Monday, April 2, 2012

A Seafood Paradise - by Fishmax contributor Jeff Page

We were lucky enough to spend 6 days at a small fishing village on the Kaipara Harbour which is a 2 hour drive from Auckland on the west coast of New Zealand. I can't name the village as I will be hunted down by the locals and meet an untimely demise. Kaipara Harbour has a shoreline of 800 klms which makes it a very large harbour. The snapper spawn there and then move out to sea when they are adult size. Legal size is 27 cm but our Kiwi friends only take snapper measuring 30 cm or longer as they are so plentiful (bag limit is 10 per person).

During our 6 day stint we managed to fish 4 days which was great as the weather really changes rapidly. Snapper were on the bite as soon as your line hit bottom and we were really kept busy as many were under the 30cm mark and were returned, the locals fish with 3 hooks in a paternoster style and use heavy weights (the currents are quite strong). Squid is the main bait but soft plastics work as well. You have to use a heavy jig head with the plastics (which the writer found out by landing 2 keepers from 2 casts) as you have to work hard to get the bait to the bottom.

Took a nice feed home each day but on top of this our host asked would we like to dredge for scallops. Well with only a nano second of deliberation, we said "yes". Little did we know that we didn't have to go far, our boat was within sight of our host's holiday home and after about 15 minutes of trolling we had a lovely lot of scallops. It was late in the season so they weren't as plentiful or as big as peak season time. To follow this we were then treated to going mussel and oyster gathering around the point at low tide which was very rewarding with a bag limit of 50 mussels per person and plenty of oysters (200 per person per day).

There is a lot of work shucking all this delicious seafood but when beer o'clock comes around it is all worth it. Back to the fishing, first day was a good opener with a nice feed, a couple of burn offs from sharks or rays which got the juices flowing! Second day was a better day for bigger fish with my best being a 42cm snapper and our host landing a 48cm snapper and losing a yellow tail black kingfish which managed to cut itself off around the motor leg on a surprise last run, that was the hard luck story of the trip. The other 2 days of fishing were a lot of fun with us probably throwing back 6 fish for every one kept.
Kahawai provided some action as well, they are a lot like a tailor but without the sharp teeth and are a surface feeder, great eating (we had some smoked with tea tree chips and they were delicious).

After gorging ourselves on this beautiful bounty out of the sea in NZ we had to say goodbye and head back to Oz where I am still researching where we can catch our own snapper, scallops, mussels and oysters in the one location (don't think I will have any luck in this neck of the woods).

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