Fishing for Blue moki

During January Roy Crother, Barry Hawthorne and I went on a moki mission to our favourite spot on Wellington’s south coast.

We arrived at around 4pm with a 20-knot nor’wester blowing on a very warm day. There was hardly any swell and things sure looked good for an all-night moki fish.

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MokiUsing fresh-frozen cray and large green-lipped mussels on 4/0 long-shanked hooks bound on with plenty of cotton, we caught moki from 1kg to 4kg, and then – just as the sun was going down – Ray got this terrific bender which really gave him a good workout for about 10 minutes. It must have taken line from him at least seven times and in the end we thought it might be a small eagle ray. But as the fish started to tire and we saw it in the surf. Three whoops of delight could be heard. Picking up his fish for the photos, a very pleased Ray posed with a 7.15kg blue moki.

Barry and I stayed on the beach all night without any more fish – until the sun came up when Barry lost a good moki. They seemed to have disappeared after that.

moki headTwo weeks later I went out with Barry (blind eel) just for a moki fish and bagged 15, plus seven tarakihi. Then I went again the next night and caught just one! That's moki fishing for you – they can go mad one night and then go completely off the next.

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Where and when:

A beach with reefs and the odd kelp bed fished two or three hours before sundown and onwards definitely increases your chances of catching moki.


Strong line in the 12 to 15kg class is a definite advantage as you try to steer a 5 or 6kg moki between the snags.


I favour 4/0 to 6/0 medium Gamakatsu Octopus because they present a wicked mussel bait well, but any long-shank hook will do the trick.


Large green-lipped mussels from your local supermarket, which should be put in the freezer the night before you go fishing. When you throw them out on the beach you’ll find they are much easier to shell. Fresh-frozen cray is good – if you can avoid eating it. Well, I find it very hard.


Two or three Southern Bait paua-kina sausages take some beating. Cut up and throw the pieces in at about 10-minute intervals. It’s a deadly brew all right and fish have been known to jump on the beach to get at the stuff!

Berley sinkers:

Depthcharge sinkers definitely increase your catch rate, but the trick here is to mix some of your berley with breadcrumbs as a binding agent. Also, you know your berley is going to be near your hook.


If you are using an ordinary sinker try a No 4 or No 6 Kaumoana pyramid. They hold the bottom well in rough seas, especially the No 6, which is also good when a strong wind is blowing. Another advantage of using a large pyramid is the fact that, when a fish swims into shore with the bait, the weight of the sinker usually hooks him for you. A bit like the bolt rig used in coarse fishing.

Baiting up:

Pass your hook through the tough end of the mussel, then through the gut bag. Pull the mussel up a good half-inch over the eye of the hook, then start binding cotton here (this stops it slipping down the hook) then bind all the way down the mussel. You should have a nice, neat bait.
But wait there’s more! Stick another mussel on the back of the hook and bind this on, then finish it off with two half-hitches over the hook point. Crayfish is bound on the same way.


mokiHere in Wellington the ledger rig rules for moki. A dropper rig about 8 inches long with your hook roughly 4 inches off the sinker seems to be the way to go. I’m sure a running rig would work just as well – I must give it a try sometime.

Finding the fish:

Moki tend to feed in the drop-off, which may be only 6m from the water’s edge at the change of light. But they can also be caught further out, so we cast a bait close to shore and another further out, about twice the distance. The blue moki in some cases can be quite territorial and a couple of metres either side of where you are catching them you may draw a blank.

Hooking fish:

Always keep the line tight and a good set on your rod tip. You’ll need white reflective tape on the top third of your rod, plus a good Tilly lantern. Don’t ignore little picker bites as it may be a big moki trying out your bait. And always watch your rods for the big moki bender – and believe me they really bend a rod over.

Playing moki:

When playing a moki let them take some line but not too much, as they will head straight for the snags – let your drag slow them down. To turn a big moki, holding your rod from an upright position to the side will in most cases do the trick. Always let the surf wash your fish into you when it gets closer to the beach.

You are permitted to give a loud “YAHOO!” if you hook and land one of over 5kg.


A Blast From The Past!


August 1997 - by Steve Sneddon
This article was originally suppled by
NZ Fisherman Magazine

and reviewed for
2013 by John Eichelsheim
      Re-publishing elsewhere is prohibited         



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