The list of the contents of our bait freezer reads like a menu for the rest of the world, yet most Kiwi anglers have relegated the snapper’s small cousins – mackerel, piper, sprats – to the bait freezer for the longest time.
But a reload of your mindset and a non judgmental palate may surprise you – they really taste good.
Easy to catch and plentiful, the little guys line up to bite small pieces of bait or sabiki flies.
Sabiki flies are a string of small hooks with small moth-sized wings on them, they’re terriffic. Sometimes, a tiny cube of bait is needed on the hook, to turn on a hot bite. Bounce your sabiki on the sea floor from a boat or wharf, and you’ll often have a bucket full-o-fish quick-smart.
Metric or imperial tackle, take your pick. We source tackle from all over the world. The US uses imperial measures, Asian-sourced tackle is mostly metric. New Zealand tackle has a partial hangover from it’s imperial past.
Tackle described in imperial measurements can look like this: 4oz sinker, 20lb line, 7′ fishing rod.
A 112g sinker sounds odd to New Zealand ears, so here we say 4 ounces. Fishing line IGFA (International Game Fishing Association) line classes are in kilograms: 1kg, 2kg, 3kg, 4kg, 6kg, 8 kg,10kg, 24kg, 37kg and 60kg. We find that, when people order standard “snapper” in the store, their order depends on age: baby boomers and older still ask for tackle in imperial. Even the young ones ask for 4oz sinkers.
Fishing rods are measured both in imperial and metric, but most are made to the base size of an old imperial measure: 6 feet , 7 feet, etc; rod guides and reel seats are usually metic.
Fishing reel spool capacities are recored in pounds and kilograms; some now have a braid rating and some have line diameter which comes in inch or millimetre increments. No wonder people get confused!
Shock leader, or trace, is mostly referenced in pounds, even thought it is usually from Asia. A crossover label reads “100lb breaking strain”, but you get a 30m roll.
Fishing hooks have their own measure system, sizing starting at the smallest: sizes 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1 then 1/0, 2/0, 3/0, 4/0, 50, 6/0, 7/0, 8/0 upwards to the largest, 18/0. Fish hooks come in are different measures even though they are the same size rating, depending on manufacturer
With clients of all ages, from pre- or post-metric era (1987) buying tackle, any measurement unit is acceptable as the currency of tackle, as long as it works.
Northshore times fishing column 28-3-2013 By fishing columnist Greg Hill
Inchikus have been the most productive and popular snapper bottom-fishing lures for the past three summer seasons, and they are here to stay.
Inchikus are Japanese-inspired, small, 15-240g, finger-sized, weighted, lures, rigged with a free swinging octopus skirt with chemically sharpened assist hooks.
They are best fished on light braid (10-15lb) and basically bumped on the sea floor, while drifting. Hooks should be light. The “knock off ” heavy-hook inchikus reduce the hook-up rate when fish are finicky, and also tangle about the main line on the drop.
Inchikus are not so much retrieved from the sea floor as raised, in a stutter-motion. Or if the fishing is slow, dragged along the sea floor. Fish often inspect lures with their mouths even if they are not feeding, so if you detect a tug on an inchiku, don’t strike because the sharp hooks will do the job. The hooks are light, so a drag rating of about 3-4kg is ample.
The reward for having to use light hooks and light drag settings, is the hook ups during tough times. Colours are more important in the shallows (8-50m). Glow, blue, and green lures work best in the 40m plus range as most other colours dissipate at depth.
The list of what inchikus won’t catch is small. I’ve seen bonito, gurnard, John dory, mackerel and snapper after snapper, up to 16lb, caught in all conditions.
Inchikus are almost the silver bullet of fishing. They last all day, give you more, easier, lure movement and increased contact time on the sea floor: which equals more fish catching.
Northshore times fishing column 11-4-2013 By fishing columnist Greg Hill
The holidays upon us. Time to “take a a kid fishing”….
I still remember my first fishing expedition – and “fish”, albeit an eel. The site of the epic battle was Long Bay creek, just below the Vaughan Homestead. I was three, the eel was long! A piece of butcher’s string and a rusty hook was my tackle of choice; no doubt the bait was offal. I still remember the cheering crowds, and I’m not sure but I think there is still a brass plaque on the spot.
I didn’t realise at the time that I was hooked, and I’ve been fishing ever since, sometimes regularly, sometimes not for months. But for most fisher-humans, once they start it can grow into an interesting hobby. Some make it a sport, most never stop.
Taking a little kid fishing is just that: take the kid fishing. Leave you own gear at home. One rod or line for them, and focus on keeping their hook baited, and keep the line close to the piles if you’re on a wharf. A chair is good too; you can keep them planted and safe. On a boat it depends on their sea legs, so take a short exploratory trip first.
On land or sea, be willing to quit when they start to get scratchy. Even half an hour fishing is fine – little kids’ attention-span can limited, especially if there’s no hot bite.
Fish early or later in the day and fish any tide. Use little rows of hooks called sabikis, with a small ball of bread on each hook – works great. Use a heavy sinker to stop the wrigglers flaying about dangerously.
You don’t need rod and reel (although you can get a decent kid’s set for about $40), a hand line will do. Your kids will love it, hopefully its the beginning of their “outdoor campaigns”. Your sprat-eating cat will love it too.
Northshore times fishing column 25-4-2013 By fishing columnist Greg Hill
We have two types of fish in New Zealand: big ones (kingfish and bigger) and small ones (smaller than a kingfish). Yet we have hundreds of rod and reel combinations, of every size and capacity. The list of lure choices sounds like a verse from Dr Seuss: long ones, short ones, fat ones, bright ones, light ones.
At GoFish, our 30m2 lure wall has more than 4000 lures. One model alone can offer 5 or 6 colour choices, with 5-6 different weights. There are variants of the same lure for the same fish, but different only for the depth of water or the wind and current conditions they are used in. And, because fish feeding patterns are also variable – sometimes aggressive, sometimes just grazing – this also determines lure size selection.
So, an average rule for lure selection for “small” fish is: if you are a fair-weather fisher, and fishing (drifting) in about 8-10 knots of wind, a 70-120g lure will get you to the bottom, depending on the current. This size is optimum for most feeding conditions.
Fishing in stronger wind, 12-18 knots, you will have trouble getting to the bottom with an effective-sized lure, so anchor up and use bait. Though it’s a bumpy ride, it’s your best chance in stronger winds because the drift will be too fast for effective lure-fishing.
The same rules apply to rod and reel selection, though that’s largely determined by the drift, or depth at which you are fishing – in deeper water you need a heavier lure or sinker, so you need heavier line and more capacity.
If weather conditions were “five knots, variable” every day, we would use in all depths, 10lb line, a 15g lure for “small” fish, and have a ball, sport fishing..
So to catch one fish, two fish, a red fish or a blue fish, match the conditions. Have a variety of lure weights, matched with the correct rod and reel set (lighter that’s a 10lb braid set or a heavier set, with 20-30lb braid).
Northshore times fishing column 02-5-2013 By fishing columnist Greg Hill
Fishing from a boat or the shore at this time of year, live-baiting is a good option to catch kingfish (legal size 75cm).
The Auckland harbour/gulf, 46m at its average deepest, is too shallow to effectively jig for good size kingfish. That leaves other options: trolling with bibbed diving lures around structure or shallows, stick-baiting, or live-baiting.
The squeamish might want to look away now: that leaves live-baiting. Live-baiting is just that – a small, live, bait fish is impaled by a small, sharp hook, and presented at depth (or partly suspended near the surface by a party balloon). Mackerel, koheru, live squid, or small kahawai are the best live-bait to catch a kingfish. A big snapper snapper will also take them.
Live bait is usually pinned through the scruff of the neck just below the skin with the point of the hook facing forward.
To increase your hookup rate and presentation, use a 2m, 60-80lb fluorocarbon leader. A 4/0-8/0 lightweight hook will not tire the bait to quickly.
Tie the hook on with a Rapala loop or free swinging loop, so the bait presents more naturally and swims in a less restricted motion.
Best be ready when the kingfish strikes. Have your reel drag set correctly, fresh knots and line in good condition. If you hook a kingfish, watch when it gets close to the boat because often a few fish – maybe bigger – will follow it so have a fresh live bait (with a 3-4oz egg sinker on your main line) ready to drop.
You’ve probably got another 4-5 weeks of kingfish action in the gulf – make the most of it.
Northshore times fishing column 18-4-2013 By fishing columnist Greg Hill
The old wisdom, that 10% of fishermen catch 90% of fish, is surely a miscalculation.
Productive, or “lucky”, fishing is about more about being effectively adaptable to what is going on – the drift, the current, matching the conditions all through the day – than it is about dumb luck.
Most importantly, if something isn’t happening, do something. Example: if you’re fishing jigs and inchiku-style lures and the bite is slow, either move the lures more or try keeping them keep almost still.
You could try using a much smaller lure, or tempt the fish with a flitter-fluttery lure, and use a lighter line weight. The smaller lure will likely have a lighter hook so, if the fish are just pecking, it will add a bonus hookup.
The same is true for traditional fishing with bait – if it’s not working, try something new. Change to lighter line (6-8kg) if stray-lining in the shallows (no sinker, floating bait), and tie the hook straight on the end.
Braid in the deep will help detect bites, and a soft-tip rod is probably the most underutilised tool in all situations.
Smaller hooks are not a good idea for bait, as the fish get them down their throats, making it almost impossible to release them unharmed. It’s best to use quality, chemically sharpened, octopus-style hooks (5/0 -8/0), and quality brands like Owner and Gamakatsu.
Feeling the bite while using bait is key. If you are stray-lining, fish in free-spool with the reel warning clicker on, or with your thumb on the spool to stop over-runs. In deeper water the reel is usually in gear, and that’s where the softer, more sensitive rods really come in to play. You feel the explorative fish nibble, the fish gets hooked… easy.
The true path to “trying” to be a 10%er fisherman is, to quote Yoda: “Do, or do not. There is no ‘try’.”
Northshore times fishing column 09-5-2013 By fishing columnist Greg Hill
Fishing reels are little machines which should give years of service with care and regular maintenance.
The biggest premature killer for reels is poor maintenance and salt/electrolysis corrosion. Salt conducts electricity and, with dissimilar metals being used in most reels, the residual salt eats poor-grade aluminium and magnesium found in many modern reels.
New Zealand’s salt water is in the higher range of salinity, so more maintenance is the price you pay for light weight reels with modern materials.
So what should you do with your reel after it gets wet? Lets start with the ”don’t do” things… Petrochemical-based aerosols are not recommended, as they flush the oils from shafts and bearing and leave a fish repelling residue on the line. Some lanoline-based products expand rubber seals, destroy handles and build up in bearings.
Filling your reel with grease is also not a good idea as the salt sticks to the grease and eventually clogs up your bearings and gears with salty-gunky grease.
My recommended cleaning regime for fishing reels is a light detergent and fresh water spray. Do your drag up lightly while spraying, then dry the reel with a rag.
Preventative maintenance should be a drop of reel lubricant on spinning reel shafts and line rollers. Bait-cast reels have a port for regular oiling as do most overhead reels. Loosen the side plate screws and lightly oil them to ease disassembly for servicing at a later stage. Reels with level-winds have many driving cogs so need more maintenance to keep things moving (most are trouble, eventually). Leaving the drag wound up tight will see some components eventually stick together, so always back it off after use.
The odds of an early grave for your reel are reduced if you invest in mid- to high-end reels and keep them serviced and maintained. The side-of-the-road, dump-bin, sub $40 reels were born astride a salty grave, so good luck with them!
Northshore times fishing column 14-3-2013 By fishing columnist Greg Hill
So what’s this braided line, Dyneema and Spectra? They are different names for knitted polyetheleyne filaments – spiderweb-thin filaments. A small thing, but it’s been instrumental in changing the way a lot of people fish
The filaments are fused or “knitted” into multi-strand braid with X3, X4, and X8 ply ratings. There are many variables, but generally, you are paying for knitting time. Less knitting time, means looser weave and flatter braid. More knitting time results in rounder line, which casts better and is more durable. Same material, it’s what they do with it.
With the development of these super-fine super-lines, you can now fish deeper and for bigger fish, with what used to be considered tiny trout fishing or sprat-catching, sized rod and reel.
A major advantage of braid is that you can present a tiny 15g lure or jig to fish on the sea floor without the parachute-like drag effect of traditional monofilament. Also, small, snack sized lures are generally more attractive to the larger fish. Yay!
Braid is tougher than steel. It has no stretch, so you feel the bite and it’s thinner than momofilament (of a similar breaking strain) so you can cast further. Braid also outlasts monofilament, and is substantially less affected by currents.
The size/PE rating system is mad. For example PE:1 can be 12lb in one brand and in another 25lb. Some 10lb rating breaks at 25lb; others at 15lb or 10lb. Confusing? Yes. Talk to a well informed tackle supplier.
When should you use braid? As general guide, use braid for lure fishing. A good rule is if you use braid for fishing with bait, put a heavy weight on the end.
So. What’s the best braid to use? Not the cheapest. Stick to your knitting, as they say. An X8 ply braid costs 10-15% more when you buy it, but it’s ultimately better value.
Braid size guide:
Softbaiting, 10-12lb; inchiku/slow jig,10-15lb; deep water snapper, 10-20lb; stick bait/popper, 50-80lb; heavy jigging/puka 50-100lb.
Lure of the week: Shimano orca stickbait 160mm green mackerel.
Northshore times fishing column 07-3-2013 By fishing columnist Greg Hill
This time of year it’s possible to catch kingfish top-water while they are feeding on corralled baitfish, and their added aggro during spawning means they are keen to bite. Fishing with a live-bait and balloon is traditionally effective, with the right size bait and rig. Stick-bait and popper fishing, however, is another method that has been widely adopted in the past few years. Imagine casting a straight banana, or a classic coke bottle, with treble hooks attached, and you’ll get the idea.
Poppers are coke-bottle shaped, fished from the fat end. Poppers – cast and retrieved from a stationary boat – push surface water, mimicking a fleeing baitfish, with the angler using a pulsing-pumping action while retrieving. Stick-baits (the straight banana) come in floating and sinking variations: floating for calm days with less wind, sinking for rougher, windy days. When retrieved fast they look like a drunken lizard running across surface. Stick-baits are generally more productive than poppers but poppers are often better at raising fish. They both come in plastic or wood. Plastic is more durable and can be tuned with factory tricks including cast weights and internal rattles. Wood can get bruised and waterlogged, but wooden poppers can have good harmonics that seem to draw the fish. Some wooden models fetch huge dollars but that’s mostly a case of The Emperor’s New Clothes. The average $40 stick-bait or popper is sweet enough candy for kingfish.
Two anglers fishing in combination, one raising the fish with popper and the other with the “Trojan” stick-bait is a effective tactic. Cast around headlands with current, and buoys, structure, or wharves. Lures can weigh 15-180g, and measure from 50-230mm. A safety tip, squash the treble hook barbs flat – the fish won’t fall off.
Lure of the week: Power Jig pop popper 120g. Colour: Blue pink mac.
Northshore times fishing column 28-2-2013 By fishing columnist Greg Hill