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Tauranga Harbour Kingfish Season

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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Coastbusters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 May 2019 at 7:37am
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I read somewhere that the riders are waiting for the Ray's to kick up the flounder, and that people have had some success with sinking flounder type lures, even some successfully using little squares of carpet!!
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Mudfish marquand Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 May 2019 at 9:50am
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I will mention a few things about the kingfish/ray relationship but will have to do it a couple of posts because my computer keeps freezing and I end up losing the lot. I have studied kings and rays in the TAURANGA Harbour for over eight years. I am retired and so spend every available opportunity on the flats, mostly at the TAURANGA end of the harbour. This works out to a bit under 350 days a year. There are three species of ray in the harbour, two stingrays, the short tail, the long tail and the eagle ray. Kingfish prefer to ride short tails, but I have also seen them riding long tails and I have caught riders off long tails. I have only once seen a king riding an eagle and after watching it for several minutes to make sure they were a couple, I caught the king which weighed 2kg. Small, but a king nevertheless.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Mudfish marquand Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 May 2019 at 9:59am
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I have seen kings riding short tails as early as late September and as late as early June. Most of the riders are seen from early November till late May. However this year, there were plenty of short tails over the hot summer months but very few with kings. On one day I saw 50 to 60 short tails on the flats and none had kings riding, but about a third of them were carrying medium size kahawai which provided great sport on the #2. I have seen more than a dozen kings riding a single short tail but it is usually one, two or three riders. As each year passes, I am seeing more short tails without riders ands those that have them are carrying fewer riders.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Mudfish marquand Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 May 2019 at 10:10am
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When a short tail is travelling on a mission to get from A to B, it is travelling relatively quickly and the kings are travelling over the ray's disc. If the short tail is mooching around at a slow to medium speed, the riders will range out five metres or more from the ray hunting for anything that moves. If the short tail has riders and is not moving much or is stationary, the kings range out a little further and will be seen tailing, showing their dorsal and tail fin. This is when they pit their heads into snapper holes and eagle holes foraging for protein rich crabs and shrimps, as well as cockabullies. I once was watching a resting short tail for perhaps twenty minutes, when a group of six 60cm to 70cm kings showed up and swam tight circles at a fast speed around it. My belief is that they had arrived at the bus station and wanted the bus to depart.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Mudfish marquand Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 May 2019 at 10:20am
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Just because kings are riding a short tail doesn't mean that they are going to eat. It is my belief that they do not feed just because the opportunity arises when they are riding a short tail. I have seen them go past bait fish that are within easy range an yet they weren't interested. Much the same way that reef kings will swim amongst their prey on a reef without showing interest in feeding. When there is more than one rider, it is far more easy to get a take, and the more riders, the better your chances. Single riders can be hard to get to eat sometimes. Sometimes when you hook up on a rider, some of the riders will decide to go with the hooked fish and if you trust your mate, you can end up with a double. Likewise, if you hook up from a short tail carrying riders, your mate can also hook up off the same ray. I have hooked up and landed a king, gone back to the ray and hooked up again.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (2) Likes(2)   Quote Mudfish marquand Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 May 2019 at 10:35am
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As far as why kings  associate with short tails, I believe it is totally a one way benefit for the king. They are a Carangid and many members of this family ride rays and sharks. Pilotfish are one example. One school of thought is that the short tails put up flounder which are pounced upon by the riders. A school of though from a noted swf colleague is that the ray acts as a cloaking device allowing the riders to take their prey by surprise. To me, this makes more sense.
 
I have just received a Private Message asking about locations. I do not disclose locations. If a fellow fly fisher is keen, I am happy to do my best to put him onto a king on one understanding, the kings are released. They are under tremendous pressure in TAURANGA Harbour both from recreational and commercial interests. I have seen a drop in their numbers and see a continuing decline. It is my opinion that they are more important going back into the resource than going through someone's butt hole. Cheers
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote FishMan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 May 2019 at 12:57pm
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That last line is a classic

Great information as always Dick Thanks for posting.

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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote FISHBYFLY Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 May 2019 at 7:09pm
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totally with ya on that one,
 
Its a fragile fishery, not a neverending chilly bin filler.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (1) Likes(1)   Quote Mudfish marquand Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 May 2019 at 7:50pm
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I appreciate your comment FISHBYFLY. 99% of fly fishers would agree with us. What sucks is that they are under commercial pressure and the commercial size limit is 65cm. There is a lot of pressure from recreational anglers with many targeting kings. Even amongst these anglers there is a growing concern for the harbour kings. Two of my mates live bait for the local kings and all are tagged and released. Another problem is the lack of care in handling kings that are to be released. I told one of these guys if he would like me to knock him down and drag him over the rocks. It didn't go down very well. We probably have around 200 tagged kings out there now. It is my understanding that one tagged king has been recaptured three times and seven have been recaptured twice. This has not been told to me officially, but was told to a friend. Hopefully the tagging will gives us information that will help authorities to manage the kingfish resource but I'm not holding my breath. I would prefer the harbour to be out of bounds for the commercial guys and the kings in the harbour to be catch and release only. That's bound to get someone going. Cheers
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Mudfish marquand Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 May 2019 at 12:17pm
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Wandered down the hill and waded out on the flats at around 0915hrs this morning. Keen to get out to one of my hotspots and catch the first of the incoming. While waiting I watched a gannet diving. A good sign and hopefully a promise of action to come. A big eagle with no tail cruised past. I decided to blind cast, as the visibility was difficult despite the clear sky. I had a follow that I reckoned was most probably a kahawai. There was a big bust up of piper well out of reach of my cast. Perhaps ten minutes later I had a big bow wave behind my fly and despite speeding up the retrieve the fly wasn't eaten. I fired the fly out again and had another follow but again the fly wasn't eaten. Further casts into the same area were without action. I reckoned there was a short tail out there with one or more riders. They would be wise to me so I didn't bother following them up. My faith in my candy was destroyed, so I changed to one of Pat's piper flies and continued fishing. I caught a glimpse of movement and turned to see the upper section of a kingfish tail showing above the surface 40 metres from me. As I waded to within range the dorsal also showed and I could see that it was a good size king. I fired the fly out, put ithe rod under my arm and stripped as flats as I could. The king launched itself at the fly and ate. I struck hard and hooked up. The king fought hard and got into the backing. A high speed 180 degree arc had the line zizzing as it cut the surface. I fought it hard as I backed out to the shore. The hook pulled just as I was about to step out onto the edge. I could have waded back out and perhaps I may have hooked up on another. But no, I was very happy. I'd lost the fish, but kept the experience.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Snuffit. Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 May 2019 at 1:18pm
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Thats awesome Dick!
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote FishMan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 May 2019 at 3:55pm
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Yep well done on finding a hungry late season kingfish.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote FISHBYFLY Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 May 2019 at 6:37pm
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Yes Sir Thumbs Up
 
good times
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (1) Likes(1)   Quote Mudfish marquand Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Jun 2019 at 6:22pm
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Headed down the hill and out on the Tauranga flats late morning to catch the last of the outgoing and first of the incoming. Cast at a small short tail and a rider came off and launched itself at my green eyed bait fish fly, hit it but didn't hook up. That was it! It is the latest in the season that I have ever seen a rider on the flats. Hopefully I will get another shot over the next few days. Caught a cracking kahawai which solved the what are we going to eat for tea tonight problem. Tomorrow however, it's back to the #2 and hopefully the opportunity to land a cracking kahawai.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (1) Likes(1)   Quote Mudfish marquand Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jun 2019 at 3:01am
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I did an analysis of my records this morning for the 2018/2019 kingfish season on the Tauranga Harbour flats. This is only for kings caught wading so there are no boat hours included. For the purposes of comparisons, I recognise the kingfish flats season as November 1 to May 31 inclusive. So for the 2018/2019 season, it was 43 hours per king. The past seasons are as follows: 2017/2018 season -27 hours per king; 2016/2017 season - 18 hours per king; 2015/1016 season -17 hours per king. The combined number of kings caught during these seasons is only 137. An expert at analysing statistics would no doubt find a lot of holes in my method, but these figures show a concerning trend. Cheers
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote FishMan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jun 2019 at 5:29am
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Very interesting stats Of course it would be easy to pick holes in records like that, but the broad trend is very obvious... and a little worrying.

What I like is the level of commitment it portrays. Nobody just rocks up to a Tauranga flat and catches a kingfish... it requires plenty of work!

Mostly though it really does make you wonder about how many new kingfish come into the Tauranga system every year? Your stats would suggest there is a high number of resident fish, which is worrying. It will be interesting to see what happens in the future.

Excellent work as always and thanks for sharing.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote smudge Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jun 2019 at 6:28am
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Very interesting reading alright. Good stuff MM
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote FISHBYFLY Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jun 2019 at 9:10am
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thanks for that MM,Thumbs Up
 
shows the value of independent record keeping.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Humpy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Jun 2019 at 9:06am
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Great experience Dick! My boat should arrive soon so we will have to chase some together in comfort next season? Cheers Kerry
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (1) Likes(1)   Quote Mudfish marquand Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Jun 2019 at 7:17pm
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Good to hear from you Kerry. Looking forward to seeing your new boat. Since you are a Forum member, I am taking the liberty  of showing fellow swoffers your tagged king from early in the season just passed. Cheers
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