Major Sportfishing Species
This acrobatic and beautiful fish is the predominant billfish species present in New Zealand waters and the most commonly targeted by anglers. The largest of this species, found any where in the world, swim in the waters off New Zealand. A typical capture is around 200lbs but fish of over 350lbs are taken each season, with the best to date just short of 500lbs. Best fishing: Mid January to May.
Characterised by a “ballistic” display of unpredictability, Blue Marlin captures are becoming increasingly frequent over recent years. Preferring warmer waters, their season is slightly shorter than that of their striped cousins and due to their preference, out wide in deeper areas, they are less frequently targeted. Typical size is around 400lbs but much larger fish are regularly lost. The NZ record to date is 1,015lbs. Best fishing: February/March. New record set April 2009 at 1,063lbs.
Due to the nature of these fish to be territorial and prowl inshore reefs, these rugged predators are seldom targeted but when they are, or are caught by chance, they tend to be big. Our record stands at 977lbs but there is no doubt that there are granders out there waiting to be challenged. Tolerant of a wider range of water temperatures the potential season is longer. Best fishing: January to June but potentially all year.
New Zealand remains one of the last places in the world where an angler stands a good chance of battling with a sizeable Broadbill. Battle is an appropriate term for those daring to take on the “gladiatior of the sea”… surely the pinnacle of salt water fishing. Fishing at night enhances the feeling of mystery that swords provoke though, if solidly hooked, you are quite likely to be playing the fish until daylight. The successful new development of deep drifting in daylight hours, has encourged greater anglin effort. At 812 lbs, the best sword to date is a magnificent specimen but we know there are much larger fish out there… the problem is reeling them in! Best fishing: All year but usually targeted March to June.
Pacific Bluefin Tuna
Formerly known as the Northern Bluefin, the potential of catching one of these tough fish has only been raised in profile relatively recently. Although known to widespread in their distribution, the best opportunity for success seems to be during a short winter season off the south west coast. The current potential here is tremendous and the best fish of 715lbs is sure to be bettered as fish well in excess of 800lbs have broken free. Best fishing: July to September.
The most commonly encountered of the larger Tuna species to visit our shores, the beautiful Yellowfin is regularly encountered in the summer months. Fish of around 45lbs are typical but every year yields specimens up to 150lbs. These fish are usually taken on heavier gear intended for Marlin, but by scaling down in tackle they can be a great sportfish. Sadly, numbers of YFT’s has reduced greatly in recent years. Best fishing: December to March.
Big Eye Tuna
Specialised tactics would increase the numbers caught of these solid fish but reasonable numbers are still encountered each season. A typical weight would be over 100lbs but the best fish of 306lbs shows the potential for the species here. Best fishing at daybreak: January to March.
One of the few shark species to justify the title of a game species, the Mako is a speedy, aggressive and acrobatic adversary that knows no fear. Most Makos are caught accidentally when trolling for Marlin and these would usually be smaller specimens but a change of tactics would show the drama you could invite with huge fish previously caught to a weight of 1059lbs. All year.
These “ruffians of the reef” are great sporting fun, representing a great challenge on any tackle. No minnows in the size stakes, they reach 100lbs but smaller specimens will give you a good run for your money being hard to stop as they rush for the rocks. Many skippers consider that, pound for pound, they are the hardest fighting species available. All year but regional peaks apply.
These are many and varied, too numerous to detail in full but too impressive to ignore:
Snapper – A fun table fish growing in excess of 30lbs. All year.
Mahi Mahi – A summer visitor, spectacular in appearance, performance and eating quality. Up to 30lbs. February/March.
Wahoo – Rare summer speedster, but a pleasant surprise at up to 80lbs. February/March.
Albacore – Tasting like the “chicken of the sea” this small tuna also offers great light tackle sport, reaching weights of 40lbs.Temperature tolerant, therefore offers a longer season. November to June.
Skipjack Tuna – The humble Skippy is also great fun on light tackle, capable of reaching weights of 20lbs.December to May.
Chinook Salmon – Also known as Quinnat and reaching 40lbs. December to February.
Hapuka – Also known as Wreckfish. Usually caught in deeper water and will really make your arms ache as they reach in excess of 150lbs. Bass; a very similar species of very similar weight. All year but mainly targeted in winter.
Southern Bluefin Tuna – A winter migratory species, recently overshadowed in the south west by their larger cousins. Hardly a sporting fish to ignore, however, as they reach an impressive 350lbs plus. December to February.
Thresher sharks – Two species occur; the deepwater “big eye” sometimes caught when fishing for Broadbill and reaching weights well over 1,000lbs and the leaping “green” Thresher, up to 800lbs plus, which prefers shallower water and has a habit of swatting lures with its elongated tail. All year.
Tiger shark – Summer visitor, rarely caught due to fishing techniques employed but present nevertheless. Biggest to date 850lbs. February/March.
Hammerhead – Another summer visitor attaining weights in excess of 450lbs. Mid January to April.
Blue Shark – Up to 450lbs. All year.
Great Whites – Big enough to scare the pants off you and still legal to catch on rod & line—but for how much longer?Stop press: Nov 2006, Great Whites are now officially to be a protected species from 1stApril 2007. Accidental catches must be released. Present all year.
Bronze Whalers, Tope, Kahawai, Trevally, Stingray, Eagle Ray, Bluenose, John Dory, Trumpeter, Parore, Tarakihi, Blue Moki, Blue Cod… and more!