Thomcat Charters Review

Grant Blair and the NZ Fishing News team joined Jim Stinton on Thomcat for a day’s fishing on the Hauraki Gulf.

Winter fishing can be a bit patchy. Bite times are often short and the fish are generally more lethargic because they instinctively expend minimal energy as they strive to conserve the condition put on over the warmer months. Another challenge with winter fishing is aligning the critical component, reasonable weather, with boat availability. When Jim Stinton from Thomcat Charters asked if the NZ Fishing News team would like to join him and his skipper Murray for a day on the Hauraki Gulf we were more than keen to catch up and experience the operation first hand.

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Josh Rudd, Dean Andrew, Shirner Dyson and Nick Meister took advantage of a fine Saturday to fish the Gulf aboard Thomcat.Josh Rudd, Dean Andrew, Shirner Dyson and Nick Meister took advantage of a fine Saturday to fish the Gulf aboard Thomcat.

It was late June and the weather for a day on the water was perfect: overcast, and almost flat calm. The Fishing News team of Dean Andrew, Josh Rudd and I were joined by Mark Milburn and Shirner Dyson from Lusty & Blundell and Nick Meister from Club Marine. Fishing was destined to be challenging, especially with minimal tide run and the Bite Times on suggesting that we’d be better off doing the lawns! And it proved to be just that – challenging! We moved around among several of Jim’s spots north of Tiri that had been fishing reasonably well over the previous two to three weeks and while we managed to bag enough to feed our respective families, it was certainly quite slow. Shirner topped the leaderboard for the day with a nice 45 cm snapper, and Dean bagged a very respectable trevally on a small micro jig, which also proved to be deadly on the snapper.

Dean Andrew bagged this respectable trevally, caught on a microjig.Dean Andrew bagged this respectable trevally, caught on a microjig.

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The Operation

Jim’s father ran a small charter business in the UK and in his formative years it was instilled in him that fishing was just a normal part of life. He moved to New Zealand 27 years ago and is a strong advocate for our fishery. Even after travelling extensively and fishing in numerous locations including the Caribbean, Africa and Europe, the Hauraki Gulf still stands tall as his favourite.

“It’s such a beautiful place, and there’s nothing else like it,” says Jim. “There’s not only the great fishing for snapper and kingfish in particular but on a good day you’ll likely see gannets, dolphins and maybe even whales feeding. It’s such a vibrant place, and it’s right on our doorstep.”

As mentioned, Jim is a strong advocate for a sustainable fishery and while he’s keen to see his customers catch some prime eating fish, and it’s always absolutely the angler’s choice, he’s equally keen to release some of the big fish when they are in good condition. His favourite personal target species is kingfish and he’s experienced at catching them on jigs, live baits and dead baits. Jim says his aim on every trip is to see his customers have a fantastic day fishing, enjoying some fun with friends and family on our beautiful Hauraki Gulf. Anchoring and berleying for snapper is the general modus operandi but drifting and fishing with soft-baits and other lures is also an option, if that’s what the customer prefers.

Shirner Dyson with a very table-worthy Gulf snapper.Shirner Dyson with a very table-worthy Gulf snapper.

The Boat

Thomcat is a 42-foot Allan Wright catamaran powered by twin 300HP Yanmar diesels which cruises comfortably between 12 and 14 knots. She underwent a full refit about three years ago and is surveyed for 21 passengers. On the fishing side Thomcat can happily accommodate 8 to 10 anglers between the cockpit and a very spacious foredeck when drifting with lures. In terms of the all-important sustenance while you’re on the water, catering can be provided or you can bring your own food and drinks if you’d prefer – there’s a barbeque on board for a slightly more upmarket lunch than the typical sandwich and apple combo. The interior is spacious, well-appointed and complete with a full galley including refrigeration and a freezer. Jim carries a comprehensive range of fishing tackle and equipment, from Penn combos for bait fishing right through to some top-end gear like a Shimano Torium on a custom-built rod. Customers can get on board and go fishing for the day with minimal fuss and preparation and while you are welcome to bring your own tackle, it’s not essential to enjoying a day out on Thomcat.

There is plenty of room in the saloon if you want to take a rest or shelter from the elements.There is plenty of room in the saloon if you want to take a rest or shelter from the elements.

Jim will customise your day to meet your needs. “Whatever the customer wants is what we set out to deliver,” says Jim. Thomcat can be chartered for a half day, full day, weekend, or special trips to suit. Charter rates are $1500 for a half day, and $2300 for a full day. More info can be found on the website –

Key Information:

Length + Beam

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Yanmar 300hp X 2


15 knots, max 20 knots







Other accessories




2 doubles



1 internal, 1 external

DVD, TV and stereo

Gulf Harbour Marina 

   This article is reproduced with permission of   
New Zealand Fishing News

August 2019 - Grant Blair
Re-publishing elsewhere is prohibited

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