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Geoff Stone.
P O Box 163 ~ Russell ~ Bay of Islands ~ New Zealand
Phone 0274 377 844 ~ Home Phone/Fax 09 403 8553
Big Game ~ Sportfishing Safaris ~ Saltwater Light Tackle ~ Saltwater Fly ~ Cruising

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Geoffs' Fishing Report 29/12/02

The first of the marlin have finally arrived. Although nothing has been landed for the BOISC, several boats have dropped fish in the few days since Xmas, and two have been caught out of Tutukaka. Although we have had no hookups ourselves as yet, we have seen a couple of hammerheads, which is always a good sign for the proximity of marlin.

All the tunas are a 'bit slow off the rank', with no yellowfin as yet, and the skipjack schools yet to arrive. Once the skippies arrive, the concentration of big fish should be close behind.

Snapper fishing has been very good off Whale Rock, especially with lightly weighted pilchards floating down in the deeper water on the 40M to 50M mark.

Kingies continue to give good results around Bird Rock, and 71 M Reef, and with barracoutta finally beating a retreat, Rocky Point and Waiwiri Rock should also be producing good results.

Check your tackle and traces while livebaiting these areas from now on, because sooner or later you will hook up on a marlin!!! A flying gaff should be standard equipment, but don't fret if you haven't got one yet, as most marlin will give up the struggle quickly if you can grab the bill and pull the head out of the water. BUT MAKE SURE YOU'RE WEARING GLOVES!!! If releasing the marlin, and it's a bit sluggish, hold the bill, push the head under the water and slowly start forward. Once the fish is cruising upright, put the boat in neutral and let go.

As always, drop me an email at geoff@majortom.co.nz if you need any info.

Geoffs' Fishing Report 18/12/02

What do Charter Boat skippers do when they have a day off??  They go fishing of course.

Our day off this week has been a trip out wide, to where any further movement to the East would be likely to require the use of Spanish in conversation with the local Customs Officials.!!! Just me, Heather and our good fishing companion Gerry Garrett, (Always take a lawyer to deal with Chilean customs;- especially one who owns more fishing gear than you!!!)

For the last three years these days off have given us the chance to play with gear, try things out, and have the chance for the first marlin or yellowfin of the season, as well as a couple of club albacore records. No such luck yesterday. Just 5 albacore, all under 5kg, and the closest to shore was just outside the 500M line.

My best estimate is that the season is currently running about 5 weeks behind last year. This seems to be reinforced by the late arrival of kingfish to Bird Rock and 71Metre reef, but thankfully they are here now, and some great kingfish action has been available for the last few days.

The snapper were also late of course, but are now in full swing. Best fishing seems to be around Whale Rock, when weather permits, with Mita's Foul a good second best, though with the need to seek some comfort on windier days, we have been forced to accept the slower action at Capstan, Onslow and Black Rocks.

Our two recent trips around the Cape to Waiwiri, have been plagued with barracoutta, but the problem should ease as the water continues to warm up. As always I kept a couple of barracoutta in the freezer, and these proved good value as a tough bait option for our hapuka fishing.

Our best hapuka results have come from the series of trenches between Main Rock and the Nine Pin Trenches, with blue nose making up most of the catch.

Onslow and Kingfish Reef areas continue to produce some big terakihi.

As always, drop me an email to at geoff@majortom.co.nz if you have any questions, and I will try to respond as time permits with the busy season just starting.

Geoffs' Fishing Report 24/11/02

Although some big snapper are being caught in The Bay, the action is hardly fast and furious. Our own action over the .weekend included 5 fish over 15lb from the area around Meters Foul, caught on lightly weighted straylines with whole squid, or Pillies as bait. 4 of these big fish were lip hooked, reflecting the tentative nature of the bite. The fastest action was from deeper 65M water out from Whale Rock, with plenty of pan snapper and Terakihi taking small baits fished on ledger rigs. Let's just hope the weather stays calm enough to enable access to the deeper sites to continue.

After providing some great catches in close, the Hapuka seem to have moved on, with even reliable areas like Main Rock providing little action, but seemingly as compensation there are plenty of bluenose on the shallow trench areas between Main Rock and the Nine pin trenches, though fishing in 270M to 300M is not everyone's cup of tea.

Water temperature out wide has improved dramatically, with our highest reading being 19C while chasing the bluenose. Plenty of surface action surrounded us, with big work ups of Peruvian Mackerel and frequent Sunfish sightings. Seine pursers have been working the area, probably chasing the mackerel. The Peruvian mackerel look like a giant jack or yellowtail mackerel, without the yellow markings, and a more elongated body. There were also some as yet unconfirmed encounters with marlin, which doesn't seem surprising given the feed that is obviously available.

Barracoutta continue to make life difficult around our best kingfish spots, though we did catch one nice 10kg fish while chasing the pan
snapper outside The Whale. Hopefully the week will allow a chance for another early deep water trolling expedition, which will allow us something positive to report on the blue water scene soon.

As always drop me a line at geoff@majortom.co.nz if you need some more info, or have something interesting to share.

Geoffs' Fishing Report 6/11/02

The big news of the last week has been the sighting of a marlin, breaking up the school-fish at The Hole in the Rock. Early sightings are
normally treated with some suspicion, but this fish was seen by a professional skipper, just returned from 3 months in Portugal. The fish
was said to be a striped marlin around 80kg.

 Calm seas allowed us an excursion out wide off the Cavallis last week, but our day was very quiet. Water temps rose to around 18C at the 1000m line, but we couldn't find any of the Yellowfin that have been coming ashore with the longliners, and there was no sign of the albacore which were giving us such good action this time last year.

 The snapper fishing is improving steadily, with capstan Reef, and the shores of Roberton Island being most consistent. We have also had some good days off the Onlsow Reff, and if out early enough, some big fish have been active under the birds on Mita's Foul.

Kingies continue to be slow, but alternative action has been available around the 100M line from hapuka, which seem to have come in a bit closer this spring. The fish in close are not large, but with the strong westerly wind pattern persisting, are more accessible than our usual haunts out at the 200m line.

 As always, drop me an email at geoff@majortom.co.nz or if you're fishing the Blue Heelers Charity Tournament next week, we'll see you there.

Geoffs' Fishing Report 24/10/02

Although still not consistent, the snapper bite has improved with a slight rise in water temperature over the last couple of weeks. This has been especially evident around the Capstan area between Longbeach and Roberton Island, which has been producing some good fish in the evenings. Best results have been with straylines, using pilchards or split mackerel as bait.

Kingfish have been a reward for the  persistent, rather than an easy catch, but some good fish up to 15kg seem to have moved in to the
Hansens Reef/ Rocky Point area. Cape Brett has also been holding some good fish, but these seem to be easier prey for divers than anglers.

Some good catches of hapuka have come from the Main Rock, and other grounds out at the 200M mark, and Makos may be worth a dabble in those areas, as some half fish on our last trip indicate. We did hook up on the culprit, a stroppy fish around 120kg, but the hooks pulled at the boat.

Dave Arrell, on his new boat Double Strike, took a trip out wide, and found water up to 18C, but only managed to tangle with a large
skipjack, though albacore and the first yellowfin should be an option as we move in to November.

As always, drop me a line at geoff@majortom.co.nz  if you have any queries.

Geoffs' Fishing Report 8/10/02

The action has been mostly quiet over the last month, with sea temperatures down at 15Cto 16C. This has meant reduced activity by snapper and less feeding, though a school of good fish still hangs around Capstan Reef and provides some action when they finally decide to feed. Best results otherwise have come from land based and small boat anglers fishing close in to the rocks.

Kingies have also been a bit quiet, with barracoutta taking most of the livies up at Rocky Point. We have had some success on the various foul areas off Redhead, and some good fish have also been taken at the Hole in the Rock.

The compensation in close has been good catches of John Dory, so if things are a bit slow, try out a small livey close to the bottom. There is also the chance of a kingi or big snapper on the same rig.

 Hapuka have been very kind to us out wide, and we have also been catching some smaller longnose while terakihi fishing in 70M.

Terakihi are plentiful and in good supply on most of the reef fringes out from Urupukapuka, but seem to have moved off the grounds around Onslow that provided so much action last month.

The tuna longline fleet seems to be having difficulty finding any quantity of tuna, but hopefully prospects out wide will improve with
warmer water temperatures over the next month.

As always drop me an email at geoff@majortom.co.nz if you have any queries.

Geoffs' Fishing Report 13/9/02

The weather has been great, but the fishing a bit limited over the last couple of weeks.

Our one trip for hapuka, resulted in some great entertainment, with two fish over 70lb, and enough on deck by lunchtime to be able to tow some small lures in search of albacore for the afternoon. Although we saw some schools of small skippies we didn't find any pelagics keen to make the ultimate sacrifice.

The commercial tuna fleet also sems to have moved as their results have been dissapointing of late. With water temps still around 17C , we should be back in the action soon.

Snapper have been their usual patchy self for this time of year, though a school of good fish has been hanging around Capstan. The best
option might be to drift through these fish once you have located them on the sounder, as they seem to be keeping pretty much on the move.

Our most productive fishing in close has been for the large terakihi, which have moved in around Onslow Rocks, and also out from Hope Reef.

Kingi action has been limited, and a bit frustrating with barracoutta often first to the live baits.

As always, drop me an email to geoff@majortom.co.nz if you have any specific enquiries, or if you are thinking of a charter check out our availability at http://www.majortom.co.nz

Geoffs' Fishing Report 19/8/02

Returning from 5 weeks in England and Scotland, I can now reflect on how lucky we are to live and fish in New Zealand. Having been exposed to anglers with low catch expectations, who fish in depleted seas, with inclement weather, and who can only fish for premium fish like salmon if they are rich, or willing to take their chances with the law, our return to NZ, Bay of Islands and Russell has been filled with relief and anticipation.

Major Tom II is due back in the water next week, with the engineers, mechanics and electronics experts almost finished their 'winter
maintenance' raids on our bank balance.

The few boats who have been working regularly, report their catches as typically erratic for this time of year.

Some big snapper, up to 25lb, have been caught way out at Cape Brett, though not consistently, while the best action seems to be around the Brampton Reef, Onslow Rocks and Hope Reef. Onslow Rock and Hope Reef areas are also producing some good catches of Terakihi. If the action is a bit slow, try dropping a small livey down close to the bottom as the John Dory are in excellent condition.

Kingfish action has been a bit limited, and a bit difficult with competition from the razor gang. For the patient few willing to put up
with the barracoutta, results seem to have been better around Rocky Point.

If the weather is reasonable, you can always use the odd barracoutta for hapuka bait, with some good fish likely to be available on reefs
around the 100M line.

An interesting aside is the confirmed catch of a striped marlin, by a tuna longliner fishing north east of Cape Brett in just under 18 degree
water. Action seems to have been a bit limited for the longliners recently, but we'll continue to monitor their action, in the hope of
organizing an expedition for albacore and big-eye once our boat is back in the water.

An interesting news item that came to me last night, is the recapture of a tagged broadbill after 11 years. The fish was caught well to the north of NZ, by a longliner unloading to Australia. When originally tagged in 1991 it was estimated at 12kg. When recaptured, it tipped the scales at 168kg, which certainly suggests their growth rate is quite slow.

Anecdotal reports also indicate the size of broadbill landed in Australia has decreased dramatically, and also that NZ boats are catching a higher percentage of smaller fish. Can't help feeling our predictions of the effect of the amount of longlining, and targetting of broadbill, is starting to come true. If you have the opportunity or inclination to make your concerns known, why not make your views known to the minister. Try writing (not email as you'll probably get fobbed off) to Pete Hodgson, Minister of Fisheries, Parliament Buildings,
Wellington, NZ.

Most NZ recreational lobbies are suggesting immediate and restrictive quotas, banning of light sticks, and exclusion from areas close to the coast. Our longliners are not supposed to target broadbill, but are allowed to keep them as a by catch. This has become a joke and
action is needed if the broadbill is not to be forced into disastrous decline in our waters.

Regards and tight lines


Geoffs' Fishing Report 19/6/02

The length of time since the last report is a fair indication of fishing activity over the last month.

Bad weather continues to plague us, and with most of our forward planning focussed on broadbill, life has been a bit frustrating!!! The single successful day we have completed, since we last reported our catch on 15kg line, resulted in two hookups  on the day dift, but both fish 'got lucky', although one had to battle for over 10 hours, before the line broke at the double on 37kg line. In all that time we never got to see the fish, but we had the drag set over the button, on what later tested at 15kg of drag, for over 6 hours of the fight, so
we're convinced it was a pretty good sort of a fish. Our longest previous fight with a broadbill on 37kg tackle has been 6.5 hours , with
a lady angler on a 260kg fish!!!

The hardy souls who have been fishing the Three Kings, have been catching marlin quite regularly, with most of the action seeming to come from the King Bank.

We're waiting for the weather to clear for a couple of hapuka charters, but reports from both commercial and recreation fishermen indicate plenty of activity on our usual spots out at the 200M line.

Kingies have been supplying consistent light game activity, with best action at Cape Brett, and 71M Reef. We were having some great days at Rocky Point, but the barracoutta have moved in over the last week or so.We have also been fishing the Cavallis, but our best activity up that end has been on Taheke reef, and very few of those fish have made much more than 8kg.

Best of the snapper fishing remains in the deep water around Bird Rock, though weather has forced most of our fishing action to shift to
the broken foul area between Longbeah and Roberton island, which is producing consistent catches of very healthy pan snapper, but very few really big fish.

As always, drop me a line at MAJOR.TOM@xtra.co.nz if you have any questions

Geoffs' Fishing Report 14/5/02

Although marlin remain active off the Northland Coast, and the King Bank and Compass Rose areas are producing steadily  for those venturing to the Three Kings, fishing effort has tailed off over the last couple of weeks.

For our crew on major Tom II it is the time to indulge our passion for the "broadbill" hunt. After last years experiments, refining day time deep drops, and night time lures, we are focusing this year on exploring areas closer to home. The hope is that we can achieve consistent results reasonably close to home.

We were delighted therefore to hook up just inside the Nine Pin Trenches, in 300M of water off the Bay at 5.30am on Saturday. A very calm snapper trip, and 10knot variable outlook, had us back out after lunch, catching skipies ready for a night drift. My wife and deckhand, Heather, was to be the angler, and given the very calm weather, the decision was made to to use 15kg gear. We wouldn't recommend this tackle for catching broadies, but it remains Heather's tackle of choice. She may change her mind after playing this fish for 14.5Hours!!!!!!! Although just 62kg, the broadie was foul-hooked in the dorsal fin. If it had swallowed the skipjack it would have beaten the NZ record, but instead weighed in just 400gram short!!!!

Most of the best snapper action is out at 70M but with the return of barracoutta  we have also started to search the shallower water. The sand off Motukauri, is producing smallish pannies, but some good fish up to 12lb, are present on the sand, rock fringe from Tapeka to Longbeach.

Although the barracoutta are a turn off, some good kingfish are coming in from Cape Brett, and small livies fished deep off the Bird are giving a good mixed bag of average sized kingies and good sized snapper.

Once the weather clears, we will be back on the broadie hunt, so will keep you up to date with our progress. As always, drop me an email at
MAJOR.TOM@xtra.co.nz, and if you are starting to plan a trip for next year, let me know your preferred dates ASAP.

Geoffs' Fishing Report 21/4/02

For those still planning a marlin trip, the good news is that the fish are close in, with the best water being out the 120M line from Cape Brett up to North Cape. 

The best concentration of fish in this area seems to be right off the Bay. Huge schools of pilchards are forming a rich food source, which has given the marlin great conditioning but made them hard to catch. Mostly the fish are just playing with the lures, perhaps treating them as rival predators rather than food. Our trip yesterday resulted in seeing a total of 5 fish tailing, and getting two shots, one of which we are lucky enough to land, though the hook up was hardly convincing, being due to the size 17 Mustad circle hook wedging on the upper part of the bill. 

Circle hooks in lures is an experiment we have been using off and on for a couple of years. Our results so far do not provide a big enough sample to be conclusive, but early indications are that hook up rates are at least equivalent to 'J' hooks, and they certainly cost a lot less. We run the hooks free swinging , right at the bottom of the skirt.

Hotspots up North have been the Surville Cliffs, Compass Rose and Kings Bank. Slashes on two of our baits confirmed that broadbill are still
present on the Garden Patch, but weather prevented any concentrated effort.

Some good kingfishing is still available at Bird Rock, Redhead, and Rocky Point, with no sign of barracoutta to spoil the party.

Snapper have been slow in close, but some good fish are still taking live baits at the Bird, which indicates a fine day would produce some good fish in deep water for those prepared for a days hard winding. Pan snapper and terakihi have been an easy feed around Hope Reef, and our
fly-fishermen last week had a ball with the good schools of kahawai around Pig Gully and Redhead.

Geoffs' Fishing Report 3/4/02

Well, it's sure been bloody cold the last few days, but thankfully a few marlin have shown up close to home. Most of the action seems to be off North Cape, but regular hook ups are occurring for boats fishing out of the Bay, in 100 to 150 metres of water.

The Bay has also produced some good kingfish action, off Redhead, Rocky Point, and around Bird Rock, but at least one shark had a good feed of kingfish at the Bird today with two 10kg kingies bitten in half while our clients were playing their fish.

Snapper have been a bit tough to find close in, but Kahawai are providing plentiful and spectacular action which should gladden the anglers who have chartered Major Tom II next week for some fly fishing, with Kahawai as the focus.

Broadbill are back at the Garden Patch, but despite hook ups on both our recent trips, the fish won the day.!!

As always, drop me an email at  MAJOR.TOM@xtra.co.nz if I can help in any way, but please be patient for replies while the busy season is with us.  I must also aplogise for the bookings page on our website at http://www.majortom.co.nz/rates.htm not being updated for a couple of weeks, but give me a call and I can soon give you some dates form the good old notepaper system!!!!

Regards to you all


Geoffs' Fishing Report 24/2/02

The blue water has finally returned to the Bay, and the fishing has started to improve.

Most action for the Bay Charter Fleet over the last couple of weeks has come from boats doing live aboard charters and fishing from Whangaroa north. The Three Kings have given good results to the few boats already fishing those waters, with most of the catch being Stripeys. This action has now moved towards North Cape.

Those fishing wide off the Northland Coast have been catching some good Blues. This action seems to be in a tongue of water coming in just below the Garden Patch, and extending down to the Cavallis. Some Stripeys are also being caught, though mostly in around the 200m line or shallower, while the Blues have been out past the 400m line. Yellowfin have become only an occasional catch, but their are plenty of skippies in close.

Don't go too far for good snapper in the Bay. Most of our regular spots are producing plenty of throwbacks, but some good fish are being caught between Russell and Opua.

Kingies are there for the taking at Rocky Point, with some good fish also being taken around Whale Rock.

For some spectacular early morning action, try some light tackle on the huge Kahawai that are chasing the pilchards between Tapeka and the Black Rocks.

As always, send me an email at MAJOR.TOM@xtra.co.nz, and I will try to respond as time back at base allows.

Geoffs' Fishing Report 21/1/02

The weather may have come right, but the fishing seems to have gone off the boil a bit over the last couple of weeks. 

The Yellowfin that were giving us most of the blue water action have moved on, and though water temperatures are good at around 20C, the good blue water is a long way off the coast.. 

The fish are definitely out there, with action from both blue and striped marlin, reported from boats making the odd trip 40 to 50 miles off, so its really a matter of patience while we wait for the action to come closer in. 

We did manage to bag a Stripey two days ago, out at the Nine Pin Trenches, but the most reliable big game action is from Makos . Young Kelly Hunt, fishing with us on a family snapper trip, managed to catch herself a NZ Junior Record Mako of 114kg on 15kg line, then two days later, Alice Rowe, fishing on her fathers boat, "Ocean Ranger", set a NZ Record for 37kg line with a Mako of 239kg, which took a lure while marlin fishing. For those clients who have chosen to target Makos, the results have definitely been  better than for marlin. Guess that will soon change once the blue water hits the coast.

 Kingfish have been providing consistent results at Bird Rock, and around Cape Brett, but an unseasonable plague of Barracoutta has made Rocky Point an almost no go area, unless the anglers own a tackle shop.

The toothed pests have also been a problem for Snapper fishermen. With the spawning season over, many of the better Snapper have moved back to deeper water, but getting baits down to them through the 'coutta is a problem. Let's hope they move out in to their normal summer deep water homes once the blue water arrives.

As always, send me any questions to MAJOR.TOM@xtra.co.nz and I will try to respond as time permits.

Geoffs Fishing Report 3/1/02

Action is certainly hotting up, withsea currents reverting to their normal southerly flow. Blue water is still well offshore, but once out to the 400M line the action is pretty stunning. Big patches of krill are sustaining whales and anchovies, with skipjack and yellowfin crashing around on both anchovy meatballs and krill. Catch rates have not been spectacular , considering the number of fish that are obviously present, or the number of boats fishing, but at least part of the reason is most boats still running big marlin lures. Blue marlin have been landed on each of the last two days, and a couple of stripeys have been taken further south.

Of special note is the news that came through yesterday of a broadbill caught off the back of the Barrier by a JUNIOR angler, which has tipped the scales just a few kilos below the world record. The anglers at first thought the fish would weigh over 1000lb, which left most of us staring at our radios like 'stunned mullet', but the word I had last night was that the fish finally weighed in at 317kg, which is still an amazing effort by a junior.

Snapper remain patchy, though our own limited snapper excursion to the whale was extremely successful, with big fish falling easy prey to fresh bonito on ledger rigs, while plenty of kingies have congregated at Rocky Point, though the sizes are not huge.

Our one chance to hapuka fish landed us some good bluennose in just 230M, with the odd hapuka as well.

We're off out on a 5 day trip now, so will have to answer your emails when I return.

Major Tom Charters
Geoff Stone P O Box 163 ~ Russell ~ Bay of Islands ~ New Zealand
Phone 0274 377 844 ~ Home Phone/Fax 09 403 8553 ~ E-mail....geoff@majortom.co.nz

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