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Major Tom Charters

Geoff Stone.
P O Box 163 ~ Russell ~ Bay of Islands ~ New Zealand
Phone 0274 377 844 ~ Fax 403 7790 ~ Home Phone 09 403 8553 E-mail....geoff@majortom.co.nz
Big Game ~ Sportfishing Safaris ~ Saltwater Light Tackle ~ Saltwater F

Latest Reports      2005 Reports       2004 Reports        2003 Reports        2002 Reports        2001 Reports


Geoffs' Fishing Report 10/3/08

After a long month of rather lean results, the marlin fishery is showing signs of picking up along Northland's east coast.

Practically all the boats fishing The Bay of Islands Marlin Skins Classic reported shots yesterday, and with a fine spell of weather forecast for the next week there should be plenty of fishing action.

"Hot " areas this year seem to be The Inside Trench,  the 300M line behind Main Rock, and the 200M line from Queen's Buoy to Whangamumu.

Mahimahi have been present in good numbers this year, and are quite large compared to normal years, with the Pin fish currently at 14.9Kg. Major Tom had a quadruple strike of mahimahi while fishing the Clubs NZ Tournament last Friday, and all the fish were over 10kg, with the largest weighing in at 13.9Kg. Most of the yellowfin caught this year have been around 30kg.

We have had some great days on kingies, with all the regular reefs holding plenty of fish, but bronze whalers are proving a real menace at Rocky Point. The problem of kingies being sharked seems much worse than last year.

We have tried Rocky Point twice in the last month, and despite almost immediate co-operation from the kingfish, the bronzies have prevented us from bringing a fish to the boat. The only solution is to pull anchor and try somewhere else, but the problem seems to be spreading with reports of similar problems at The Nine Pin and Whale Rock on occasions.

Our experience with the bronzies is backed up by reports from divers at Cape Karikari and the Poor Knights reporting large bronzie populations.

 Just why the bronzie population should have become larger and aggressive is unclear. Perhaps there is less mortality because of a decrease of commercial netting within our harbours, perhaps it's because there are less large makos as a result of 'finning' by longliners and the bronzies have expanded to fill the niche, or perhaps it's just a natural fluctuation. Whatever the reason, there seems little point in persisting with kingie fishing around any reef where the only result of hooking a kingie is to provide a quick snack for a shark!!

 The snapper spawning schools are well and truly dispersed, and while some good snapper and the occasional kingie are being gathered under the birds, the best snapper action is coming from the 50M to 60M area around the Nine Pin and Whale Rock. Kahawai and some good sized trevally are a regular bycatch. If the weather does turn bad, try fishing the shallows in the tidal zone. The mullet and flounder netters are reporting some good snapper as a bycatch of their activity.

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

Geoffs' Fishing Report 31/1/08

Blue water fishing , has really heated up off the bay in the last week. Water temps have risen to more than 22C, with blue water right in to the 120M line.

Stripeys are not prolific, but are frequent enough to sustain interest, and some good yellowfin of around 40kg have also been taken.

The hot news, however, are the blues. After a number of boats losing fish over the weekend, a couple of beauties graced  the wharf on Tuesday,

Saltshaker weighed in a huge 310kg fish in Paihia, only to be followed in Russell by a monster of 391.2kg for Swedish angler Johan Rodin fishing on Major Tom II. Johan's fish took a large purple and black pusher, crafted by Bonze Lures, running well back on the shotgun. The fish took 2.5 hours to bring to the boat, then needed assistance from the crew of other boats to help lift it on board. Johan is getting the fish mounted, and shipped back to Sweden, but is likely to need an extra room in his house to fit the display.

Other fishing options have also been good. A large school of medium sized kingis has made it's home around Bird Rock, with some larger fish at 71 Meter Reef, especially if fished deep. With the blue water close in, it is wise to use well spooled 24kg outfits, and 200lb trace if fishing live baits for kingis in this area, as an accidental marlin is always a possibility.

The main snapper schools seem to have dispersed in close, with a lot less bird activity than earlier in the month. Best snapper results seem to have come from around the Nine Pin, from deeper features up to 60M.

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


Geoffs' Fishing Report 27/9/07

With water temperature only just starting to rise above 15C , snapper fishing remains patchy in the Bay. The best results seem to have come from areas close in to the rocks from Rawhiti, round to and past Deep Water Cove to Pig Gully. Berley will help draw the fish out from the kelp beds, but expect a few break offs as the better fish will return to cover once hooked.

The middle areas up to 50M are producing plenty of small fish, though most are undersize. Perserverance will bring rewards, especially around the Nine Pin where porae and john dory will give a welcome bonus as well as terakihi on the reef fringes.

As with last year, barracoutta seem less of a problem than we have come to expect. Perhaps the increase in kahawai and trevally stocks has increased competition. The 'Gulp" anglers seem to be catching some good kahawai in the white water, and Russell locals have been having a ball with some good trevally off the wharf early in the morning. Our locals have also been catching respectable snapper straylining from Mill Island, just off the Southern end of the Russell foreshore, in 4 or 5 meters of water.

Kingis are also patchy, with the best options being Cape Brett and 71 Meter Reef. The fish are deep, so the best option is small livies just off the bottom, or heavier jigs fishing just the bottom third.

Hapuka fishing has been very hit and miss all winter. The regular haunts such as Main Rock, Queens Buoy and the inside Trench have been very poor, though a few bluenose and plenty of gemfish has seen most clients return with a good feed, and some big 'gemmies' for the smoker.

Some good hapuka catches have been reported, but these have mainly come from lesser know rubble areas with no pinnacles to show on less powerful sounders. These results certainly seem to reflect both a high degree of terretorialism from the fish and excessive catches by anglers on the more popular rocks. Perhaps it's time to reflect on whether 5 hapuka is too generous as a daily catch limit. Most charter boats in the Bay will limit their clients to 2 fish per angler.

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

Geoffs' Fishing Report 25/5/07

May has provided a real bonus to game fishos in the Bay of Islands with a late patch of marlin moving into the area from Cape Brett to the Poor Knights. Usual catches at this time of year are very fat and in good condition after feeding in coastal waters over late summer before moving north on the spawning run.

This latest patch of fish are long and skinny, with plenty of ectoparasites and  indicates they are recent arrivals, likely to remain for a couple of weeks yet, feeding up on the large schools of squid that have congregated off the coast.

These large squid schools have also attracted good numbers of broadbill to the coastal zone. With good weather over the last couple of weeks many local boats have been out trying their luck, mostly trolling baited lures at night. There have been plenty of 'shots' but little catching until Te Ariki Nui landed a small fish on the Garden patch on their way through to the Kings.

Brian Batson landed a 94kg broadbill hooked fishing the deep daytime drop method on Major Tom II at the 505 on Tuesday afternoon, and Pacific Monarch boated a 167kg fish at the Nine Pin Trench on Friday night.

With other action reported at the Cavalli Canyons and the Knights Rise, we have plenty of evidence that after 3 lean years the broadbill have returned to the Northland Coast. The plentiful food supply suggests plenty of broadbill activity still to come, as they are unlikely to make their way north for spawning until late September.

Kingis are showing up in good numbers which will please all the anglers booked to fish the annual light tackle tournament in Russell in June, with the best action around 71M Reef. There are also prodigious numbers of kingis at Rocky Point, but a school of bronze whalers is also stalking them, making catching easy but landing difficult. Most charter boats are leaving the area alone, unwilling to provide kingis as easy targets to the seemingly ravenous bronzies.

Snapper fishing is patchy. The good catches around the oyster farms have eased off, though the shallows around Parakura Bay and Rawhiti are still producing.

Plenty of small and barely legal snapper are being caught inside the Islands, but the best catches are likely to come from straylining close to the rocks in exposed areas outside the Islands.

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

Geoffs' Fishing Report 18/3/07

The bumper season for the Bay of Islands and Tutukaka Clubs continues, despite some cold and grotty weather over the last week.

The better water has moved out beyond the 200M line, but with boats ranging wider, a good sprinkling of blues has been caught. Two fish over 220kg were landed during the Baileys tournament last week, and the weekend saw the top honours for The Russell Ab-Fab ladies Tournament being closely contested by a 171.4kg fish on Absolute and one of 171.2kg on St Moritz. The closeness of the call on these two clearly shows the wisdom of keeping your catch cool and moist during the time from landing to weigh in!!!

Locals in the Bay are attributing the better season to the schools of saury which are being chased at the surface, bringing the marlin into the surface layer strike zone. The stripeys are also hunting in groups, with pack attacks almost being the norm. In these circumstances some extra action is always possible if a live bait is dropped back, while the lures are being retrieved after a hook up.

The snapper have become a bit elusive of late, with best results coming from ledger rigs fished deep around the foul fringes in 40 to 50M, with an added bonus of trevally, terakihi and golden snapper always likely. Most of the fish are small, barely over 30cm, but the occasional moocher is also there for the taking.

 Finding some relatively easy picking on our hapuka spots has been a relief, with results having been pretty poor over the last year. A quick drop last week resulted in 3 hapuka and a couple of gemmies from just a couple of drops with two lines, so this will hopefully bode well for the coming season.

We have been invaded by a large number of small kingis. These fish are almost entirely under the 75cm limit, though Russell's ex policeman, Colwyn Shortland skippering his aunties on Pukematu managed to find 3 fish of around 15kg while jigging at 71M Reef to take out top kingi prizes during the Ab-Fab Tournament. Bigger fish are likely to improve in numbers once the usual Autumn run starts.

As always drop me an email at geoff@majortom.co.nz and I will reply as charters allow.

Geoffs' Fishing Report 15/12/06

After a false start during the week after Labour weekend, the snapper season has finally hit it's straps in the last few days. The intervening six weeks of patchy results from lethargic fish has been caused by cold water being sucked down the inside of the east coast after persistent and strong south and west winds.

Water temps in the Bay have now risen to 17C and the snapper have warmed up accordingly.

The best aggregation seems to be from Mita's Foul down through to the top end of Whale Rock. With less pilchard and anchovy schools than normal there is only minimal gannet and tern activity and the sounder has become an essential tool. With less pelagic feed, the snapper are also holding down deep, and straylines will need heavier sinkers, and ledger rigs may give better results. Bait seems irrelevant, but whole jack mackerel will restrict the flow of smaller fish.

Out wider the fishing remains difficult. Barracoutta have made kingfish trips difficult, and even when the 'toothed ones' are absent, results have been poor.  Even the schools of rats that plagued us last season seem to have moved on, but hopefully we will see the fishery improve as the water warms up.

Hapuka are also evasive off the Bay, even on the normally reliable reefs at 200M, though the Tutukaka boats seem to have had some good trips south of the Poor Knights.

Water temps at the 200M contour were over 18C yesterday, and yielded some small albacore, and at that temperature the first yellowfin must be close, and the first marlin not far behind.

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


Bay of Islands - Newsflash

"Crayz Dayz", which normally fishes out of the Hokianga, caught a yellowfin tuna yesterday (15/12/06).

 Bill Willich landed the 51.8kg season opener while fishing just inside the 500M line off the Bay of Islands on 37kg tackle.

 They also reported plenty of other signs of life, and water around 20C.

Geoffs' Fishing Report 25/9/06

Best news of the last fortnight from the Bay of Islands, is the presence of roe in many of the snapper landed. While we might expect the occasional male at this early stage, females have figured prominently in the catches. 

With some large schools of pillies and anchovies showing in the triangle of Tapeka , Roberton and the Black Rocks, and with most of even the the larger fish in fresh open water condition, we may be about to have an early season. Water temps have already risen to around 16C, and once they have risen a bit more, the "patchy" fishing should end and results become more consistent.

Kingies are still present in good numbers, though size remains a problem, with most fish just under the 75cm limit, and only few over 10kg.  71 Meter Reef seems to be the most likely possie for a good kingie, though one fish of nearly 20kg was taken at the weekend from the bait schools off Tapeka. If the bait continues to accumulate it should attract and hold some good fish close to home.

Hapuka have been difficult off the Bay all winter. Even the usually reliable reefs around Main Rock have been slow, though with good reports from South of Cape Brett, and North of the Cavallis, our situation may change as the fish get on the move after their spawning season. Live baits dropped deep on 71Meter while kingfishing will often return a good hapuka during the spring fishing months.

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

Geoffs' Fishing Report 13/7/06

Winter chills have slowed the feeding activity of snapper in the Bay, and with water temps at 15C or lower, a bit more patience may be needed.

Best snapper activity is at change of light, close in to the rocks with a good berley trail, though cold nights and mornings may dampen the enthusiasm.

Recent days have seen some good snapper action during the day from Centre Foul through to the broken foul area to the south east of Onslow Rock.  Large scattered schools of small jack mackerel, slimeys and some pilchards have attracted good snapper and an occasional kingie. Try anchoring on the edge of some foul at about 40M and fish ledger rigs with smallish hooks. As well as the odd snapper there is a good chance of some winter conditioned terakihi in this area. Don't be afraid to float a large bait on a strayline, or a small midwater live bait. Feeding activity may be spasmodic, but some big snapper are patrolling the bait schools. Fishing straylines at this time of year is usually a frustration with barracoutta, but the razor gang have not shown up as yet. A recent trip out to 200M provided proof that they are still out in the deep, providing a useful funtion as 'on the spot' hapuka bait.

We found good activity on the hapuka grounds around Main Rock and Queen's Buoy, with the bigger fish carrying large mature roe. Unfortunately the trip also provided regular catches of tope and spiny dogs, which meant lots of catching and winding , for only a medium result of hapuka.

Kingfish continue to be dissapointing. Plenty of action, but few of the fish are over 7 or 8 kilos, and most are barely legal. We have received reports of some good kingfish around Cape Karikari and north of there, but our own to trips to the Cavallis and south to Waiwiri Rock have given only an occasional fish over 12kg.

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

Geoffs' Fishing Report 11/4/06

The marlin season may be headed for an early demise this year. Despite water temps holding up around 20C, Northlands coastal waters have turned a shade of green that is more fit for grazing sheep than catching marlin. Large schools of skippies are still holding in close, so there is still hope, but billfish catches have been low for the last fortnight, with strong westerly winds providing little comfort.

Thankfully there are plenty of kingies hanging around Bird Rock and Rocky Point, with some good fish also being taken from around Whale Rock. While most of the fish barely make the 75cm size limit the traditional Autumn influx of larger stock is due and should provide some great action over the coming months.

Snapper catches remain consistent, especially on some of the lesser fished reef edges around Cape Brett, and from the Nine Pin up to Lion Rock. Small jack mackerel fished live and close to bottom will provide not just the chance of an x.o.s snapper but also the chance to catch john dory as a better table option, and even a few kingies.

Although our hapuka fishing has been limited over the last month, with most effort going to billfish, we have had little trouble filling the catch bags when fishing the foul areas along the 200M line.

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

Geoffs' Fishing Report 3/2/06

If only the fishing was this good all the time!!! The last month has been terrific for fishos in the Bay, with the game fishing season now under way with regular (but not prolific) action, lots of kingis and late rush of good sized snapper which are still holding roe. Water temperature is consistentl around 20C.

For the earliest game fishing trips, the action was off Whagamumu, to the south and east of Cape Brett along the 200M contour. It's a long way to travel on day trips but the hot patch gave up regular shots and enough catches to justify the  burnt diesel.

Most of the early marlin have been small, average size around 75kg, some as small as 50kg, with the current striped marlin pin (heaviest of the season), standing at just over 100kg and caught by Russell based junior angler Max Bradford aboard Jimmy Troup's boat Espresso.

The action has now moved closer to base, with good water in as close as 120M, and some excellent prospects out at the Nine Pin Trenches. Most action this week has been around Main Rock, from 200 to 280M, and catches include a blue for Hamish Faire skippering Ika Nui. Yellowfin have been a regular bi-catch, though nothing of great size. The biggest of our own 'fin have weighed in at little more than 25kg.

 Kingi anglers have had plenty of action, with large schools of 'rats' providing prolific action on jigs around Bird Rock and Hansens Reef, but those seeking larger fish may need a bit of patience with a larger live bait.

Best of the action, while most of us have been out chasing marlin, has been for the snapper anglers fishing inside the Bay. Our own efforts have been limited to a short spell while seeking refuge from "mal de mer" for our anglers, and in just an hour and a half our two fishermen, one an 11 year old 'small fry' caught at least 7 snapper of 12lb and another half dozen over 8lb.  The hot action area was on the broken foul western side of Mita's Foul. Most of our hook ups were right on the bottom, fishing ledger rigs with cut bonito and small live baits. The live baits also accounted for some good sized john dory.

 As always drop me an email at geoff@majortom.co.nz if you have any queries, and I will respond as time permits.


2005 Reports     2004 Reports        2003 Reports        2002 Reports        2001 Reports

Geoff Stone P O Box 163 ~ Russell ~ Bay of Islands ~ New Zealand
Phone 0274 377 844 ~ Fax 09 403 7790 ~ Home Phone 09 403 8553 ~ E-mail....geoff@majortom.co.nz

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