caught no less than 5 of these elusive brutes, taking his tally to over 100 in 6 seasons.

    Another daytime Broadbill has been taken by deep drifting and this one thumped the scales down to an impressive 586lbs.

    Few charters are taking place, unfortunately, and the potential has been mainly exploited by private boats.

    There are large numbers of Yellowtail Kingfish around, with the big annual tournament due to take place in early June. Several of the livebaits will be hit, however, by the increasing number of Mako sharks. Mechanical jigging may be a better option.

    Thoughts are now turning to the short season where giant Bluefin Tuna are caught each year in August & September from the west coast.

    Tight Lines.

    John Kimberley

  2. #19

    Default NZ progress report. February 2010

    With our game season now fully underway, catch reports are coming in thick & fast.

    Striped Marlin are around in good numbers all around the coast of the top half of the North Island, with the Bay of Islands currently offering as consistent fishing as anywhere.

    The largest Stripey, so far, has been taken in the Bay of plenty and weighed 315lbs.

    Also in the Bay of Plenty, Waihu Bay has been firing for Blues as well as Stripies and we can expect to soon hear reports of big Blues landed or breaking free as is the norm in this location at this time of year.

    The best Blue, to date, came from the Coromandel and pulled the scales down to 584lbs.

    Four Black Marlin have been tagged & released, with the largest estimated at 575lbs, a good fish but we know much larger fish prowl our reefs….if only more effort was made to find them!

    Yellowfin Tuna have gone scarce after some early season promise, with just a very occasional fish taken & usually much smaller than the early run.

    Spearfish continue to be taken in greater numbers than usual & there have been plenty of Albacore around. Mahimahi are hiding under any significant lump of flotsam in northern waters and the implementations of FADS would surely improve the fishery for these beautiful little battlers.

    Most unusual capture occurred during an early season trip to the renowned Three Kings Islands. A mix of bottom & game fishing had already produced some good Kingfish (Yellowtail) and Hapuka (Wreckfish) to 145lbs.

    Three nice Striped Marlin complimented the growing catch total and when a game reel’s ratchet sounded at midday, it seemed as if a fourth was on its way. To everyone’s amazement this billfish turned out to be a Broadbill!

    Rarely seen during the hours of daylight and, if so, rarely feeding….. the chances of one powering in to take a lure, trolled at 8 knots, is very rare indeed.

    A small fish by NZ standards, at approx 220lbs, it responded in the manner expected of its species to put up “one hell of a scrap”.

    Tight lines.

    John Kimberley

  3. #18

    Default NZ Newsletter September 2009

    Our very short winter season for giant Bluefin Tuna is ending and, although, numbers were slightly down on previous years (though one boat still managed 25+ fish), there was still plenty of excitement & some notable captures.

    Most fish are now tagged & released but extra large fish & record claims are being taken. Fish as large as 700lb were released and one nearer 800lb was also let go, as a second angler took over the battle to relieve his exhausted mate!

    To date, there are claims in for a junior world record, ladies world record & a line class record.

    We are trying to protect this amazing fishery but, with the unpredictability of such things, the advice has to be… try it sooner than later.

    Our Marlin season seems to be extending over recent seasons and this winter has yielded some extraordinary news. Mid January to May has been the recognised period for as long as anyone can remember. More recently Stripeys have been taken into June, when anglers stop trying. A reliable sighting of a fish on the surface in July and offshore commercial boats taking Stripeys along with Big Eye Tuna, as I write, begs the question that a few eyebrows would be raised if greater angling effort were made in these unseasonable months.

    With water temperatures already up for the time of year & Snapper in roe already, we are hoping for some early inshore action from the pelagics.

    Tight lines,

    John Kimberley.

  4. #17

    Default ‘Icing on the cake’ in NZ

    It has been a truly memorable game fishing season in New Zealand.
    Our ban on commercial fishing for Marlin, seems to be paying real dividends.

    As previously reported, the numbers of Striped Marlin on the coast have been the best for years, with repeated stories of pack attacks and some very big specimens amongst them.

    I have received two reliable reports of Striped Marlin seen or hooked in only 30 metres of water and two further reliable reports of huge schools of Stripeys, both around fifty in number (but in different locations) herding up baitfish.
    In the last instance, the intensity of feeding on Saury made the fish completely disinterested in lures or live Skipjack Tuna. These were the visions of the Three Kings at its peak and the Wanganellas…not to be expected close to the coast.

    The Three Kings has returned to the best fishing in over 15 years, with one boat releasing no less then 18 Marlin in one afternoon! Green water has come in over the King Bank at the moment but we can expect a return to some spectacular fishing before the season ends…which could well go into June, this far north.

    Rumours of sightings of a large Black Marlin close to the rocks at the Bay of Islands led to a local angler loading his heaviest tackle (50lb class stand-up) into his tiny 14ft dinghy when venturing out for a day, targeting the local Yellowtail Kingfish population. When the live bait was taken, the suspected likely culprit of a Mako or large Kingfish was soon dismissed when the head & shoulders of a large Black emerged, thrashing its head from side to side & showering the tiny boat & lone occupant with spray. What follows is the similar story of what seems to happen every year. Assistance arrived, boat is towed for miles, five hours of extreme grunt & the fish of a lifetime is eventually lost. Estimated at over 650lbs, this isn’t as massive as some of the few Blacks encountered each season but each time it seems to be small boats, inexperienced crew & tackle too light to give a fighting chance of success.

    But the ‘icing on the cake’ for this truly memorable season has been three exceptional captures and pending NZ and/or world record claims.

    Two remarkable light tackle captures have been made & are current world record claims. A superb Striped Marlin of nearly 370lbs was taken on 6kg line and, maybe even more remarkably, a 300lbs Broadbill was eventually pulled through the transom doors after a tremendous battle on 8kg line!

    A very large Broadbill taken on 15kg line, would have resulted in another world record claim if a sneaky Mako hadn’t taken a big bite out of the sword’s tail, right at the end of the fight.

    Signs look very promising for some very good Broadbill fishing, if the changeable weather allows the pursuit of these truly awesome billfish.

    We’ve had a few sightings/losses of XL Blue Marlin this season and all this promise finally came to fruition yesterday when a pending NZ record fish thumped the scales down at Houhoura weigh-station to a massive 1,062.6lbs!
    Quite late in the season for Blues and, with the continued presence of Mahimahi, we hope for another 6 weeks or so of action from the Stripeys & more surprises to come!

    John Kimberley

  5. #16

    Default Game season still red hot down under!

    As we approach mid-March the big game fishing in New Zealand is still red-hot on the coast & is shaping up to be one of the best seasons for several years.

    Whilst occasional storms & shifting blue water makes relocating the heaviest concentrations of fish a necessity, the consistency of fishing remains remarkable.

    Double & treble hook ups are still commonplace and I have personally heard two reports on the VHF, where four Marlin have been hooked from “pack-attacks” and, on each occasion, there were only two anglers on board……..interesting!

    The size of the Striped Marlin continues to run high with the latest, highly impressive capture, pulling the scales down to 370lbs.

    One of the boats competing in the prestigious 8 day, NZ Nationals Tournament, tagged a huge Stripey which was reliably estimated at over 450lbs. As the fish was caught offshore at the Three Kings Islands on only the fourth day of the tournament, the decision was made to forego the return to port to weigh the potential world record fish. It proved a good decision as the boat finished second overall with 19 Marlin.

    Some good Blues continue to make their smash & grab raids before embarking upon their characteristic “ballistic” displays. A big fish was weighed at Waihau Bay recently, making 791lbs and a bigger fish was tagged & released from the same area. Its measurements calculated at a minimum of 790lbs and a maximum of 900lbs …a great fish by any fishery’s standards.

    A couple of nice Black Marlin have been taken; a feisty, “green” fish of approx 485 lbs was tagged & released from the Bay of Islands and a larger fish of 873lbs was brought to the weigh-station.

    The number of Yellowfin Tuna continues to be very disappointing but some very nice Big Eye Tuna have put in an appearance, particularly off Gisborne, several over the 200lb mark with a beauty of 280lbs landed at Mercury Bay.

    Mahimahi are present, with some good sized fish in the mix, though unsurprisingly not in the unprecedented numbers as last season.

    Shark numbers seem to be on the up with large numbers of Bronzies present, often in very shallow water & a definite increase in Mako numbers. The best Mako to date is a good fish of 497lbs but some real monsters have been seen, though the common practise now is to tag & release these magnificent predators… a good arm’s length!

    Tight Lines.

    John Kimberley

  6. #15

    Default Late start to NZ game season but what great action!

    In stark contrast to last season, the fish have really kept us waiting.

    Despite the early arrival of a few Blues and the occasional Striped Marlin, the main schools of fish didn’t arrive until the beginning of February.

    Whilst the Yellowfin Tuna are still noticeable by their absence and, as yet, Mahimahi and Spearfish are few and far between….the Striped Marlin have arrived in force!

    The Bay of Plenty has offered the best fishing in the earlier part of the season, with some very good Blues in the mix (best to date 616lbs) though the depressed economy has lead to many frustrated charter captains tied up at the dock.

    Now Tutukaka, further north, is really firing, with double & treble hook-ups a regular feature. Another positive note is the larger than average size of the fish. Most Stripeys are over 200lbs and several over 300lbs are regularly encountered, with the best to date being an impressive 363lbs.

    The fish are not particularly easy to hook and the smash & grab at the lures/teasers is often too fast and brief to allow time to switch a live-bait. This makes the recent and successful capture of 23 fish from 35 boats all the more remarkable. There would have been around 100 shots on this day.

    With the rate these fish pack on the weight as the season progresses, some record breakers later in the season, if not before, seems likely.

    There are some very good Blues also present, most escaping to date, it makes for very exciting fishing.

    Long may the season last!

    John Kimberley

  7. #14

    Default Weather restricts short NZ Bluefin season further

    The amazing Bluefin Tuna fishery off the South Island is preciously short in length; so bad luck with the weather over this winter’s season has made the available forays, out hunting these huge fish, even more precious.

    The smaller Southern Bluefin were around in July but, as of last year, the big Northern cousins didn’t arrive until a week into August. By mid-September the fishing is pretty much over for another year….but what fishing!

    One exhausted group caught seven large specimens in a forty-eight hour trip. Six fish were tagged & released with the seventh kept for the freezer, shared between the participants.

    T & R is becoming the norm for the fishery, with just exceptional fish weighed & the odd one kept for human consumption.
    This has to be good news for what is currently uniquely available in the world of big game fishing.
    These valuable fish have repeatedly been over-fished to near extinction elsewhere in the world.

    An extensive satellite tagging programme has taken place for the second consecutive year, which will enable the scientists to learn more about these impressive fish.

    Plenty of fish around the 500lb bracket were tagged with the largest estimated between 750 – 800lbs.

    A claim has been made for a women’s 130lb line class world record.

    As the days become longer and the sun starts to feel warmer, the many fine weather fishermen are dusting off the tackle for the coming season.

    Albacore are already showing in the Bay of Plenty; both the size & numbers of Snapper & Yellowtail Kingfish will steadily increase and the first Marlin sightings are likely to be reported around Christmas…..can’t wait!

    Tight lines,

    John Kimberley

  8. #13

    Default NZ Game Season still full of hope.

    The continued La Nina weather pattern continues to frustrate the would-be hardcore game fisherman in New Zealand.

    With most of the tourist game fishing trips over, it is left to the serious fishos to pursue to game fish in the brief fine weather windows.

    With the water still warm and recent catches of Blue Marlin and Mahimahi, the potential is likely to be there, as the water cools, to still catch Striped Marlin on the coast even into early June.

    The past season has been one of the best ever for Mahimahi and, although still relatively few, the numbers of Wahoo caught have been much higher than usual.

    The season’s best Striped Marlin, just a shade less than 400lbs, has yet to be beaten but this is still a possibility as these fish are now fat after a summer’s feed.

    As an illustration of just what is possible in these waters; a top skipper has just returned from a 9 day safari to the Three Kings Islands (in rough conditions) with the following amazing catch statistics:

    32 Striped Marlin to 390lbs tagged & released, 2 Blue Marlin approx 500lbs lost, 180lbs Yellowfin lost on the leader, no less than 10 Broadbill to over 600lbs in battles lasting up to 9hours, 6 of these fish were tagged & released.
    A further 9 Swords lost during the fights.

    There’s still plenty to aim for in the big game stakes until the giant Bluefin Tuna fishing gets underway in mid-July.

    Tight Lines!

    John Kimberley
    Fishingpro New Zealand

  9. #12

    Default It's hard to call - down under!

    March 2008.

    What a strange season we are experiencing off the coast of New Zealand.

    As per my earlier reports, warm water came in early and the Mahimahi & Blue Marlin were well ahead of schedule but the Striped Marlin didn’t seem to have quite got the message!

    As is often the case during the La Nina weather pattern we are currently experiencing, Blue Marlin numbers are increased and the presence of the, usually more commonplace Striped Marlin, are reduced.

    Yellowfin Tuna numbers have been fairly consistent, though fluctuating at times, with good average sizes and the best fish to date of 204 lbs may have toppled the NZ record if it hadn’t been left on ice for 3 days before weighing.

    Striped Marlin have been wholly unpredictable. These are our “bread & butter” game fish but didn’t follow the Yellowfin or precede the Blues and Mahimahi in any great numbers or concentration. It seems that the main concentration may have headed down the “wild” west coast.

    The Three Kings Islands have been firing with daily multiple catches commonplace. A trip here is usually a 5 day adventure but one boat rushed through the night during a weather window, fished a single day & returned through the following night…result 11 Marlin tagged & released!

    Blue Marlin have been present a little further south, with a couple of “horses” seen which repeatedly looked at both lures & livebaits, but decided against lunch!
    A few Wahoo have been taken here and there are signs that the Broadbill season could be a good one, with one boat hooking four (though later lost) in a single night.

    The Blue Marlin catches have certainly been the prominent feature of the season, making our usual average of 400lbs look small. There have been a number of fish over 600lbs so far, with the best reaching 876lbs & 972lbs.
    The latter trembled the existing NZ record of 1,015lbs but the fact that many private vessels are out on the water, geared up for Stripies and with little or no experience of Blues, means that record fish are being lost.
    Frequent reports have been coming in of reels spooled and fish lost afters hours of one-sided battles.

    Black Marlin are encountered every year, but by accident rather than intention.
    If a boat leaves it’s lures out late into shallower water or happens to run over one in transit, then explosive action sometimes follows. Our Blacks are linked to the Cairns population & are usually large and usually lost!
    Again the tackle is usually inadequate and the two most recent incidences proved this, both lost after 5 hour battles.

    Update. 2nd April 2008: Blue Marlin are still being taken along with Mahimahi and the Striped Marlin have been showing up in big numbers on the west coat, with up to 20 shots a day! Best Stripey to date, a fantastic fish from Hokianga, just sort of the 400lb mark.
    A top boat has just returned from the Three Kings, having fished this area for 4 days catching 12 Stripies, a Blue around 700lbs and an incredible 4 Broadbill!

    North Cape and Houhoura have enjoyed exciting action from packs of Stripies, though live bait has usually necessary to get a firm hook hold.
    Whether any significant game fishing action returns south of Whangaroa before the season ends is hard to call.

    John Kimberley

  10. #11

    Default The New Year Blues (NZ)

    New Year was welcomed along with the early arrival of Blue Marlin.

    First contacts were lost, one after 5 hours on 24kg tackle!
    The first official Blue was tagged & released from the Bay of Islands on 7th January and the biggest so far weighed in at 566lbs.

    The best Stripey so far has been a fat fish of 317lbs and, on the 14th January, the best Yellowfin pulled the scales down with a thump to a fantastic 204lbs!

    This is the biggest YFT for 24 years and very close to the National Record of 209 lbs.

    We are currently feeling the effects of the diminishing tail-end of a tropical cyclone.
    Whilst this will push in more of the fabulous blue water, it has also meant another frustrating spell for boats tied up unable to get out.

    John Kimberley


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