Surfcasting At Ninety Mile Beach

Keen surfcaster Jason Neute’s first experience fishing ‘the Ninety’’ was such an epic adventure that he couldn’t wait to get back…

The magic of the west coast has run through my blood since I was a young lad – the sand, ruggedness, big ocean, and raw natural beauty of this coast draws me to it. Whether I have an awesome or quiet fishing session, I always count it as a magical day. Like two boys on Christmas morning, fishing buddy Stevo and I could hardly contain our excitement – we were itching to get there.

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The car was loaded with the kontiki, surfcasters and other gear, and we were optimistic for similar results. On the way, we talked about how stoked we were to have an entire day this time and went over our plans to fish the mighty Ninety Mile Beach. We planned to do our usual trick – I would help Stevo set the ‘tiki and then hit the surfcasting. I was chomping at the bit to flick a few baits with my surfcaster from the shore – surfcasting has always been a great passion of mine. It was like déjà vu as we headed down the Te Paki stream. 

Just like last time – massive dunes on the right dwarfed us; it felt like being on another planet. The west coast is such a beautiful place, and no matter where you are, it always feels like you’re the only person to have stepped foot there. We made our way down the stream, reaching the ocean where there was nobody in sight – total solitude with the whole coastline to ourselves and that familiar fishy feeling overwhelming me. Places like this are precisely what fishermen dream of. Again, I had to kick myself for not having experienced the ‘90’ on my previous Far North trips.

Setting up the kontiki.

Setting up the kontiki.

Starting in a similar area where we successfully fished last time, we decided to do a kontiki set and a bit of surfcasting and then move on. With time on our side, we were keen to travel and fish the coastline more than we had previously. I left Stevo to sort out the ‘tiki as I could no longer ignore the itch! I set up my gear and flicked out my first bait, hoping to catch some fresh kahawai to bait the ‘tiki hooks as we always like to do, supplemented with some mullet. 

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With the baits sent out and soaking, I concentrated on my surf rod, hoping for my first bite. This spot held a little hole and trough on the inner bank, and I knew as the tide dropped, the hole and trough would become more accessible – that’s when the fishing would kick in. I was still new to the ‘90’, so I fell back on the knowledge and experience I had gained from fishing at Muriwai Beach. Man, I love this stuff, wading through the white water and battling the surge for deeper waters – it just makes a hungry west coast fisho feel fully satisfied! Getting your bait into the holes or narrow channels makes all the difference when fishing the west coast, as this is where the fish hold.

I was on a high with the location, salty air and sound of the ocean’s crashing waves. My next bait just reached the little channel, but it was all I needed. Standing at the ready, my line went tight– it wasn’t a bad little snap at around 60-65cm. After a couple more baits, Stevo was keen to crank the winch on the ‘tiki – it was hard leaving my surfcasting to help, but that’s just how it is. As the hooks began to show, I took over the winch, and Stevo waited for the fish to come in. Snapper started showing in the whitewash and lined up as they were dragged onto the sand. The first was around 35cm, but the second was a nice one, about 60cm, then another around 70cm.

The 'tiki delivers the goods.

The 'tiki delivers the goods.

It was great being here for the entire day and in no rush, so we packed up to try another spot. We hoped this would provide fresh kahawai for the next kontiki set. Just 400 metres up the coast, I spied a nice little hole; it would be perfect for our next flick.

Stevo crossed his fingers for a kahawai as I whipped out a nice fat piece of skipjack, although I was secretly hoping for another snapper. Usually, I use pilchards but decided to try a bit of tuna. You can hide the hooks a little better in skipjack, and snapper love these oily baits. I hooked up again, but it wasn’t as biggie this time. It’s great fishing on the west coast, where you can play that guessing game as there are many possibilities. Big trevally, snapper, kahawai, gurnard and even kingfish are all real possibilities. This fish turned out to be another snapper – a nice bin fish around 40cm. As the tide dropped, it got quieter, so we decided to do another shift. We drove along the beach, taking our time while scouting new spots. My Muriwai instinct kicked in, and I saw the perfect surfcasting spot – the water was receding, and a bank showed itself, so we pulled over for our next session.

These spots will get you right on the lip of the inner bank, allowing you to cast smack dab right in the middle of a nice deep channel. Stevo and I got the gear out – once again, I snuck off to flick another nice chunk of skipjack out. It must have only been a couple of minutes before my rod loaded up, and I was onto a solid Ninety Mile Beach snapper. This fish was pulling string and had my heart racing – it was a solid red for sure!

The beautiful and desolate landscape of the '90'.

The beautiful and desolate landscape of the '90'.

The waves, the pull of the current, and the strain you feel on your line as the water draws out magnify the epic battle you experience with big fish off the beach. While battling to land the fish, I had to be vigilant when the fish caught a wave – if I was not extra careful at this point, my line would slacken and give it a chance to shake my hook free. As the surge came in, the beast slid into the shallows, a stonker of a snapper and my Ninety Mile Beach personal best.

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Our last soak on the ‘tiki gave us another six good fish. We decided to call it a day as we’d had an awesome experience resulting in plenty of great fish in the bin. This Ninety Mile Beach experience was one I will remember for many years to come, only strengthening my strong spiritual relationship with the west coast.


December 2022 - Jason Neute
New Zealand Fishing News Magazine.
Copyright: NZ Fishing Media Ltd.
Re-publishing elsewhere is prohibited

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