Guide to NZ fish

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    Posted: 02 Jul 2022 at 10:22am
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I'm getting started on sea fishing (from a boat), and not being from NZ am not familiar with the fish here and what's good to catch. Does anyone know of a book or something which talks about the fish I might catch, so I can recognise them and know what's worth keeping and what's not? Cheers.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (1) Likes(1)   Quote MB Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Jul 2022 at 11:09am
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Good on you for asking the question, I'm continually amazed at the level of ignorance displayed by anglers when it comes to identifying the fish that swim in our seas. Many species have inappropriately inherited northern hemisphere names which muddies the waters as they are not close relations, or even in the same family. Few species that you are likely to catch are bad to eat, but a lot comes down to treatment of the fish from point of capture and cooking technique. 

The MPI "NZ Fishing Rules" app is a good, basic starting point. 

Quick reference:

Comprehensive:



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Post Options Post Options   Likes (1) Likes(1)   Quote The Tamure Kid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Jul 2022 at 12:04pm
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Another good printed option is:

Hook, Line & Sinker by Daryl Crimp. 

the sub-title 'What they look like, where to find them, and how to catch them' says it all.
It was first published 20 years ago, but the info re the fish species and basic fishing methods for each is still quite applicable for a newbie.

If you live in the upper North Island and bait or lure fish in the in-shore waters you'll typically encounter the classic common catches of snapper, kahawai, jack mackerel, trevally, kingfish, gurnard and various sharks/rays. John dory are another occasional catch. That's dependent on time of year, fishing zone and type of fishing, obviously. 

The good thing about that book i mentioned is that if you live in another part of the country, it includes the common species there.

There is also a lot of good info on this forum in the advice section.

NZers tend to turn their noses up at so-called lesser table fish, often just based on what they've been told, which is a bit sad as we miss out on some delicious eating. But as MB said, correctly treating and cooking fish is the key. e.g. kahawai is stunning eating in my view (raw fish dishes, Thai curries, fish cakes), but biffed back by many.

Last thing - I'd encourage you to familiarise yourself with the regulations about minimum sizes and bag limits.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote davidc Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Jul 2022 at 2:36pm
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Thank you very much! A printed book would be easier to read through than the online resources. I do have the NZ Fishing Rules app for quick reference on catch limits.

"Hook, Line & Sinker" very much looks like what I'm looking for. The photographic guide looks nice, but perhaps more for a marine biologist than a fisher.

I'm in Wellington, in case that makes any difference.

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Post Options Post Options   Likes (1) Likes(1)   Quote The Tamure Kid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Jul 2022 at 3:45pm
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Nice one. The land of monster gurnard!

The book I mentioned includes the likes of elephant fish, cod, gurnard, kahawai, snapper etc which are caught on lines in the Wellington area.And it has good details on the deep water species out in Cook Strait.
And if you're ever spear fishing on the south coast, butterfish etc.

It sounds like you've got the regs sorted on the app - so disregard the info on regs in Hook, Line & Sinker, it's most likely out of date. That would be the case with any book.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (1) Likes(1)   Quote davidc Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jul 2022 at 9:35pm
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Yep, best to get regs electronically. I'm just a bit clueless as to what the fish look like if they're not in a packet with a label on it :-)

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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote krow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Jul 2022 at 8:24pm
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I have a book called Coastal fishes of New Zealand by Malcolm Francis. Good as well First and last 1/3 is the fish common,family and scientific name with reference to the colour photo in the 2/3 of the book. Photos are the fish swimming. Has 153 fish.
Another I just found is called Marine Fishes of New Zealand by Heath/Moreland Eric Heath and John Moreland Old book 1967 (my print is 1976) all colour drawings but identifiable just 100 photos/descriptions. 
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote davidc Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jul 2022 at 4:45pm
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Thanks krow!

I've ordered "Hook, Line & Sinker" and will see how it goes. Looking forward to trying some real life IDing.

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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Fish Addict Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jul 2022 at 5:26pm
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Originally posted by davidc davidc wrote:

... I've ordered "Hook, Line & Sinker" and will see how it goes ...


I think you will find there are two books titled 'Hook, Line and Sinker'.  The earlier version was written by R.B. Doogue and dates back to the 1960s.



Another reference book is titled 'New Zealand Sea Anglers Guide' by Raymond Doogue and John Moreland.  This was first published around 1960.  This was my bible when I was a kid.


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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote krow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jul 2022 at 8:23pm
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Looks like I have another called Hook line and sinker too. Not a reference book though.

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Post Options Post Options   Likes (1) Likes(1)   Quote The Tamure Kid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jul 2022 at 9:19pm
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We had the Moreland one when i was a kid, Krow - a classic.

This is the book i recommended, by Daryl Crimp.


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