Surfcasting gear, tips and techniques

A long rod (14 to15ft) will enable you to keep the line over the waves or weed.
A shorter rod will enable to apply more pressure on a big fish (10 to 12ft).
13 to 14ft rods offer maximum cast but 12ft is still a very popular rod for a mixture of rock and surfcasting.
2 or 3 pce are preferred for easy transportation and don't reduce your cast at all with glass to glass connections.
High content carbon-fibre (graphite) are the best for casting and applying pressure on the fish.
Fibreglass or eglass rods are more robust but don't cast as quite as far. They are normally heavier to use depending on the blank thickness
Breakage – Be careful when transporting your rods that they don't get knocked or damaged. This will weaken the blank and they may break at some stage when you least expect it. A 'pvc' plumbing down pipe is good transportation tube and a material or canvas cover will protect your rod in tranzit too.
Guides – ceramic guides need to be checked for chips and breakage. A chip in the ceramic will cut through you line when casting or striking fish. In this case, cut the binding on the guide and take it off. You can still fish without a guide but it will need to be replaced asap. Quality hard chrome guides are good for rockfishing and generally tougher. Check them for grooves (especially if you are using braid) as this will also Frey the line or cut it off.
For a free spool rod it needs the guides on the opposite 'spine of the rod' than for fixed spool reels(eggbeaters). You need more guides on a freespool (overhead) rod so the line never touches the blank when under full load – same with eggbeater rods.
NZ made rods
The kilwell powerplay series of rods are well known NZ made products and offer a wide range and good quality. Price range from $450 - $800. Many anglers buy kilwell blanks and make their own.
Composite developments also make a nice surfcaster called plumb-fibre and there is the veritas 14ft nano rod
The distance casting record in NZ is now around 250 mtrs.. Casting 150mtrs now is pretty standard which is amazing considering 100mtrs used to be a good cast a decade or two ago.
Imported rods vary in quality and price. Prices start at $45 and the skys the limit. If you spend $150 to $200 yo can get a high content graphite rod which has the capability to cast over 150mtrs.
We do sell a lot of 12 to 13ft fibreglass rods for $50 - $85 which are good to get you started without breaking the bank.
The penn silverado and slammers and okuma solaris, axeon and predator rods are all big distance casting. The shimano beastmasters and daiwa elimimators are both tougher graphites with more robustness and a reasonably big cast. All these rods go for around $150 - $225.

Making your own rod
For the investment of a blank and some guides you can make up a rod and save $100 - $200 from buying madeup ones. You can make the rod to your on specifications with your kind of guides (depending on price or how robust you need the rod and if it is a freespool or fixed spool rod (or both)
Its easy to bind on guides and glue the reel seat, grips and butt on. All you do is mix super strength aryldite and bind the guides (you can copy a rod from the shop for spacing). Where the blank bends more that's where you need more guides. You need to find the 'spine' of the rod and then sellotape the guides on. Run some line through the guides and bend the rod to see if the line touches the blank anywhere. If it does then you need more guides there. Grab the rod and pretend to cast. This will tell you where to put the reel seat (where it is most comfortable for you). Some people like a long butt section and some shorter.

There are two main kinds of reel used by NZ surfcasters.
Eggbeater or fixed spools as they are called are good to learn how to cast and work well for distance casting too. They do suffer from line twist but are very good reels preferred my the majority of the NZ surfcasting fraternity. Freespools or overhead reels are preferred by some for their line capacity gears and drag systems being more capable for larger fish (kingfish, rays and sharks) and also because the line does not twist like when using the eggbeater reels. They also have a louder clicker when a fish takes off and you are not watching the rod. However the are much harder to cast, especially long distance.
Some fixed spool reels have a XOS longcast spool which is common these days and gives about 10 – 15% bigger casts. Prices start at about $100 for XOS longcast reels. For a standard eggbeater reel prices start at about $45. i recommend spending $150 plus on a reel to get reasonable quality which will last a long time with standard maintenance.

General maintenance
After a days fishing wipe off the salt and sand with a damp cloth. You might need to get an old toothbrush into the hard to reach places to remove sand. Make sure the bail arm roller is rolling.
Back off the drag. Spray with innox or similar anti salt product which wont harm the line or drag washers etc. the eggbeater reels should have the spool taken off and grease the rotor (the bit that goes up and down) and remove sand and salt. Also unscrew the handle and lubricate.

Setting the drag
It's personal preference to fish soft drag and tighten it up before striking a fish or to fish medium to heavy drag so you can strike the fish without altering it. Bait-runner eggbeater reels are good because you can have light drag set and as soon as you turn the handle it goes into medium to heavy drag

Braided line is good because it has minimal or no stretch and enables you to feel bites are hard to detect in nylon. It also has a very thin  and you can get more line on your spool. Personally diameter. I prefer using braid for these reasons.
Special casting braid like fireline, matrix pro, titanium has a little more memory and casts better (comes off the spool easier than other braid). Also being thinner you can get more capacity on your spool. Being thinner it can get frayed easier on the rocks.
Braided microfibre 'spectra' or dyneema braid can tangle when putting in a big cast but is tougher on the rocks, especially the braided microfibre or 'specta' braid.
Nylon or monofilament is a darn site cheaper and is still at the present time more popular for surfcasters. This may well change with prices coming down on braid and special braid developed for casting. It stretches 15 – 20% which sometimes can be an advantage if a big fish takes off.

It depends on how long your are fishing and the terrain you are fishing for how many sinkers and the sizes you need. For big casts the torpedo sinker is good 4 – 5oz, the gripping the bottom (to keep tight line and detect bites) the upside down pyramid or breakaway sinkers are good.
Running sinkers are good in some locations but a sinker at the bottom enables a better cast.
Connecting the sinker on with lighter line will help it snap off in a snag. Too lighter line and you will loose too many sinkers. The scud or stealth sinker (like a spoon) do not snag up as much and are good for rock terrain while still giving you a big cast. Berley cage sinkers are a very good way of berleying while doing big casts while surfcasting.
Breakaway sinkers grip in to the sand then the wires detach when retrieved.

Swivels and clips
You certainly need swivels to stop line twist with fixed spool (eggbeater) reels but they are not as important on freespool reels. Personally I prefer to keep the metal bits to a minimum but it can handy to clip on traces

Beak or octopus hooks are still a common surfcasting hook, but slowly recurves or circles are taking over as they are self setting. 1 – 3/O hooks are a common size for much fishing with 4 – 6/O better for bigger fish like large snapper and kingfish.

Extra gear
It pays to be prepared. This list is a guide only
Torch, Spare batteries and bulb, cotton x 2, knife (and spare), wet weather gear and spare clothing, first aid kit, water and food, spare hooks, sinkers and swivels, traceline, spool of line (in case you loose the line on your reel), Chilly bag or bin - to keep bait frozen and fillets fresh. Spare tip and rod guide, multitool, insulation tape, matches, beachspike (x2)
Try and keep you gear to a minimum if you are carrying it in. also use waterproof containers or bags
so the salt or rain water doesn't get into everything.

A good robust pack is a great way of transporting your gear to location. The good ones are more comfortable which 'ergonomic' straps and frame. A 10 litre bucket with lids is good for gear, bait or fish storage and a good seat.

How to read a beach (where to fish)
Some parts of the beach are better fishing than others. To find these you need to find if there are any reefs, rocks, weed, channels and gutters out there. The fish often hang out on the edge of a reef or weed bank or on the edge of a drop-off, in a deeper channel or where there is food (ie shellfish, crabs, small fish).
1 You might be able to see some darker water indicating rocks or deeper water, you might be able to see a different colour of water (fish sometimes like the cleaner bluer water, sometimes the stirred up greener or brown water might be full of food and a good place for the fish to hang out.
2 By climbing up a hill and looking down with Polaroid glasses you can see the reef, weed or deeper or shallower water. A gut is a deeper hole or area where the food source can be.
3 Watch where the waves build up and disappear, this will show you the shallower or reefy areas (where the waves build up) and the deeper or non reefy area where the waves disappear or get smaller.
4 Throw a sinker out at different places along the beach and slowly wind it in. If it gets stuck or snagged this will indicate a rock or reef or weed.

How to get a bigger cast
1. Use a XOS long cast reel (with longer spool).
2. Spool up with 6-8 kg (quality) nylon or 8 - 10kg casting braid and a tapered casting leader.
3. Use a high content graphite rod 12 – 14ft
4. Use a 4 – 6oz sinker (aero-dynamic shape)
5. Use a bait clip, impact shield or imp clip to stop the bait from flying around
6. Use a aero-dynamic shape bait
7. One bait rather than two will give a better cast
8 .Improve your actual casting technique.

Rigs and terminal tackle and gear
With wind or swell running an upside down pyramid sinker grips into the shingle and helps you keep tight line and detect bites. Small hooks between #1 and 2/O get more hookups than using larger 3 to 4/O hooks. You need to use strong hooks and don't go too hard on a fish to risk pulling the hook.
A one or two hook ledger rig or a pulley rig are the preferred rigs for our coastline.

Extra gear - a sturdy beachspike, spool of cotton or bait elastic x 2 (for tying on baits), headlamp and torch (or lantern) for nightfishing, 2 x knives, bait board, chilly bag or bin.

Where the fish are found
Often fish can be on the open or in a gutter, dropoff or edge or a bank but they can also be found on the edge of a reef. The fish can sometimes be in close to shore, don't discount a short cast especially for kahawai, trevally, moki and tarakihi
With the rising tide the swell stirs up the decaying weed and sandhoppers anywhere on a shingle beach. This is where fish often feed. Smaller hooks and bait can be more effective here Big resident fish are more likely to feed around a particular rock and be susceptible to bigger baits.

Crayfish, crab, paua gut, tua-tua, prawn or mussel all tied on with cotton and are good baits for fish like moki, tarakihi, snapper and trevally. Pilchard, bonito (skipjack tuna), blue mackerel, trevally are all baits used as cubes or strip baits and are good on snapper, kingfish, kahawai, trevally, gurnard and other fish key points - The fresher the better. Cover the hook with bait and leave the barb pro-truding. Small baits seem to work better when the fish are hard to catch.

Berlying up a spot certainly helps. You can throw it in, use berley cage sinkers or put a dispenser into the water (on outgoing tide) or into a nearby stream.

Best times of the day
Primarily the turn of light or after dark are the best times on shallow beaches. Deeper beaches and rocks or wharfs can produce good fishing during daylight hours. A rising tide can be good and the midpoint between moonrise and set can also be good.

The ledger rig with one or two hooks is the most common rig for most surfcasting in Wellington.
4 - 5oz sinker (either torpedo for rough ground or upside down pyramid or breakaway for clean ground. 1 - 4/o hooks, 25lb line is good but some folks use lighter line with a shock leader (for a big cast), or fish heavier line for real snaggy country. Cottoning on your baits for bottom fishing is a must.

The pully rig – the hook clips into the bait clip (just above the sinker) prior to casting and detaches when the sinker hits the water. This is one of the best rigs for big distance. The bait clip can also be an impact shield or imp clip.

The running rig – The sinker can sit on top of the sinker or the swivel and can be 1/4oz up to 6oz depending on conditions
mainline 20lb sinker swivel trace (50lb) hook. The sinker runs backwards and forwards along the main line on top of the swivel. You can also use a running rig with no swivel or get rid of the sinker completely and just strayline with a hook on the end of you line

- The running rig is good for shorter cast surfcasting, rockfishing and boatfishing.
- Sinker weight can vary from 1/8th oz up to 20oz depending on casting, current and water depth
- You can have a 2nd hook running on top the main hook or have it fixed with a snood knot a inch or 2 up from the main hook

Species of Fish
Blue moki - short casts just behind the breakers – caught on shingle beaches on the edge of a reef – bait cray, crab, paua gut, tua-tua, prawn or mussel all tied on with cotton. Fish the turn of light or after dark.
Spotty sharks – Fish after dark. Crab, prawn or crayfish baits, long casts on the shingle away from rock and reef.
Gurnard – fish the sand, 3/o hooks, fillet baits, Normally bigger cast produce more fish.
Red cod - are caught mainly after dark on the sand
kahawai and couta are caught anywhere, Pilly or skipjack tuna bait is the best for these fish
Trevally – skipjack tuna ad pilchard baits, prawn or cray. Winter can be good as well as summer

Copyright 2017 Pete Lamb fishing Ltd.
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Part One - Getting Prepared

Rockfishing or Land Based Gamefishing (fishing for big fish from the land) will always be one of my favorite pastimes. The thing I love about rockfishing is the visual contact you have with the fish. The challenge to catch them and the variety of fish from small stuff to monsters that you are likely to encounter. Often you will see a fish take a bait right at your feet and spit it out without hardly giving you a nibble. This could be a 10kg snapper or 30kg kingfish. Its amazing how such a big fish can take the bait off your hook and not give a big bite. The other thing that's always amazed me is how the same sized fish will swim happily through the berley trail eating minced skipjack tuna or pillie cubes but will not take your bait unless it is thrown right in front of its mouth. Even then if it notices the hook or line it will bypass it for another morsel of
It is my theory that the hungrier the fish, the more likely it is to take your bait. In this circumstance you can get away with a larger hook or heavier traceline.
If the fish as a full gut then it becomes wise or cagey and is difficult to hook. In this situation the smaller your hook, lighter your line and more tastier your bait, the more likely you are to get a hookup.
If your hook is too small it will bend out or get pulled out of the fishes mouth with the pressure.
If your line is too light the fish will snap it off or cut it off on the rocks or kelp.

Decide where you are going to fish for the day
The weather conditions will often dictate this for you. If the weather is prefect I will go to my best spot straight away. A good spot normally has deep water, kelp, close proximity to a food source and closeness the continental shelf.
Being as far away from civilisation as possible also helps. The less fishing pressure the spot has, the better the fishing. Theres nothing better and more exciting to fish a spot no one or few people have ever fished before.

Get your tackle and bait ready

A checklist is good

Rods and Reels - The guides on the rods need to be checked for chips or breaks and the reels need to have smooth drags and spooled up with fresh good quality line. These are the three sets I take out:
A 15 to 24kg outfit for big kingies - I use a Daiwa VIP 24kg standup rod and 600 or 900H Sealine star-drag reel spooled up with 24 or 37kg nylon. I have used 37kg braid off the rocks and found it very good for anti-abrasion. You have to be careful how much drag pressure you apply as the braid is unforgiving in the stretch department (has none) and there is a chance of busting off.
A 10 to 15kg outfit for snapper, smaller kingies and general fishing (for snapper and trevs I use a 12ft carbon-fibre surfcaster with an SL or SG50H Daiwa Sealine reel - these are good casting sets and very robust.
A light tackle outfit to catch bait and have a bit of fun on the smaller stuff. A 4 - 6kg outfit suits me, some prefer lighter.

A good sturdy pack - I use a heavy duty tramping pack, internal frame, which is kind on your back when you carry a big weight. These retail at $300 to $500 but are worth there weight in gold. The abu fishing pack at $75 is a good cheap one if you want something sturdy without too much expense

10 or 20 litre bucket - Good for carrying bait in and fish out and making up berley brews through the day. It is handy to have a lid which doubles as a bait board.

A chilly bag or sack - good to keep you bait and fish in good condition.

Boots or sandshoes - must be comfortable and have a good grip.

Wet weather gear and spare clothing - I have been using Proflex wet weather gear lately - strong, lightweight and breaths well. Always be prepared for cold (polyprop) and hot weather (hat, sunscreen, glasses).

Torch and spare batteries - I often carry a spare torch for my mates who forget theirs.

Polaroid sunglasses are imperative for the extra vision they give you for fish spotting.

Safety gear - rope, life jackets (inflatable), first aid kit.

Gaff - a good long one - 2 mtr extendable to 4 mtr.

Hooks - #10 for baitfish, 1/O for trevs or mackerel, 3/O for schoolie snapper, 5/O for big snapper and schoolie kings and 10/O livebait hooks for mega kings and snapper.
Lately we have been using 14/0 mustad tuna circle hooks for livebaiting. You get a nice lip hook almost every time.

Line – 15kg nylon or 24kg braid is good for big snapper and medium kingis. 24Kg nylon or 37kg braid is good for big kingis and xos snapper. Lighter tackle (2 – 8kg) is good for a bit of fun and catching bait.

Spare nylon - a spool of 10 - 15kg in case you get spooled by a ray or kingi.
Trace line - 24kg for snapper, 60 - 80kg for kingies.
Sinkers - 4oz for casing and some 1/4 and 1/2 ounce running sinkers for straylining.
Lures - Casting jig and poppers.
Balloons, cotton, 2 x knives, swivels

Bait - per person - 2kg pillie, 1 - 2 skipjack tuna or blue mackerel, 500gm squid Berley - around 2 - 4kgs per person.
I only use fish oil for mixing into kahawai and 'couta frames. I beleive the natural oils from pilchard or tuna should not be compromised.
If I want to cut back on the weight of my pack then I take half the amount of berley and take bran or rolled oats to mix with water and your brew on location. You may find a stash of kinas at low tide for berley which will help create a good berley trail.
Pilchards – the best dead bait for kingis and best berley when cubed.

Gimbal and harness - wear it once you’ve got your livebait in the water.

Water - 2 litres per person per day.

Food - plenty of high energy stuff - fruit, sandwiches, muesli bars, chocolate.

Share the gear out evenly through the team and to the physical capabilities of each person Once you’ve reached location, put a big bait out. I have seen many a good fish caught on the first cast of the day. I like to have the first line out in the water and have learnt how to tie knots fast to make sure this happens. When I think about it, I also like to have the last bait out in the water at the end of the day, caught some good fish then too.

Anyway, now it's time to make the berley brew and catch your livebait.

One of the most important things for rockfishing is using good quality berley and having plenty of it. The best stuff I reckon is pilchard followed closely by skipjack tuna, especially for kingfish. For snapper and trevs crustacean berley is good, i.e. smashed up or minced kina, paua gut and crayfish bodies.

My best method of berleying is making up a bucket brew and ladling out small or large quantities on a regular basis into the water, preferably a gut with backwash. This helps disperse the berley. While doing this I keep a good watch on what is swimming through the trail and present the right bait or lure on the right tackle to the right fish. No point in putting
3kg tackle out for 30kgs of steam rolling kingfish, however 3kg line is perfect to catch your kahawai for livebait.

Putting berley into a tough berley bag, tying it onto a rope and dangling it into the water is another good berley method for rockfishing and works in combination with the bucket brew very well. It is important to ration the berley for the day and have a bit spare for when the kingis turn up or if nothings happening you can ‘berley up a storm’. Cubing pilchards into the
water is another excellent way of attracting kingis.

Set up your gear and catch a livebait
Your livebaiting kit needs to be assembled and rigged up with the right terminal tackle.
Balloon tied on (I like 4 to 8 strands of cotton), hook checked for sharpness and nylon checked for frays.
Once you have caught your livebait you need to deploy with the right size hook and breaking strain of trace. For 1kg + livebaits I use a 10/O livebait hook or 14/O Mustad tuna circle and about 6 - 8 mtrs of 80 - 100kg trace. (I’m after a BIG kingi and I don’t want it to get away)
The kahawai is one of the easiest livies to catch and once put out is very good at attracting kingfish. The best way of catching a kahawai is to strayline a pilchard with or without out a small running sinker. Another good way but can result in deep hooking the kahawai is to fish a pilly under a float. When doing this use a small circle (recurve) hook.
Lures work sometimes but often the kahawai will get off the hook, which can be frustrating.
When the kahawai are hard to catch use your lightest tackle and a small hook (1/O or #1) and a small cube of skipjack tuna or pilly. That is a good way of catching a trevally or even a blue cod. Jigging some sabiki flies will also give you a live bait when nothing else works.


Part Two - Catch a Real Monster!
In New Zealand we are blessed with a host of fish species. There is no better place to catch a variety than off the rocks. Many anglers only target snapper, trevally and kingfish, and there's nothing wrong with that. But some folks (including myself) like to target something a bit bigger. If you would like an XOS kingfish, snapper, trevally, marlin, shark, ray or tuna, the following information is for you.

Many anglers like a 2.5 - 3 meter 15 - 24kg LBG rod for keeping your line away from the rocks and kelp and
throwing the odd cast. I prefer a short standup rod for the extra power you can apply on the fish.
It is the same rod I use for deepwater fishing, a 1.75 meter 24kg Daiwa VIP.
Graphite rods are great for casting and for power but sometimes dont take the knocks.
Heavy fibreglass or eglass are good for this.
Safety gear
Life jackets are becoming mandatory for sensible anglers. I use an inflatable, as it is not too bulky or too
hot to wear. First aid kit, heavy pliers (for chopping out an imbedded hook), knife, rope and rope chucker
(in case someone falls in). You might consider one or all of the following to get help in an emergency - flares, EPIRB (emergency locater beacon), VHF radio and cellphone.
Wearing a comfortable gimbal and harness helps to apply maximum pressure on a fish before it finds a reef or the end of your spool. It also helps avoiding back or shoulder strain.
Nylon - I generally match the weight of line to the maximum weight of fish I am targeting (up to 80lb). I use the following IGFA (international game fishing association) line classes - 10, 15, 24 and 37kg.
Traces, leaders - This is the heavy nylon tied onto the end of your mainline to stop abrasion on the fishes mouth and the rocks.
The leader is normally twice the breaking strain of the main line on your reel but this will depend on the size of fish and terrain you are fishing.I use the maximum length allowed by the IGFA (4.5 metres for up to 10kg, 9 metres
for over 15, 24 and 37kg).  I prefer a ball bearing swivel instead of a 3 way.

The drag pressure on the reel is normally set between a quarter and one third of the breaking strain of the main line. If you do not have scales to test this then remember the following - a litre of liquid is equal to a kilo of weight (tie a 5 litre water container onto the end of your rod for 5kgs of pressure).

Your gaff needs to be longer than normal for safety on the rocks - I use a two-meter gaff extendable to four metres. For big sharks and marlin a flying (detachable head) gaff might be considered.

Gloves are a good idea for the person tracing the fish prior to gaffing.

Safety tip - Be very careful when tracing, gaffing and releasing a fish that is lively - it is easy to get pulled in if the leader gets wrapped around the tip of your rod or around your hand. Sharks are always unpredictable and with their bulk and teeth, need a great deal of respect.

Always remember - you and your mates safety is paramount.


Catching a billfish from the land is still one of the pinnacles of Sportfishing yet to be achieved in NZ. Many have tried, few have hooked up but no one to my knowledge has got close. The last hookup I heard of was at Lottin Point a couple of years ago when a marlin took a live kahawai set for kingfish close into the rocks. I think the reel was a TLD25 spooled with 24kg
nylon. The fish jumped a few times before busting off.
I'm pretty sure, but not certain I hooked one at Cape Brett a number of years ago. We saw the dorsal and tailfin out of the water as it took the live bait set close to the rocks. We never saw the bill but it cleaned out 400 metres of 24kg in less than 30 seconds before breaking the line.
After looking at pictures and talking to people we picked it to be a black probably over 150kgs.

My favorite story was from a friend fishing an offshore rock at Cape Kari Kari in the Far North.
He hooked a good-sized striped marlin in the morning, which emptied a 50 wide reel full of 24kg nylon in a matter of a few minutes. It jumped a few times before breaking off. Later in the day a bigger marlin stuck. Before being spooled, two keen men jumped into their three meter inflatable and continued the battle while being towed out to sea.
Another friend in a Sportfishing vessel saw the two guys chasing the fish in their inflatable approximately five miles out from the Cape. They went over to investigate and saw the battle in full swing. They transferred over the bigger boat and continued the fight. About five hours after hooking the fish, a large black estimated over 300kgs came close to the boat. Darkness was not far away and the petrol supply wasnt great so the angler gave it a last ditch effort to
bring the fish within gaffing range. Then SNAP!!!, the line departed and the fish swam slowly away. Bugger!

In order to catch one from the land you need a passion for adventure, a lot of patience, some serious tackle and access to some of the offshore rocks and headlands in the upper North Island. You should also be in touch with the Gamefishing fraternity and find out when the fish are close into shore and be able to get a mission going at short notice.
The tackle - From my experience an 80 wide lever drag reel spooled up with 37kg braid and a 24-37kg standup Gamefishing rod is a good set. You should be able to store about 1500 - 2000 metres of braid on the reel and I would put about 100 meters of 80lb nylon on the end of the braid for a bit of a shock absorber (braid doesnt stretch, mono does). I would run a 9-meter trace of 400lb mono and a 16/O Mustad tuna circle hook. Any livebait will do - it?s just a matter of always having a bait in the water. A kite may be an advantage in getting a bait out to suitable water.
The hook up could happen at your feet, 50 metres out or 200 plus metres out. If I were to target a billfish again from the rocks, I would not be putting out light gear into the water just in case a marlin jumped onto it - this has happened a few times already. So far all of the marlin hookups in NZ have been lost due to inadequate tackle or the fish being too big and the angler has been unable to stop them.
Locations - (to name a few) Lottin Point, Cape Runaway, Cape Brett, Cape Kari Kari, North Cape and any other offshore island or rock which has the blue water around it in the summer.
Time of year - January to April (depending on the season)
Black marlin have been caught up to around 120kg and broadbill swordfish to 6kgs landbased in Australia.
In NZ we would hope to catch a small striped marlin of 60 - 80kgs. Unfortunately most of the marlin that come in close to the rocks are large blacks over 150kgs. That is why we haven't seen a capture yet - they are too big.

Sharks are a much more obtainable big fish from the rocks and there have been many good captures already around the country. The big ones have mainly been Bronze Whalers. They grow up to and over 150kgs and are awesome fighters. Most of them are caught from the Waikato northwards and often frequent harbors to feed and spawn through the summer
The premiere shark would have to be the Mako. Big Makos have been hooked, lost and come near to being landed, but so far only small fish up to about 50kgs have been caught. They are a worthy target for the serious LBG fisho.
There have been plenty of Blue and Seven Gill sharks taken up to approximately 80kg, both of which are not known for their fighting prowess but do offer a challenge when they get big Threshers, White Pointers and Porbeagles are all possibilities from various parts of the country and all grow big and fight hard offering serious challenges. Only juvenile specimens have been caught so far.
Tope (school) sharks are a lot of fun and get caught up to about 35kgs. They jump, strip off heaps of line and are a worthy recipient of their IGFA status.
The main thing about sharks is that you need steel trace to catch them (about the same breaking strain as the size of shark you wish to catch), heaps of berley and dead baits rather than live ones.
I would use similar tackle to target big sharks as marlin.

So far there have been a handful of skipjack tuna caught - mainly from Cape Kari Kari. They have all been small fish up to around 5kgs. There has only bee one yellowfin tuna caught and officially weighed, witnessed and ratified. I was the3 lucky angler and it  was caught at Cape Brett, weighed 9kgs on 6.8kg line on a lure and took 15 minutes to land.
We have seen many yellowfin tuna free jumping in the Lottin Point area but have only once had a good-sized live bait out in the area when this has happened.
Ideally you could catch one on a casting lure (popper or jig) or on a small livebait or dead bait.
Depending on the size of fish you will want as much line as possible to stop the first run.
For a fish of 20 - 30kgs you will probably need about 350 plus metres of 15kg nylon but I'd feel safer with 500m of 24kg. Again braid is an option because you can fit so much more line on the spool.
They have been caught off the rocks to 100kgs in Australia.

These are the best and most easily targeted big fish off the rocks. They take lures, dead and livebaits and are a hell of a lot of fun to watch, hook and catch.
They test you and your tackle out to the max and are very well respected by all anglers. You can catch them almost all round the country during the warm summer months but all year round from East Cape northwards. I have seen the most and consistently the biggest in the eastern Bay of Plenty.
So far the record off the land is 42kgs taken by Richard Baker at Great Barrier.
I have seen a couple of fish landed in the 40kg size bracket but lost a few as well.
I use 37kg nylon and 9 metres of 100kg trace when targeting a biggie.
Earlier this year at Matakoa point (East Cape), we lost a fish on this gear that could have been over 50kgs. My mate Tiny (who is around 23 stone and 7 foot tall) hooked into it in the first hour of the trip. It took about 100 metres of line off the spool at 12kgs of pressure and then stopped. We got some mono back on the spool before it took off again and broke the
main line to win its freedom. On the same trip we saw yellowfin and makos free jumping, had a possible marlin sighting as well as some incredible kingi action.

Pound for pound I believe they are as good as kingfish and probably harder to catch. They grow to around 10kgs in our waters. Over the years I have seen a few around the 8 - 10kg mark, hooking some of them but landing only one at about 8.5kg. They can sometimes be very hard to catch especially around very rocky terrain. As soon as you hook them they go
straight into the kelp. Normally they don’t like taking heavy line and big hooks. You may get lucky every now and then.
In Hawaii giant trevally GTs get caught over 100 pounds off the rocks most seasons.

For a real monster I fish 24kg nylon and baits no smaller than my fist. Some people would think that’s crazy or unfair on the fish but we fish very rough ground and I want a 15kg plus fish. There is also a chance of picking up a groper/hapuku when you are fishing deep water as well. The wintertime is great for big snaps and the far north is a good location,
although anywhere with deep water and kelp will do. In fact you dont really need deep water, especially after dark. While I'm fishing for the bigger stuff it's always nice to have a big bait out on the bottom for a snapper.

Rays also offer a challenge for landbased anglers, especially eagle rays. We call eagle rays affectionately reverse marlin because the stick comes out of the wrong end. Eagles are turbo charged bundles of fighting machine. I have had many a good scrap with these fish over the years and truly respect them.
Stingrays are big but don’t offer nearly the same fight pound for pound. Most of the time we tend to leave them alone.
A stingray fight is more of a tug of war.
The real battle begins with these creatures if you decide to take them to the scales for a NZ record. All the rays
we catch we prefer to release. The same goes with sharks unless we want to cut up a small one for a feed.


Part Three - Landbased Gamefishing for Kingfish

Raising a fish I use a variety of techniques and tackle to target kingfish off the rocks. Livebaiting certainly seems to be the most successful form of catching them but lures and deadbaits have taken their fair share. I always have a lure ready to go and a straylining outfit in which I can throw out a whole pilchard or baby squid. My livebaiting outfit is normally a 24
or 37kg and my straylining sets 15 - 24kg. Sometimes I’ll fish lighter tackle if the fish is not a monster as it’s nice to match the tackle to the size of fish. Occasionally a kingi storms in and takes the bait on a ‘blind strike’. I try and match the tackle to the expected size of fish in the area.

Livebaiting is certainly one of the best ways of attracting and catching kingfish. However, if the kingi doesn’t take the livebait then it will often take a lure or deadbait. Having a livey in the water will often keep a kingi around and bring it into vision so you can attempt to catch them with another technique. Looking after your livebait is important. It is your ticket in the kingi lottery. Livebaits can be like kids. Take your eyes off them and they can cause mayhem, costing you money and at worst killing themselves. You may only get one livey for the day so don’t blow it. I have seen desperate LBG fisho's attempt mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on a dying bait when the kingis are rampant. You don’t want your livey to swim over other people’s lines and tangle them up either. It is your responsibility to stop this happening and this means keep a close watch.

If the livebait is behaving badly, keep it on a shorter or a longer lead (depending on circumstances). Having a livebait at my feet, one out about 50 metres under a balloon and one on a long drop (out about 100 - 200 metres) pretty much covers the territory well. The best livebait I have used are kahawai around the 1kg size if possible. A kahawai is never too big to put out. Kingis will easily take 10% of their own body weight and sometimes take 15 or even 20% if they are hungry. They can literally choke taking the livey down. Having a live kahawai out underneath a balloon is an awesome way of attracting kingfish. I also like having a live kahawai set right at my feet and keep it on a short lead - ball bearing swivel wound right up to the tip of the rod. This will often bring the kingfish right into view. If they don't take the livebait then you can often induce a strike with a lure or deadbait. Kahawai can sometimes be elusive so if you can't catch one, try a trevally, snapper or blue cod. They have all worked well for us at times. Mackerel and pilchards are top performers but sometimes get eaten by barracouta and big kahawai too easily. I have also had good success with piper and herrings.

If you can't catch your livebaits on location then catch them somewhere else and transport them in. A ten or twenty litre plastic bucket is good for this and on location a paddling or large rock pool make good livebait storage tanks. When doing this it is important to replace the water a few times in the first hour or so because they often regurgitate berley, which will dirty the water causing the livebait to die. Put a couple of fresh buckets of water into the pool every hour or so after that. Having an ‘airator’ in the pool will help pump the oxygen and keep the bait alive longer. Another good method is to have your livebaits in a cage in the water - a collapsible craypot with main hole stitched up is ideal for this.

Straylining deadbaits - whole fish or cubes. Kingfish love pilchard dead baits. I hook a pilchard through the eye socket with a 5 or 6/O hook and throw it out. Sometimes I thread the hook back through the pilly about half way down the body. Also tying the bait on with cotton is good for extra durability in casting. Having a small running sinker say 1/4 to 1oz is good to assist casting and to get the bait away from the seagulls that often hang around. Occasionally when the fish won’t take a pilly I will either thread 5 pillies on a hook or fish a single cube with a smaller hook and possibly a lighter trace. I like to work the bait at different speeds (fast and slow retrieval or a mixture of both). A good method is to let the bait sink down near the bottom then retrieve it fast and/or erratically back to the rocks. Skipjack tuna cubes, mackerel and chunks of squid have also been good baits on kingfish. At the end of the day a kingfish is a scavenger and will take just about anything if it is hungry. I have found flounder, spotties, mao mao and kelpies inside their stomachs.

Casting lures - Working a lure is hard work and takes dedication and perseverance.
They work well in conjunction with live and deadbaits and you can cover a lot of water with a lure. Casting and retrieving at great speed is certainly one of the more effective ways to catch kingfish but is good to try all speeds of retrieval (fast, slow and erratic). I like to let the lure sink half or all the way to the bottom before winding back in.
The popper is a surface lure that spurts out water all over the place and makes plenty of noise. It mimics a baitfish in trouble and is one of the best kingi lures for rockfishing.
A jig is a metal lure that is better for big distance casting and sinking down to the bottom.
The bibbed or bibless minnow is a lure that travels a meter or so underneath the surface and darts from side to side. These can be very effective.

Keep the berley trail going
The best berley for attracting kingis is certainly pilchard or skipjack tuna cubes. Feed them out into the water one by one at 30 seconds to one-minute intervals. The bucket brew and berley sack or cage (on a rope) also works well. I like to use all three methods at once.

The hookup
The best time to set the hook is when the kingfish has the bait in its mouth. It is hard to put a time frame on this because it is different on every fish. Most of the time I will strike within two to three seconds of the kingi taking the bait. Often I strike straight away if I can see the bait has gone inside the mouth. Strike too early and the bait and hook comes out. Too late and the fish either gets gut hooked or spits the whole thing out. The best way I have found lately is to use a strong recurve hook and pretty much start winding fast after the fish has taken the bait. The hook should set itself in the corner of the mouth. Have the drag setting on your reel set at about 30% of the line breaking strain. Once
you get used to things you can pull up to 50% but be careful not to get pulled in!

The fight
When you hook a kingfish they generally go berserk. They know where the reefs are and go straight for them in order to cut the line. You can either put maximum pressure on to stop the fish before it finds a reef or back the pressure right off and hopefully the fish will swim into clean open water. I like to put maximum pressure on straight away, then if I feel the fish in a reef, I back the pressure right off and let the fish go with a small amount of pressure.
It’s hard for the fish to cut the line when there is no pressure on. After giving it as much line as it wants I put a bit more pressure on and try winding it back in. If it takes off again I back the pressure off again.
Most of the time when the drag is set from 8 - 12kgs of pressure (fishing 24 or 37kg line) a 20 - 30kg kingi should take about 20 - 30 metres of line. There will be the odd time when the fish will take more than this especially if it is foul hooked.

The gaff
This is a vital time of the fight and potentially dangerous. Make a mistake here and it could be all over.
I tend to back the drag off a bit and take it easy on the fish. Hopefully the fish is tired and won’t cause too many problems. If the fight was a quick one the fish may still be ‘green’ or lively. Do not let the leader or trace get wrapped around the tip of the rod or around your hand as the fish may take off and pull you in.
The gaff-person must be patient and wait for the fish to swim in close to shore. A long gaff (3 - 4 metres) is ideal for getting closer to the fish, especially if there is a bit of a sea running. Do not take your eyes off the sea. You may need to lead the fish to a calm spot or where you can get close without the risk of a wave taking you out.
Place the gaff hook into the water and wait for the fish to swim over it. One hard positive shot is all that it should take. The gaff hook point should be razor sharp and the shot should be through the head if you’re taking the fish home or in the lip if you wish to release it.

Releasing a fish
The fish needs to be as healthy as possible when released to increase its chances of survival. Lip gaffing is important for starters. Handling it gently while out of the water, possibly with gloves or wet hands. Lay it on a wet sack and cover its head with a towel - this will usually stop it thrashing around and injuring itself. Get it back into the water as quickly as possible.
Take the hook out and either place the fish into the water or torpedo it from a low height. This may not be possible if there is a sea running but do what you can. It is certainly very satisfying to see a kingfish swim away.

Other key points
Terminal tackle
10/O livebait hook or 14/O Mustad tuna circle and about 6 - 8 mtrs of 80 - 100kg trace.
A ball bearing swivel attaching mainline to trace - balloon tied to top end of swivel with 4 - 8 strands of cotton (depending on livebait size). I use a long trace because I fish rough ground and don’t want the fish to get away.

Decide where you are going to fish for the day - the weather conditions will often dictate this for you. If the weather is prefect I will go to my best spot straight away. A good spot normally has deep water, kelp, close proximity to a food source and closeness the continental shelf.

I use a Daiwa VIP 24kg standup rod and 600 or 900H Sealine star-drag reel spooled up with 24 or 37kg nylon. A Gimbal and harness - wear it once you’ve got your livebait in the water.

Safety tips/gear
Rope chucker, life jackets, (inflatable), first aid kit, flares, cellphone/EPIRB or VHF.
Keep your eye on the sea at all times and don’t fish a place that has waves coming in especially on the rising tide.

Common sense prevails
– a fish is not worth your life.

LBG is not a matter of life or death its far more important than that!


Blue moki

Blue moki

Blue Moki are  the premeire 'southern' sport and table fish for surfcasters. They fight incredibly hard for there size and are dirty fighters heading for the reef and weed once hooked. The can be caught all year round but after the annual spawning run they are in good numbers and can be caught much easier. October through summer to autumn is the best time. The legal size limit for bluemoki is 40cms (this is when they mature). That is
about a 1kg fish.

Area they are found
- shingle beaches on the edge of a reef. Moki come in close to shore around the turn of light and feed around patches of weed. The most common thing we have found in their stomachs are small paua and brown crunched weed with a sandhopper like creature mixed into it. The can also be found around wharf structures and rocks With the rising tide the swell stirs up the decaying weed and sandhoppers anywhere on a shingle beach. This is where 'school' moki feed. Smaller hooks and bait can be more effective here

Big resident fish are more likely to feed around a particular rock and be susceptible to bigger baits.

Cray, crab, paua gut, tua-tua, prawn or mussel all tied on with cotton.
The fresher the better. Small baits seem to work better when the fish are hard to catch.

Berlying up a spot certainly helps. You can throw it in, use berley cage sinkers or put a dispenser into the water (on outgoing tide) or into a nearby stream. Crushed up crab, cray boddys, kina, mussell, prawn is all good product

When to fish
Primarily the turn of light or after dark are the best times. Sometimes you'll catch them during daylight hours. A rising tide can be good and the midpoint between moonrise and set can also be good.

Short casts just behind the breakers or next to a rock or reef.

The bite
Sometime moki suck the bait in and 'steamoff' like a run-away freight train. Other times they pick and suck the bait.

Rigs and terminal tackle and gear
With wind or swell running an upside down pyramid sinker grips into the shingle and helps you keep tight line and detect bites. Small hooks between #1 and 2/O get more hookups than using larger 3 to 4/O hooks. You need to use strong hooks and don't go too hard on a fish to risk pulling the hook.
10kg line is good but you may like to fish lighter or heavier depending on conditions and your target fish. Braid is very good for detecting bites (no stretch).
Many fishers use light line for a bit more fun and the fish find it harder to detect.

Rods and reels
12 – 13ft surfcasters are the preferred rod but smaller rods can be used in good conditions. Carbon fibre are preferred for the extra power. Free-spools and fixed-spool
reels are both used with no preference although free do have less line twist, a ratchet warning system and cast heavier line further.

The ledger rig with one or two hooks is the most common rig for most surfcasting in Wellington. 4 - 5oz sinker (either torpedo for rough ground or upside down pyramid or breakaway for clean ground). 1 - 4/o hooks, 25 to 40lb trace line

The running rig is a good rig for calm conditions. The sinker can sit on top of the sinker or the swivel and can be 1/4oz up to 6oz depending on conditions

You can have a 2nd hook running on top the main hook or have it fixed with a snood knot a inch or 2 up from the main hook

The pully rig – the hook clips into the bait clip (just above the sinker) prior to casting and detaches when the sinker hits the water. This is one of the best rigs for big distance. The bait clip can also be an impact shield or imp clip.
(right) - a selection of berley cage sinkers – tie the sinker onto a ledger rig and scrunch a mixture of berley and breadcrumbs into the cage. It will handle the cast and take about 5 minutes to ooze out in the water, attracting the fish to your baits. 3 – 4oz berley cages are the best for surfcasting.

Extra gear
- a sturdy beachspike, 2 x spool of cotton/ bait elastic (for tying on baits)
- headlamp and torch (or antern) for nightfishing
- 2 x knives, bait board , chilly bag or bin
- Food and drink, warm clothing
- 10 x 4 to 5oz sinkers, 20 x 1/O to 4/O hooks
- 10 swivels, spare nylon, rod tip, gumboots, wet weather gear, 1st aid kit, rope

© Copyright 2017 Pete Lamb fishing Ltd.
no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or
mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage and retrieval system without
permission in writing from the publisher.

Deepwater fishing 2019

Deepwater fishing 2019

Deepwater fishing for hapuku, bass and bluenose - October 2019

The PDF at the end has more photos in it.

Two revolutionary enhancements in tackle and gear help immensely while deepwater fishing. The low or non-stretch braided and fusion lines, and the GPS (Global Positioning System), particularly the chartplotter. 

Braided line has virtually no stretch allowing you to feel the fish bite, even a small scarpie can be felt in 300mtrs of water but a good bass, bluenose or puka will double the rod over and start thumping, even stripping line off the spool. 

The GPS allows you to pre-program the good fishing spots and get back to them without having to line up landmarks. When you get on your 'mark' you stop the boat and see which way you are drifting, reposition the boat, let your lines out then once you have 

For deepwater fishing the first thing you should do is obtain depth and bathymetric charts for the area you plan to fish. From these you can see where the fish are likely to live and plot some good looking fishing locations. You may consider obtaining a suitable depth sounder to get down to and give accurate readings to approximately 350 metres in depth. Colour sounders certainly give a much better picture than the single colour CD models. 1 kilowatt of grunt from the transducer is considered good for a sounder in the deep water.  

The GPS CHARTPLOTTER is a great tool for getting onto the spot, marking fish, seeing which way you are drifting and programming in new spots that look good and where you catch fish. These days you can a hardwired one for around $600 or for around $35 you can download the NAVIONICS (AUS + NZ) boating APP onto your smartphone or tablet. This not only gives you the depth charts but a bathymetric or sonar overlay which give you plenty more detail on the bottom.

The photos (left) is of Nicolson’s Trench on the Navionics app (sonar chart)

You can see the variations of the seabed and where the big dropoffs (heaps of lines together), banks, plateaus, circles and ‘squiggly bits’ - all indicate good terrain where the fish are likely to hang out.



Look for rock or reef structures where food (small fish and plankton) is abundant. 

With the bathymetric and depth charts take note of any interesting shallow patches, hills and the like that might catch a bit of back current and hold food for your target fish. The fish generally like the top of a gentle rise, seamounts and edges of canyons. You can take the coordinates off the chart, or use your chartplotter for accurate spots. Always keep a lookout on your sounder while travelling around the place for fish sign and interesting looking rock structures


Dirty water normally means hard fishing. Consistent catches frequently happen in clean blue water. Bass and ling don’t mind the dirty water so much 


NICHOLSONS TRENCH: is a canyon about 3 miles out from Sinclair Head running down to Turakerei Head and into Palliser Bay. It is approximately 1.5 miles wide. The good fish (groper, bass and bluenose) are usually hanging out in 150 to 250 metres of water (and sometimes down to 300+ meters). There are a few different recognised fish patches in the trench. These are very localised and to get into numbers of fish you just about have to hit the nail on the head. The patches are about the size of half a rugby field. Different areas fish well when the current forces the food and plankton up against the side of the canyon. If the current pushes all the food away from the spot, results aren't as good. Therefore you need to be drifting up into shallower water. 

FISHERMANS ROCK: Located 8 miles off the back of mana this is one of the better puka spots on the west coast of wgtn. There are plenty of spots there in 160 – 240mtrs to catch good number and large puka. The run from March – july is very good and some real monsters over 100lb come out most years prior to their annual spawn. 

THE WEST COAST: It’s pretty much just hapuku out west with the odd bass, ling, frostfish and gemfish thrown in for good luck. Here are the common spots which produce good fishing from time to time - out wide of Hunters (130-150mtr),The Mana bank (100 - 180mtr) Ohau point (189mtr), Makara (100 - 180mtr), The ‘patch’ south of Mana (200mtr), The 78mtre rise (190mtr), spot X and the 3 sisters 200 - 220mtr) - north of Fisherman’s, south of Fisherman’s (250mtrs). 

KARORI: There are some excellent puka grounds from Sinclair Head heading west to the Cook Strait cable zone in 100mtrs down to 250mtrs. The sea conditions can get very nasty particularly with wind against tide so fishing this area can be dangerous, BE CAREFUL!

TURAKERI and the back of 5 MILE REEF:  Along the 100 meter mark in these areas there are some good puka spots but also produce big tarakihi, bluecod, kingfish and the odd trumpeter.

PALLSER BAY: There are a few nice spots along the edge of the Palliser canyon and around The Cape. sometimes the weather will be really nice here when it’s bad in wellington and sometimes the opposite. Windy point is a well known hotspot for puka on the 200mtr mark   

THE EAST COAST: The groper can be abundant in quite shallow water during the summer months.They will often be mixed in with trumpeter, tarakihi and blue cod. This area has the deepest water close to shore, oceanic currents with gamefishing potential and is the best place for fishing but arguably has the worst weather. There some awesome deepwater fishing possies all the way along the Wairarapa coastline particularly from Cape Palliser through to Urity. Some of the commercially fished spots are in depths 300 to 500 metres. With the weather being a good conservation measure on this coast the fish are often bigger. 



A superb eating fish classified under the same commercial fish quota as groper. They generally grow larger than groper and are often found in deeper water. We never seem to catch them in depths of water under 200 metres with 250 to 325 mtrs a good depth. Every year there is usually a fish caught over 50kgs in Wellington. A good one is generally 20kg plus. Further north they are caught up to 100kgs. Bass can be distinguished from groper by their deeper stomach, shorter lower jaw and a larger eye. The best months seem to change from year to year but late summer through the winter and early summer can certainly be good. They are slow growing fish taking 5-10years to reach maturity and a large adult being 50yrs plus (50kg) In Wellington a few bass get caught at fishermans rock and behind the 78mtr rise but most get caught at Nicholsons Trench or in the Wairarapa (East coast). Places in the outer Bay of Plenty, the Ranfurly bank, the 3 Kings and the Far North all produce bug fish at various times of the year. The further you get away from civilization the better the fishing (which is true with many species) 

HAPUKU (groper)

A solid fish but more slender than the bass. They are happy to live in shallower water but are often swim with bass. At certain times of the year the big ones will be as shallow as 75 metres but generally live from 125 metres down to 250 metres. An average fish is around 10 to 15kgs, a biggie is 30kg plus but again the odd 50kg plus fish gets taken in Cook Strait. In Wgtn they normally arrive in October and disappear around July/August preferring deeper colder water to spawn. Further north they are known to spawn in late summer and the main season can be a bit shorter. This changes in locations all around the country. Some fish are residents, other travel great distances and are believed to come back to the same spots year after year. The species is known to be in decline and is easily overfished. We have noticed spots fished out coming back on with smaller fish 5 – 10 years later. The grow approx 1kg per year in the wild and have grown up to 1kg a month in captivity. Some of the wild fish could grow twice to 5 times as quick depending on food source. They are aggressive feeders eating small fish, squid, redcod and BRC, sea perch, rat tails, lanternfish, tarakihi (from what we have noticed). A mature fish is normally around 8-12kg. Bass, bluenose and puka don't mind temps down to 9 or 10 degrees. 


From what I've observed the bluenose is the more aggressive fighting fish of the `big three'. You can catch them in the same area as bass and hapuku but sometimes shallower ground of around 110 to 200 metres can produce good numbers of fish. Sometimes big schools of fish congregate in 250 – 350 meters in the Bay of Plenty and Far North. They can feed well up off the bottom as well. Average size at Nicholsons Trench is about 5 to 7kg but a good one can be 10 to 20kgs. The best I have heard of is 33kgs by Steve Brown from the Wgtn area. Fish get caught up to 40kg in the Bay of Plenty. Unlike groper and bass, they are available all year round and seem to be on the move and spread out in an area rather than resident in one particular spot. November to late January can be the best time in Wellington but things are constantly changing as we discover new spots. They grow about 1-2kg per year with a mature fish being 4-6kg. The appear to spawn late summer-ish but this is yet to be proven. They certainly like the edge of a big canyon or trench with a big 200 – 600mtrs plus dropoff. Presumably this is for food supply. They like eating deepwater fish like lanternfish and squid. 

LING - If you are catching ling you are probably in too deeper water to catch groper but may hook the odd big bass. The ling is a much maligned fish because they don't fight terribly well, and they don't taste quite as good as hapuku, however they are still good eating and deserve more recognition than some of the more experienced anglers give them. Keep them on ice before filleting. They are a great stir- fry fish with soy sauce, fried in butter! The average size varies at different times of the year. For a big ling say 20 or 30kg plus, I would be fishing in 300 to 400 metres water depth. 

HOKI and GEMFISH - These fish are often up off the bottom and at certain times of the year are in huge numbers at the Trench. They are good eating if you look after the fish (keep them on ice). They are also very good bait. 

SHARKS - There is a very healthy shark fishery in the deep water. We have had many encounters with blues and makos. A few with porbeagles and threshers and many with tope, particularly when you are fishing in less than 150 metres. They provide great entertainment for sportfishing enthusiasts and the smaller ones are able to be processed for food without too much danger of losing limbs as long as you ‘put them to sleep fairly quickly! 

OTHER SPECIES - Some of the more interesting species we have caught at the Trench are frostfish, rat-tail, orange perch, seal shark and ghost shark. XOS tarakihi and blue cod (2 to 3kg) are often on the top of a reef say in are around 100 to 150 metre depth. It is worthwhile sending down some smaller hooks to experiment with other species from time to time. Rays bream – see end of article 

TUNA - Plenty of albacore have been caught off Turakerei and in the trench but only during the peak of summer. If more people targeted tuna with lures and cut baits on strayline then we would see more action. With Long (knife) jigs now being used there is a chance of more tuna being landed where we thought there were none. 


Fresh is best, good quality squid and pilchards catch everything

BASS: strips of hoki or mackerel. Pilchards always work well too. 

GROPER: everything works well - squid, pilchards, strips of barracouta, kahawai or mackerel. Whole or fillets of sea perch is a goodie. Groper often have whole perch, rat-tails, mackerel and squid inside their stomachs. 

BLUENOSE: squid is certainly tops, pilchards too. 

GENERAL BAITING UP TIPS: Cut baits into torpedo shapes and hook once through one end . This stops them from twisting and spinning their way to the bottom. For the extra chance of a hookup add a pilchard or two by hooking them through the eye socket hook. Sometimes small baits work well, other times big baits catch big fish 

FLUORESCENT TUBE, BEADS AND STICKS Putting fluoro tube and beads on your rigs seems to increase your catch rate but it is certainly not imperative to catch fish. It is widely believed that using cyloom sticks attached to the top of your swivel or sinker work well for deepwater species. For puka the blue sticks have been working well. Some fishers reckon the green sticks left going for 8 hours or so work better than bright ones. Fresh squid, octopus and hoki are three baits which have natural fluoro. It would be interesting experimenting with the bait additive glow-bait to see how it works in the deep water. 

JIGS: The new lumo inchiku jigs like diamond eye and squidwings  400 - 750gm have been a proven performer, especially in depths up to 150mtrs. Longjigs particularly the orange/brown colour has been good on bass and puka. 300, 400, 500gm all good depending on the tide running. Putting a strip of squid on the hook seems to increase our chance of catching fish. Just put the jig down to the bottom and wind slowly upwards about 50mtrs then put it down again and repeat. Doing and erratic jig motion can also be good.

SOFTBAITS: using the large scented or lumo softbaits have been a good either on an extra large jig head or on a standard puka dropper. 


Boat handling: In deep water (200 mtr plus) don’t bother anchoring. If possible, get the skipper to back into the wind slowly. This will keep you on the spot for longer and keep your lines from streaming out the back of the boat. Doing this also reduces the weight sinker you need. PLEASE NOTE: This practise is dangerous in small boats so be careful. 

When you hook a fish put a mark on the GPS so you can get back onto the  ╠âfishpatch'. Look for fish sign on the sounder. If the sign is up off the bottom it is likely to be bluenose, hoki or possibly baitfish. 

Avoiding tangles: If you have more than a couple of people fishing, get everyone to drop their lines at the same time. 

Make sure everyone has similar weight sinkers on. Just fish one side of the boat and along the stern.  If you see your line going towards someone else’s cross over or under until it looks right - this is important when you are winding up with or without a fish on. 

Hooking up fish: When someone hooks up there should be more fish around. Click your reel into freespool for a while. Often this will result in a hookup. Be in touch with the bottom - keep letting a bit more line out. If you hook a small fish like a sea perch leave it down there rather than winding up, you have other hooks on your rig and the perch sometimes get eaten by bigger fish.

Hooking the bottom: If you get snagged, back the drag off then click the reel into freespool for a while. Again this will often result in a hookup. DO NOT use the rod and reel drag to free a snag as it may break them. Point the rod at the snag and apply medium to heavy drag and put your hand (with a glove or rag) onto the spool and lock down.  Watch out you don’t cut your finger on the line coming off the spool. 


Reels - I can recommend the following reels for deepwater fishing Daiwa 600H, Penn Senator 900 and fatham 45 lever drag, Tica 20 or 30 lever drag, Shimano tld30 and 50, Okuma solitera lever drag.

Many anglers are going with a big electric like the Daiwa tanacom 1000 or Shimano forcemaster 9000 which ‘takes the hard work’ out of deepwater fishing. They can be used as power assists (like an electric bike) or you can fish the rod holder and maneuver the boat or assist other anglers while still fishing your electric. They are good for exploring deeper trenches and are excellent at pulling up scarpies and sinkers from the deep which no hassle .  

Rods - When using braid on rods try keeping away from metal guides and rollers (they get grooved out and frey/cut off your braid). 5ft6 tods like Shimano backbone or status, Daiwa saltist or procyon, Kilwell and Uglystick 24/37kg rods are all good rods. Many anglers are using bent butt rods now as you can ‘fish the rod holder’ and keep the line away from the boat or prop.

Line - Generally 500mtrs of 80lb braid is recommended for deepwater fishing. If you have an accident with the propeller or a shark then you can lose your braid and have enough left on the reel to keep fishing. Enthusiasts spool up with 750 – 1000mtrs of 80lb. Cortland blackspot is good middle of the road braid 

Gimbal and harness - ‘Strapping yourself in’ with a gimbal and harness is recommended as it makes it much easier to wind up fish or sinkers without hurting your back or shoulders  

RIGS - The standard deep water rig is a beefy ledger rig. 30 ounce sinker (occasionally 40oz) on the bottom attached with a snap swivel or slightly lighter nylon than used for your mainline. This is so if you get snagged you only lose your sinker. The trace line is usually 300 to 400lb with droppers coming off crimped swivel sleeves or dropper loops (or snoods). The droppers are normally 150 to 200lb. My preferred hooks are 15/O tuna circles or 12 – 14/O ezibaiters. When the fishing is tough try 10 – 12/o hooks with 130lb trace. This will often result is better fishing. 

Tie your sinker on with some 60 - 80lb nylon so it will snap off when you get snagged on the bottom, but not too easily (sinkers are expensive!)  


Zapping someone else’s spot on your GPS is not good fishing etiquette. No one likes it having it done to them when they are on their good spot so think about next time you are out there. Don’t take a handheld GPS on another boat without permission. I am happy to give some marks to our clients but don’t take kindly to people trying to 'steal' our hard earned spots. 

Try not to start your drift too close to another boat. Wait for the boat to drift a bit then go a few 100 metres up current from them, then you should not have any chance of tangling you lines with them. If someone is anchored up keep a reasonable distance away from them. If you try and anchor too close and your pick does not hold you can foul up their rope and lines. 

Shooting drop lines (long lines) on a recognised fish patch will stop everyone else fishing. It is normally first in first served when arriving at a fishing possie. When a spot has long line buoys on it you can bet it is going to be very tricky to pull a fish out without getting caught on the drop line. If that happens, you lose your gear. 


Watch out for rips after turn of tide, weather changes and be prepared for engine failure with the usual safety equipment - EPIRB, VHF radio (channel 14 or 16), flares, lifejackets (wear them while in tranzit), cellphone (in a waterproof bag). Having 2 x 220 metre coils of 4mm rope (to get to the bottom and anchor you up) and a sea anchor (to keep the bow into the wind) means you won't drift into never never land while waiting for assistance if your engine fails. VHF radio – a real must for offshore boating. Have your VHF radio left on scan to pick up any wind warnings or weather reports from ships. 

In Wellington, Beacon Hill (harbour radio) are on channel 14 and 62. Wellington maritime radio are on channel 16 (the emergency frequency). If you are in trouble which is life threatening, issue a mayday on ch 16, if you are in trouble but not life threatening issue a pan pan on ch16. Do a trip report with people on board, where leave from, when return and where you're going 


Up to 10 or 15 knots from the north or south is reasonable particularly if there is no ground swell. 20 -25 knots is fishable but in a staunch trailer boat or launch. 30 knots plus is bigger boat than a launch. Use the coastal forecast (cook, stephens, castlepoint, plenty) not the recreational marine (mana, kapiti or wgtn) for deepwater fishing. Always allow for another 10 knots on top of forecast. Keep a lookout for wind or fronts coming across the water. They are easy to see.

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