Fishing: east side

David Williams

Resident 'Bear Grylls' for Getfrank.

The classically beautiful and easily accessible East Coast is a frequent playground to thousands of New Zealand recreational fisherman. There are vast differences from the West Coast, most of which contribute to it being the more favoured option. The countless islands and reefs display breathtaking scenery which attracts an array of wildlife to explore and potentially provide dinner. Unlike the West Coast where the depth of the water dictates where to fish, East Coast fishing relies on banks, channels, reefs, drop offs and local knowledge to select a spot. One of the major downfalls of the East Coast is the inconsistency. It may only take popping just around the corner to fill your bin, or you could find yourself spot hopping all day and only having a rock cod to show for it.

Rhonda pat & michael fishing

But this is fishing and that's part of what makes it so exciting - as you never really know what you will come back with. There are definitely factors to consider that will result in more chance of what my close friend Borat says ‘a great success.’ These factors include tide, weather, time of day, bait, equipment, and spot selection. Tide can be crucial because generally on the change of tides (slack tide) the fishing switches off so if you do not have much time it is best to avoid this period. Also launching and bringing in the boat can be difficult and frustrating in many areas at low tide. Weather should always be considered as swell and wind can make the experience both miserable and possible unsafe. Strong winds and currents can make it harder to set your lines in the right spot, so finding shelter behind an island or peninsula is often a good idea. The moon can alter the feeding patterns of fish so for a rough guide you can go to an online fishing calendar to check the (supposedly) good and bad days to fish.

The time of day should also be considered when planning a trip, as a change of light traditionally sparks a feeding time for the fish. I recommend dawn because then you do not have to come home in the dark and you still have daylight to clean the boat ,fish, etc and reminisce over a few cold ones on the deck. It is very important to have good fresh bait and a bit of a variety as sometimes fish can be more particular over a certain type. It never really goes amiss having a bag of Pillies (Pilchards), Squidillydid (Squid), and Bonito to cover all the bases. Pilchard can be a hassle to stay on so threading the hook through the eye and the back bone and a half hitch on the tail can help it stay on better. Burley bags are also a great way to increase your chances. (While we're talking about bait, if you see your mate's builder's crack it is ridiculously funny to fill it with left over bait, but be prepared for consequences).

Having good gear is always a bonus but it is not essential. Good gear will last much better and be less frustrating so if you are going out regularly (once a month) invest in some good gear. I recommend Shimmano for all around good performance and for the bigger fish Okuma sorts it out for a reasonable price. Stirling Sports also have a great range of gear and deals. Spot selection is probably the most important part of East Coast fishing. The best way to go about sorting this out is to ask around for some good spots and you may get put onto a few - but if you are new to the area it is a good idea to see where other people are fishing and use your depth sounder to find a nice drop off away from the other boats. The other tactic to spot selection is known simply as trial and error.  Of course how far you go out has some impact on the size of fish caught as game fish like Marlin and Hapuka like the deeper blue water, and your pan size snappers can be caught surfcasting off the beach or in the bay in a dinghy called Sasquatch.

Before fishing on the East Coast you must check the forecast online and Channel 21 on VHF radio. Channel 61 is for chat and general fishing jargon in the North Island. Even though the East Coast is not quite so dangerous when launching and returning as the west, it is still essential to have all the necessary safety equipment like flares, first aid, radio and appropriate clothing (no gumboots etc). Fibreglass boats are often the popular choice on the east coast as they are generally smoother riding but are not as sea worthy in rougher seas.

The best thing with East Coast fishing is to just get out there and do it! And remember these key points: 1) It is important to be safe but feel free to have a great time and fool around a bit. 2) Know the size limits of fish and shellfish; don’t bring back any snapper under 300mm or you are a dick. 3) Check the forecast. 4) Check your gear. 5) Charge out before change of light. 6) Sink a brown or two. 7) Throw over some lines. 8) Repeat step 6.

I shall leave you with this quote “fishing is fun, so go sink browns in the sun”

Happy east coasting

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  • says
    Good article, however, the legal minimum size limit for snapper is 270 mm. Measured from nose to 'V' of tail. Not 300 mm as stated.

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