Northland Fishing Report - 07/03/24

Outstanding inshore fishing

It’s official, summer is over, and what a great summer it has been. But don’t let the fact that autumn has officially started get you down; if anything, it means that the fish only get bigger and hungrier!

Over the last full week of February, the annual New Zealand Sportfishing Nationals was held, with teams of New Zealand’s top fishermen competing across the country, battling for top honours across multiple categories. The highly contested “striped marlin section” saw the main fleet of competing boats converging on an area between Doubtless Bay and Henderson Bay, with many of the fish being found in depth between 130 metres and 160 metres. I even managed to spot a marlin in 40 metres of water off Puheke Beach on my way out to go chase some snapper for dinner!

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Plenty of stripey action at the Sportfishing Nationals (Campbell Carter tagged this at 130 metres).

Team Phileigh, skippered by Kane Bodman and representing the Counties Sportfishing Club, ended up taking the top spot with a total of 10 striped marlin caught over the week. Very impressive work, considering Phileigh is a 7-metre trailer boat which was competing shoulder to shoulder with some of New Zealand’s most well-equipped, top sport fishing launches. Top work, team Phileigh - definitely an achievement to be proud of!

The broadbill division was another category which was won by a trailer boat. Team Swordfish Mojo, skippered by Matt Watson and representing the Bay Of Islands Swordfish Club, managed to catch and release an impressive eight broadbill over the week. Swordfish Mojo fished a multitude of areas. Once again, outstanding work and a huge congratulations to Matt and the team.

Special mention must also be made to team Escapade representing the Whangarei Deep Sea Anglers Club. Team Escapade placed third overall in the Top Teams section, but what is truly impressive is that they managed to catch themselves a billfish slam. A billfish slam consists of catching three species of billfish in one day. Team Escapade managed this by catching a striped marlin, blue marlin and broadbill swordfish all in the space of 24 hours. Very impressive and a feat that is not often seen here in New Zealand.

Inshore, the fishing has also been outstanding. Fishing off Puheke Beach in depths between 30 and 40 metres, we found endless amounts of trevally and snapper. I found 7” pink Zman softbaits to be the flavour of choice. Plenty of fish between 50cm and 70cm were caught. The fish were moving fast and I found long drifts through the birds to be the most effective at staying on the schools.

Calum Thompson hooked this beauty on the Reel Mana in Rangaunu Harbour.

Further up the Rangaunu Harbour, the fish have also been going crazy. Calum Thompson, a mad keen fisho visiting from the UK, was shown what Northland has to offer by being put on this monster trevally by skipper and good friend Jerym Dodd on the good ship Reel Mana. The pair was fishing in five metres of water when the trevally took a liking to Calum’s 7” motor oil softbait and had his softbait setup screaming. It’s safe to say Calum will be itching to get back to New Zealand after that experience.

That’s all for now. Hopefully next time I check in with you we have some reports of some incredible autumn fishing. If it’s anything like our summer was, I’m sure I will. Take care everyone and tight lines.

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- Jordan Hensen

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