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Major Tom Charters

Geoff Stone.
P O Box 163 ~ Russell ~ Bay of Islands ~ New Zealand
Phone 027-437-7844 ~ Home Phone/Fax 09 403 8553
Big Game ~ Sportfishing Safaris ~ Saltwater Light Tackle ~ Saltwater Fly ~ Cruising

Latest Reports    2005 Reports      2003 Reports        2002 Reports        2001 Reports

Geoffs' Fishing Report 19/12/04

A continuation of strong and cool west to southwest winds has restricted both the opportunity to fish, and the catches once out there.

Best results continue to come from our occasional hapuka trips, with most of the rock areas out at 200M holding fish, though they are not schooling, and may take some searching out. Bluenose have also moved in to the series of trenches between Main Rock and the Nine Pin trenches, though fishing in 270M to 320M is not everyones cup of tea.

Barracoutta are proving a plague on kingfish excursions. Although we have caught some good kingies at Bird Rock on the Rapalas, they are also proving attractive to the toothed critters, and we are having to put up with some expensive gear losses. While I am a big fan of Rapala type lures, I do recommend you remove the treble hooks, and replace with singles. We use a size 6 or 8 open gape style, and are able to release smaller fish with a minimum of damage. Multiple hookings with trebles will not only stifle a fishes fighting ability, but  will often do non survivable damage to the fish. They are also extremely dangerous to whomever is taking the fish off (usually me). As the sea warms, the barracoutta will return to the cooler water out deep, and we will be able to return to using livebaits.

Inside the bay, water temps are still down at 15.5C to 16C, and the snapper's metabolisms have dropped, despite being fully roed up after the warmth of early November. Although fishing is slow, the cooler temps have kept terakihi in close to create a welcome late season addition to what are often very meagre returns. Some good action can still be had if out at dawn, fishing the pilchard schools off the end of Roberton Island and around Whale Rock, but once the sun is up the best of the bite will have passed.

Jason Wooten, skipperring Te Arika Nui, landed a 119kg stripey on the 8th Dec to give the club a second early marlin, but recent trips out wide have not resulted in the skippies and  albacore we would expect at this time of year. The Club's only yellowfin catches remain those taken north of North Cape by Striker while returning from Vanuatu. Jason caught his marlin in 17C water at the 500M line, and the water warmed close to 18C out at 850M, yet in early November we were fishing in over 20C in the same zone. At least we know the fish are out there, so let's hope for some warming to occur, to kick the season into life over the Xmas period.

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

Geoffs' Fishing Report 23/11/04

With water temps dropping off about a degree over the last week, the snapper action has slowed down for those unable to fish first light or dusk. The situation has been complicated by a big influx of barracoutta, making life difficult for those fishing the pilchard schools around Mita's Foul that had been so productive over the last fortnight. Our best results have been while fishing the change of light, out at Whale Rock, and then changing to ledger rigs and anchoring over the soft foul areas in the middle during the day. Hopefully the sea temp will move back up again fairly soon providing a better daytime bite, and pushing the 'coutta back out to deeper water.

Kingis have made their return to Bird Rock, with some large schools of rats providing some sporting potential on light tackle, and the odd larger fish up to 15kg occasionally joining the fun. If live baits are proving too frustrating among the 'Coutta, try towing some Rapalas or small lures as an option.

Our hapuka trips remain stunning. Our most recent charter of 5 anglers catching their two fish each within an hour and fifteen minutes. We are heading straight out to our possies beyond the 200M line. Although some fish remain on the closer rocks, the deeper rocks are proving more consistent. After completing our hapuka trip on Saturday, we headed straight in for some more snapper action, as the water out wide showed less promise for pelagics than the previous couple of weeks.

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

Geoffs' Fishing Report 8/11/04

With a '10 knot variable' forecast, Sunday 7th November was the sort of day that was too good not to go fishing, so a group of Russell locals chartered Major Tom II to take them out after Hapuka, and replenish the freezer stocks.

The fishing was great, and by 11.15am they had filled their quota (Major Tom, as a member of the Charter Assn fleet applies a voluntary 2 fish limit), so the decision was made, with water temps over 18C in the midday sun to troll for some Albacore, or perhaps the first Yellowfin.

Two Skipjack had been landed by the time the 500M line was reached, but no signs of Albacore, so we made the decision to make for home, via the Nine Pin Trenches.

Bird life increased, and a few small fish  could be seen evading the boat's path in the smooth glassy seas, then bang smack on top of the outside trench, a 'something' was idling along, sunning itself in the afternoon heat.

"If it wasn't so early, I'd swear it's a Marlin, I'll go closer, must be a shark, BLOODY HELL!  it is a Marlin," as the fish turned towards the boat's wash, turned again, raised it's dorsal and trailed in behind the small blue, brown and white Bonze lure, that had been so effective on tuna for us last year.

Three times it shimmied up to the lure, and on the third attempt, as we increased speed slightly, the marlin struck, and started taking line from one of our 15kg Penn Internationals. There was nothing particularly spectacular about the fight, and after 35 tense minutes, Heather placed a perfect tag shot to catch Graham Sowerby, the former Russell weighmaster, his first pin fish ever, and his first marlin since 1990.

Geoffs' Fishing Report 1/11/04

Action has been muted in the Bay, with the winds restricting activity in the first half of October, and static water temps just under 15C slowing fish activity right up to the beginning of November

Water temps are rising now, and Mita's Foul has started to produce it's early season snapper action, though the fish are not large at this stage. The biggest snapper are still in close around the rocks, and straylines in the shallows around Tapeka Point have been very productive, especially towards the top end of the incoming tide, and at change of light.

Kingis are still scarce, but should start their annual pre Xmas congregation around Bird Rock very soon, though these fish are not usually large.

Our trips out wide have been severely limited by the winds during October. Hapuka remain over most of the foul in good numbers, though having cast their roes, are not as schooled up as a month ago. Blue nose have moved in to the trenches out from Main Rock to add variety and options to these trips, as should the presence of albacore, and the probability of the first of the yellowfin appearing in November.

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

Geoffs' Fishing Report 2/10/04

Best of the fishing action for September has been hapuka trips on the few occasions that the weather has co-operated. 

The action has moved away from the shallower waters around Cape Brett, back out to the foul areas along the 200M line. Although most of the fish have cast their eggs some are still heavily roed.

In closer, tarakihi continue to provide the most reliable action, especially in the 60M area around the Nine Pin. 

Some good snapper are being taken in the shallow reef areas at the back of Russell Peninsula. We are catching some pannies out in the middle that are heavily roed, even at this early stage of the season, and we expect the action to hot up as we approach the end of October and the water starts to warm up.

Kingfish have not been co-operating. The fish that were providing so much action in the bay have moved off with the anchovy schools, and though a few have been caught at Rocky Point and 71M Reef, the best action seems to have come from around the bait fish which have started to congregate at the Bird Trench. Big silver jigs seem to be the order of the day if you're lucky enough to locate a feeding school. As with the snapper, warmer water as we move towards the end of October should improve the kingie action also.

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

Geoffs' Fishing Report 28/7/04

July's weather may have been bloody awful, but we've had some great snapper and kingi action in the Bay when conditions have allowed.

Some big snapper are mooching round the rocks, and the recent Paihia Snapper jackpot was taken out by 'rockhoppers' with the top two fish weighing over 9kg. The boaties may not have rated in the biggest fish, but the deeper 80M water out from the Bay is producing consistent supplies of pannies, and the first of the tarakihi. Large schools of anchovies are still hanging around inside the bay, - most recently between Redhead and Motikiekie Island. Kingis up to 15kg have been gorging themselves, and some good snapper have been hanging under the schools. Keep the sounder on while travelling the Bay, and if you find the schools use jigs or lightly weighted pillies and small live jack mackerel for a good feed and the possibility of some exciting kingi action.

71M Reef, Cape Brett and Rocky Point have also produced reasonable but erratic action, though our own best fishing has come from the Cavallis and Cape Karikari, where fish over 20kg have been feeding readily on large livebaits. Even the snapper are co-operating and we have caught a number of big reds up to 7kg as a tasty by catch, especially with blue koheru baits.

Hapuka are also back on the calender, with fish roed up and schooling. Don't go too far though, as much of the action has been happenning in close, particularly the foul and trench areas in 100 to 120M out from Bird Rock.

Major Tom II comes out of the water for winter maintenance during August, and we're off to Scotland to catch 'mudfish' in the Tweed, but continue to send any emails or queries to geoff@majortom.co.nz and I'll clear them as opportunity allows.

Geoffs' Fishing Report 19/6/04

With the big game fishing season over, much of the focus is now on kingfish, and what a season we're having in the Bay!!! 

Good stocks of fish have congregated on all the favourite fishing possies, especially around the Cavallis and Waiwiri Rock where the fish are being held by large schools of blue mackerel. If any back up confirmation was needed of how good the fishing is, it was provided by the Bay of Islands International Light Tackle yellowtail tournament. Fishing on 6kg line, the 25 teams landed 102 kingies, which is more than 3 times the catch of any tournament in the last 3 years.

In defending their title, the team on Major Tom II landed 15 fish,and with 14,902 points beat the previous best points tally in the 35year history of the tournament by 4,000 points. Of their 15 fish, 5 were over 20kg, with the biggest fish being caught on runner up boat Diomedia, and weighing in at 30kg. 

As well as landing 15 fish the Major Tom II team, having landed their boat limit of 6 fish, also tagged and released 2 fish on day two, and one of these fish was then caught by a junior from the Warkworth club a couple of days later, and weighed in at 14.8kg. All the action for Major Tom II came with blue koheru as bait, fishing at the western end of the Cavallis, but both live baits and jigs were successfully used by teams fishing at Cape Brett and Waiwiri Rock. 

Snapper fishing has been patchy, but some good fish continue to be caught in the deeper water around Bird Rock, and the shallows around Russell Peninsula. Our own most recent trip was to Hope reef, where we took some nice pannies and terakihi, fishing with ledger rigs on the rock/mud interface. 

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

Geoffs' Fishing Report 16/5/04

With warm blue water rapidly becoming a distant memory from previous months, most of the top action is now focussing on kingis. Some very good kingis, up to 25kg, have been taken at Waiwiri Rock, with good fishing also available at The Dog, 71 Meter Reef, and Rocky Point. Jack mackerel remain the most popular baits, though kahawai seem to be working best on the big fish.

Major Tom's kingfish efforts have been around the Cavallis and Cape Karikari, on downtime from broadbill charters, and these areas have also produced consistently good fish around 20kg. Kahawai has also been our bait of choice.

The best snapper fishing in the Bay has been in the shallows, and from the rocks, particulrly on the seaward side of Russell peninsula. Some good fish have also fallen to charter boats fishing the light foul areas in 50M out from Motukeikei Island, with golden snapper and some early terakihi providing variety to the catch.

Although the odd marlin hook up and sighting are providing some blue water hope along the coast, most of the catching is occurring from the few boats still fishing the Three Kings. The Middlesex and King Banks are providing action around the baitfish schools, especially the Norwest end of the King Bank, but even here results are spasmodic. 

Most of the broadbill action is also occirring 'up top', though our own excursions have provided some good hookups (but no catches) on the Garden Patch off Cape Kairkari.

As always, drop me an email at geoff@majortom.co.nz if you have any queries, but be patient for a reply, as we are away on another swordie expedition for the next fortnight

Geoffs' Fishing Report 15/4/04

Good water and marlin are both hard to find along the Northland Coast. Best marlin results continue to come to those who have the patience to fish live baits close in around the bait schools off the Nine Pin, Takau Bay, the Cavallis, Stephensons Island and Wekaroa.

Most of the fish are still feeding deep, and the downrigger is proving to be useful. Some blue water has moved in off Cape Brett and the Nine Pin Trenches, and is providing some erratic yellowfin action, but many boats are finding kingfish the best option at the moment. 

All the major reefs from Waiwiri through to Cape Karikari seem to be holding good schools of kahawai, and these in turn are holding some very good kingfish, of up to 25kg. Kahawai, and big blues are working best on these big fish, though boats working the large school at Waiwiri have had good results on jack mackerel as well. Don't be afraid to use heavier leaders, perhaps up to 200lb, as marlin are also being regularly seen at these spots.

Snapper are a bit hard to find, with best results seeming to come from the heads of the inlets, such as Nobbies Point, upstream from
Russell, though it's a bit strannge to leave Russel wharf and turn left!!. Some calm days may present the chance to chase snapper on a deep drift, or possibly at anchor out at 70M to 80M, as the next best option. 

If fishing in the Bay, keep your poppers handy. A school of good sized kingis has been working the pilchards out from Mita's Foul, and Hamish Faire on Baska Voda has been giving his clients some exciting options when fishing this area.

As always , drop me an email at geoff@majortom.co.nz if you have any questions, and I will respond as time back in Russell allows but Major Tom II will be spending most of the next month or so working out of Whangaroa, and away from the computer, so please be patient if your fishing queries are not answered quickly.

Geoffs' Fishing Report 2/3/04

Diabolical, unsettled weather, and a raft of strong west/south west winds, have caused a dramatic slump in what started out as a terrific
season. The 'fit hit the shan' in the middle of the Whangaroa One base, where despite the weather about 11 marlin were captured in the first two days. 

Over the last three days, the 60 boats fishing the tournament were unable to catch a single marlin!! Things have picked up a little since
then, with the best area off the Bay being the Nine Pin Trench, which has also been producing good numbers of yellowfin. Water temps remain low, and even the 1000M line is showing up at just a litttle over 20C. With easterlies likely to set in over the next week, we are all hoping for some better water, and a dramatic improvement in marlin numbers.

While the coast has been slow, larger boats fishing the Three Kings as weather permits have had some truly amazing days on the King and Middlesex Banks. Strong winds have meant some uncomfortable days, and kept the area off limits for most smaller vessels, but it is reassuring to know that good stocks are present in our waters , and we can only hope the fish move in to more accessible waters.

Major Tom's travels have kept us away from the Bay for the last three weeks, but we have had some great kingfish action off Whangaroa, and some good snapper results at Cape Karikari. Speaking to local skippers on our return it seems that the cooler waters have kept the snapper off the bite locally and the snapper fleet is looking forward to a similar temperature improvemnt as the game boats.

As always , drop me an email at geoff@majortom.co.nz if you have any questions, and I will respond as time back in Russell allows.

Geoffs' Fishing Report 7/2/04

The water may not be the bluest of blues, but a steady catch of striped marlin has kept anglers on their toes over the last fortnight.

Best areas have been around Donaghy's and Queens Buoy reefs at about 200 to 240 meters, though the hookup we had yesterday at 135M indicates action will improve around the inshore bait schools. A black marlin was caught off the Cavalli Islands this week, but as yet no blues have shown. 

A few small Yellowfin, a flurry of Mahimahi last weekend, and the occasional Spearfish have added to the catch mix.
Plenty of skipjack, and a few albacore have helped produce light tackle action on the quieter days.

The main snapper run has finished, though many of the fish are still holding roe. We had good results last Sunday fishing around Capstan reef with straylines, with the western end of Roberton, and the Centre Foul producing on ledger rigs.

Kingfish are still giving regular if somewhat erratic returns at 71M Reef, with schools of smaller fish around Bird Rock and the Hansens Reef off Rocky Point. Keep your eyes peeled, and the poppers ready when cruising inside the Bay. A couple of schools of big Kingis have been working the pilchards and mackerel inside the Islands, and have provided some spectacular but short lived results for those lucky enough to stumble over a work up.

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

Geoffs' Fishing Report 15/1/04

Marlin action has certainly 'hotted up' over the last few days. Sunday saw the landing of a 156Kg stripey from the trailer boat Waikikamukau to set a new Pin for the Bay of Islands Club. This fish was taken in 200M of water off Cape Brett, and proved the value of fishing 'skippie' lures from good gear. This big fish took a small tuna lure on 200lb leader, but was fished from a 24kg game outfit. Although on a short leader the team on board were able to successfully trace the fish, and boat it for weighing at the Russell weigh-station.

A great days fishing yesterday, with just 5 boats managing to catch 4 marlin, and sharing another 10 or so shots, and some consistently calm seas has seen a flurry of enthusiasm to 'get out and have a go'. The hot spot has been out at the 500M line behind the Nine Pin Trenches, but with more boats out from now on, and a consistent South East flow of warm blue water the action areas should spread, and hopefully move closer to shore.

Our catch yesterday was on a large live skipjack, but we also had 5 shots on lures, with dark colours ignored, and all the fish striking
either green or fruit salad patterns.

Yellowfin have also shown up , and although not plentiful, have added some variety to the catch expectation. Best yellowfin to date has
weighed in at a massive 74kg, though most of the fish have been around 15kg. 

Skippies have started to show in greater numbers, especially around the blue/green water interface, with albacore up to 10kg, and an
occasional spearfish also adding to the mix.

Kingfish remain consistent, though a bit fussy, around Bird Rock, 71 Meter Reef and Rocky Point, with the snapper action having spread from Whale Rock, to provide some good action at Centre Foul and the Black Rocks.

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

Major Tom Charters
Geoff Stone P O Box 163 ~ Russell ~ Bay of Islands ~ New Zealand
Phone 027-437-7844 ~ Home Phone/Fax 09 403 8553 ~ E-mail....geoff@majortom.co.nz

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