Bluenose

  • HTC - Bluenose

Māori name:

M?tiri

Scientific name:

Hyperoglyphe antarctica

All-tackle NZ record:

40.4kg

Eating quality:

Excellent

 

Description

Bluenose are a deepwater species with chunky bodies, snub noses and extremely large eyes to see their favourite prey – squid – in the dark depths they inhabit. They are dark blue-grey on top with silver blue bellies and flanks.  

Bluenose can weigh up to 50kg but are more commonly caught in the 5-15kg bracket. They can be pretty aggressive fighters, often battling to the surface or succumbing to the pressure change further into the scrap than h?puku or bass.

Due to their high oil content and white flesh, bluenose are prized for their eating qualities, producing thick, white fillets that remain juicy and tender once cooked.

Where to catch

Found right around NZ, Bluenose are almost always associated with reef structures or drop-offs and generally school in water depths over 250m. Offshore seamounts or pinnacles, such as those found around Mayor and White Islands in the Bay of Plenty, and the Garden patch off Cape Karikari, are well-known bluenose hotspots.

If you can’t find anyone willing to part with their GPS coordinates, have a good perusal of the nautical charts and focus around the 300-400m contours. Any noticeable lump or drop-off around this depth is worth a prospect because that’s where there will be upwellings and prey for bluenose.

Although they can be found hard on the seafloor, they commonly school 30-50m (or more) above the bottom, unlike h?puku and bass.

When to catch

Bluenose can be targeted year-round but are easiest to find en-masse during late autumn when they school over seamounts to spawn. Once located, fishers can often enjoy a bluenose bonanza over these dense spawning aggregations; however, it’s only for a short period between April and June before they spread back out onto the various areas from where they came. Time of day or tide doesn’t matter much over this period – it’s simply a case of picking a calm day and getting your baits in amongst them.

How to catch

A sturdy two or three-hook ledger rig adorned with lumo or lights is the go-to for bluenose fishing. Given the depths bluenose reside in, a non-stretch braided line is mandatory, and a 32oz sinker is normally required. Most modern-day anglers fish for bluenose with electric reels – handy not only for conserving your precious energy but also because they feature a line counter that allows you to target where they are schooling in the water column. A decent sounder with a 1kw transducer should easily be able to pick up bluenose sign in 300-400m.

Bluenose have a varied diet, so many baits will do the job, although fresh squid and skipjack tuna strips are the best. There is no need for big baits; often a small bait like you might use for snapper will work better than a large one. Hook your bait through only once to ensure plenty of hook exposure for rolling into the corner of their mouths.

It is a long way down to bluenose schools, so you need to pick your drift and time it right to hit the zone. Using the boat engine in and out of reverse, or an electric trolling motor, certainly makes things easier.

Bites are generally indicated by a bouncing rod tip. At this point, begin winding firmly (or push up the retrieval lever if you’re going electric) to set the hook. Now, it’s simply a case of winding in your catch from 300m down or cracking open an Export while you watch your electric reel do the hard yards!

 

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