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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    2006-08 Reports  2005 Reports     2004 Reports    2003 Reports   2002 Reports   2001 Reports

Geoffs' Fishing Report 9/12/10

With beautiful blue water at 19C, the first marlin of the season could be caught at any time. Graeme Miller, fishing on the Susan landed a mahimahi over 5kg last Sunday, out from Whangaroa.

We had Major Tom II out wide on the same day off Cape Brett, landing skippies and albacore and seeing plenty of sunfish and a large hammerhead. There is a constant air of expectation while fishing, and I'm sure that the only reason we have not seen a yellowfin or marlin landed is a lack of boats and time on the water. -- Roll on La Nina-  (but spare a thought for the "cockies".

Most of the fishing action remains based on schooling snapper. The best of the action has been from the bottom end of Mita's Foul, out to and along the 50M contour, up to the Nine Pin.

After some rather ho hum results for the last month the kingfish action has improved. The biggest fish are still to be had at 71M Reef but other rocks deeper than 60M also seem to be holding fish, though there have been very few reports of kingies inside the bay.

 As always, drop me an email to geoff@majortom.co.nz if you have any queries and keep your eyes on the Fishing.net.nz Game Fishing Forum where I will try and update any significant early catches as they happen

Geoffs' Fishing Report 15/11/10

A lengthy and continuing spell of calm weather has seen plenty of fishing activity in the Bay over the last two weeks.

Water temps have risen a little , and plenty of big snapper are congregating for the spawning season, with huge schools of pilchards, anchovies and jack mackerel in attendance, ready for the easy feed.

Catching is still a bit sporadic, but plenty of reports of 20lb plus fish are coming to hand, with most of the results from the triangle bounded by Tapeka point, The Black Rocks, and Mita's Foul. My own preferred fishing time is the outgoing tide, but stiff afternoon seas breezes have dictated the calm early morning period when on the drift.

Anchoring on the upcurrent edge of one of the many light foul areas is productive once the wind rises, but straylines need to be baited with whole , or half jack mackerel, as plenty of mao mao are in attendance to destroy frozen pilchards. If using ledger rigs, try turning the tables on the mao mao and cubing a couple of fillets for bait. Big snapper love them, and it will certainly extend the bait supply. As always, drop a live bait close to the bottom when on anchoer., as the big bait schools have also attracted John Dory and kingfish into the action zone.

The best kingfishing has been at 71M Reef, with good fish up to 20kg falling prey to both live baits and jigs, but many fish are being lost in the rocks. Try using break away sinkers and short traces to reduce the chances of unneccesary mortality of these escapees. If using light tackle , back off the drag as soon as the fish hooks up, and shift the boat to make more angle on the fish. With reduced pressure the kingfish will reduce the angle of it's dive and give more chance of avoiding the reef structures. Steve Butler reports that Hansens Reef is holding fish, but is fishing erratically.

Hapuka remain hit and miss. and may take some finding, but make sure you tow some small lures while on the prowl, as some good schools of skippies are operating around the 200M contour.

A trip out wide last Saturday was very relaxing  - too relaxing!!!. The water was murky out to around 500M, and although it became a pretty blue from there, we couldn't detect much life in it. Water Temp rose above 17C at about 600M, but only lifted above 18C in the heat of the afternoon sun.

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

Geoffs' Fishing Report 11/10/10

With the waters of the Bay still languishing below 15C, fishing action has been muted. Plenty of small snapper are pestering the baits but very few congregations of spawners have come into evidence yet. Local deer culler Terry Storey was having a solo fish out by the Nine Pin, and with the action slow had three rigs on the go, one with a live bait, one with a strayline pilchard, and one with a Lucanos jig.  ...

He noticed  a school come onto the sounder, all three rigs hooked up good sized snapper, but once they were landed the school could not be found again. Most of our catches are still on ledger rigs when out in deeper water, although Hamish Faire on his new boat Legend has had a couple of good straylining sessions on the edge of the shallows at Cook's Cove on Roberton Island.

Roe development is very mixed, in both males and females showing everything from immature to mature roe, which tends to suggest the fish have started moving into the Bay from a variety of habitats, and this is backed up by variations in colour. With another cold south to southwest system due after the weekend, it is probable that the best of the action will not start until November.

 An interesting move has been the introduction of a Rock Hoppers competition . The inaugural contest was organised by Bay of Islands Swordfish Club bar manager Jeff Hamer , with support from local businesses which allowed some great prizes and free entry for the 100 or so entrants. All locations had to be accessed by foot, with boat access not allowed.

The best fish were caught  on the northern side of Russell Peninsula in the dead of night and weighed just under 20lb, but not all the prizes were won by the night owls with the mystery weight snapper won by Sean Prisloo with a fish of 3.48kg The most notable snapper of the last couple of weeks was weighed by Brian Scedule at Doves Bay and tipped the Club scales at 13.7kg :- a genuine 30lber.

 Kingfish have been steady with various boats reporting catches right through from 71 Meter Reef  to Hansens ( Rocky Point), but the best news is that  hapuka seem to have returned in good numbers to the rocks out at 200M after going AWOL during the breeding period.. As we move into  November these fish will move into shallower waters to restock on food  before heading back out in December. Hapuka pups will also settle from their pelagic phase over the next couple of months and usually provide an occasional but interesting by catch on snapper trips in the lead up to Xmas.

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

Geoffs' Fishing Report 1/9/10

Continuing unsettled weather is providing only narrow windows of opportunity to fish in comfort around the bay and offshore.

As usual when water temps fall below 15C, the larger snapper have become lethargic while vast schools of pirahna-sized fish annihilate the bait supply. To overcome the worst of this problem, try fishing a whole or half fresh jack mackerel on straylines. If fishing ledger rigs, try chunks of fresh maomao or trevally, and if relying on the bait shop try to find extra large squid as the thicker chunks will last longer.

We are also having some good catches of john dory so a small live bait fished close to the bottom may provide a good feed even if most of the snapper need to be returned to the water.
Kingfish activity has slowed a little as winter drags on. Best fishing has been from the Nine Pin up to Rocky Point.

The fishing out wide began winter with some promise, with good catches of hapuka around Main Rock, but fishing has been very hard over the last few weeks with some suspicion that the most prominent marks have received close attention from commercial longliners. Big terakihi are hanging on the deep water reefs, however, and dropping a string of small hooks should provide a feed, even if the "big fellas" remain elusive.

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

Geoffs' Fishing Report 10/5/10

There have been some notable catches over the last 2 weeks, with Hook n Bull boating a 174.8kg striped marlin (on 3kg line!!!!), Prime Time weighing in a 204kg stripey at Whangaroa, and 72 year old Jerry Garrett adding to his broadbill total with a huge 266kg fish caught on Major Tom II after a 7hour and 20 minute battle. General game fishing activity has slowed down, however, with waters starting to cool off.

As the water cools, part of our attention turns to hapuka. Our only recent trip produced fish for all our anglers, the largest being over 40kg. The fish are quite heavily roed up as they begin their aggregation for the spawning season. This makes fishing a bit hit and miss :- an all or nothing situation depending on whether you find the school or not.

Kingies remain the highlight, as they have for the whole year to date. The fish are not huge, mainly 8 to 12 kg, but there are plenty around, and we expect an early winter influx of larger fish from the north as we move into June for the traditional light tackle tournaments.

Some bigger snapper are moving back in to the shallows, but the best results are coming from the harder to fish deep reefs out at 70 and 80M, often as a by catch on live baits while kingie fishing. These waters are also producing some large john dory, but there is little sign of terakihi at the moment.

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

Geoffs' Fishing Report 28/3/10

Game fishing along the Northland Coast remains steady, but unspectacular. Catches at the Bay of Islands Club are well down on last year, though much of the decrease is because of a very slow start. Fishing over the last 2 weeks has improved, with practically all of the action inside the 200M contour, with many of the fish being taken on live kahawai and jack mackerel towed deep on a slow drift. 

Skipjack have been hard to find and the marlin seem to be feeding on deeper bait schools, and only occasionally chasing sauree and the occasional skippy on the surface. The result has been plenty of marlin seen, as they travel and rid themselves of parasites close to the surface, plenty of very tentative (inquisitive) strikes, but few  solid hook ups on the lures. Most of the bait schools are down at 30 to 60M, and seem to be primarily large jack mackerel which have featured prominently in the stomach contents of most of the fish that have been cut up for the smoker. Large sqid seem to be the other major food source this year.

Kingfish continue to be the standout of the season. All the regular haunts are holding good stocks of kingies, mostly from 8 to 12kg, though a number of larger fish have been taken at Piercy Island. Rocky Point and Whale Rock might be worth avoiding for a while as bronze whalers have taken up residence and seem reluctant to let the anglers take kingfish from the water!!!

Some good snapper have been taken close to shore around Lion Rock, and pannies seem to be plentiful at Hansens Reef and around Cape Brett, but the snapper action inside the Bay is mainly limited to catching throwbacks.

Kahawai have been providing plenty of action throughout, especially for the fly fishermen, with most of the fish in the 2kg to 3kg range.

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

Geoffs' Fishing Report 2/2/10

A couple of prolonged easterlies, with strong winds and some welcome rain have played havoc with fishing opportunities over the last week or so, but have made caused a dramatic improvement in water temps.

Our one chance to venture out wide last Sunday showed the good water right in to 80M, with plenty of skippies, lot's of manta rays, and yes:- the marlin were there. We only had the one hook up for the day, and managed to pull the hooks just 20M from the transom but the sense of expectation was always present with water temps up to 22C in places, and the water varying in shades of blue instead of green. Our action came at the 140M line, with other boats reporting fish in as close as 100M. Harlequin, fishing out at the outside trench, caught the first blue marlin for the Bay of Islands Swordfish club to set the pin at 166Kg.

The latest crop are a little smaller on average, and not as fat as most of the early fish.

With warm water moving right in to the bay the snapper spawn should finally get under way. It has been strange to catch big males with hard roe at the end of January, and few if any of the 'old hands' can remember a season this late. Best fishing locations have been the bottom end of Mita's Foul, and the 50M line south of the Nine Pin. Some days have given good catches under the birds, but the action has been erratic.

Bird Rock has been holding plenty of kingis but they are quite small. Better fish will be available a short distance away at 71 Meter reef, but the fish have been holding deep. Once the westerlies return, Rocky Point will be worth revisiting.

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

Geoffs' Fishing Report 20/1/10

For the first time this season, my temperature guage has risen above 20c but it took a trip out to the 1000M line east of Cape Brett, and a hot sunny afternoon to do it!!!!!  Our reward was a couple of mahimahi, half a dozen 5kg albacore, and a permanent sense of expectation that something spectacular could happen.

The reality is that the best of the marlin fishing is in closer. As I like to remind myself (and others ), the fish come down here to feed, not sunbathe, and most of the catches over the last few days have been around Donaghys Reef and the Inside Trench in the vicinity of the 200M contour, or at the same depth east of Cape Brett (Queen's Buoy). Plenty of small albacore have been feeding in the area since Xmas. Most of the stripeys caught so far have been well over 100kg, the larger fish probably better suited to the cooler waters, with the main influx likely to arrive as the inshore waters increase in temperature over the next two or three weeks.

Yellowfin presented plenty of early season expectations, with a few very large fish taken around New Year, but the catches have petered out over the last couple of weeks. News of leased ex American Super Seiners scooping massive breeding schools out from Papua New Guinea, makes us realise how dependant our own fishery is on the wise international management of pelagic fish.

The fishing in closer has been more reliable. Plenty of kingish on the outside reefs though very few fish above 12kg are in the mix.

Snapper fishing has improved over the last week, with early morning water temps finally approaching the critical 18C. All the fish are still heavily roed, at a time in normal years that most of the spawning would be over. The probability is that the best of the snapper fishing is yet to come, but better late than never. Centre Foul has gone dead, and the best area over the last few days has been between Mita's Foul and Whale Rock ( more towards Mita's), and the  50M line south from the Nine Pin. The grounds on the western side of the Bay are also producing some good terakihi catches, as we found while seeking calmer waters during one charter when a strong nor'wester was blowing.

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

Geoffs' Fishing Report 23/12/09

The big snapper schools are still on the move. The fish that had been producing good results at Centre Foul and Tapeka moved to the Nine Pin area last week, but the best of the fishing now seems to be around Whale Rock. Not a lot of large fish yet, with 5kg being top fish on most trips. With the huge influx of boats expected for the fine weather over Xmas it is more important than ever that anglers " limit their catch instead of catching their limit."

 Best of the kingfishing still seems to be up at Rocky Point, with Hansens Reef performing on a daily basis for Steve Butler on Earl Grey, though the biggest fish are little more than 12kg. There will certainly be bigger fish at Cape Brett, but some patience may be needed. It is important when fishing around the Hole in the Rock or along the edge of the Dog to fish the upcurrent side. Most boats are tempted to fish the calm side, but if that's not the upcurrent side you might as well go somewhere else.

Our own escapade this weekend was a trip out wide.  We made it as far as the 600M line north of the Nine Pin Trench. Water was good and temperature was just about 19C. Plenty of mutton ducks and a few gannets at the 500M mark, but no results in that area. In closer,  along ther 300M contour north west of the outside trench we stumbled across a big school of skippies, and furthr in still, where the water had gone almost green we picked up on a small school of "coke bottle" albacore..

If you do hook an albacore , leave it in the water until you can hook up a second fish.The school will usually follow their 'mate'. The same trick works for mahimahi and kingfish, and to a certain degree with larger pelagics, but is a precarious tactic with soft mouthed skippies.

With some light to medium easterlies due at the tail end of an anticyclone moving in for Xmas, the fishing out wide should improve rapidly and the first marlin of the season could be close at hand.

Bay of Islands . Stop Press . Major Tom II

 The Bay of Islands charter fleet has booked up it's first marlin of the season. Richard Van Dijk fishing solo on his charter boat Baska Voda had his first shot at 13.20 at the 200M line East of the Cape. 20 minutes later he hooked into a stripey and after a further 20 minutes he tagged and released an 80kg fish. Well done Richard . Lets hope it signals a great season for us all.

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

Geoffs' Fishing Report 2/12/09

The snapper have finally fired, with some great catches from all areas of the Bay. Average size seems to be a little down on last year, with plenty of fish up to 10lb, but very few above 20lb.

 Best areas over the last week have been Centre Foul ( the area to the east of Battleship Rock), the top end of Mita's Foul, and along the 50M line from Whale to the Nine Pin, where some good fish, and a few good kingis , have been feeding under the birds.

Rocky Point continues to give consistent results on kingis, but the largest fish are barely above 12kg. The strong westerly wind pattern is due to cease at the end of the week, and after the promised easterlies, there should be some big kingis available at 71M Reef. In fact the fish are there now, but present an extremely unpleasant trip in strong westerlies. Similarly, Bird Rock will become a better option with a change to easterlies.

Water temps out wide are still in the 17C range (a little colder closer in), and few reports of pelagics within fishing range. This situation will also change with the easterlies, and will hopfully put us on course for the first marlin around Xmas.

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


Geoffs' Fishing Report 19/11/09

Fishing has improved a little over the last couple of weeks, with water temps up to around 16.5C by mid-day. Best of the snapper results are from the inside of Mita's Foul up to the 30M contour west of Roberton Island. The bite is not prolific but fish of around 15lb are rewarding the patient angler.

The deeper reef areas up to 45M are holding large numbers of leatherjackets, which can prove a tasty treat if using small hooks, but are a real pain when fishing for snapper. You won't feel the bites, but the bait will be quickly nibbled off.

If you get no bites, but lose bait, don't waste your time or bait. Pull the anchor and shift. For the leather jackets you do get, try breaking the neck and pulling the skin off. What's left looks like a small flounder and is delicious pan fried in a butter/oil mixture with a little garlic.

 The water out wide has warmed, but little sign yet of any major pelagics. Hapuka are holding on most reef and rubble areas from 120M out, but so are the school sharks and spiny dogs.

Best kingie results have been from Rocky Point, though to be fair, the continuing strong westerlies can make fishing anywhere else unpleasant and hard work. Our best fish were around 12kg, though Steve Butler reports a few over 15kg.. Barroacoutta are also in the mix, so make sure you catch plenty of baits or buy a few extra jigs. The toothy critters will depart back to deeper water as the water gets warmer.

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

Geoffs' Fishing Report 25/10/09

The snapper have made their way in to the traditional aggregaration area around Mita's Foul, but the water is still cold, and fishing has been slow. Morning water temps have been as low as 13.5C,  and  the afternoon surface temperature has been barley above 15C.

Water temperatures are unlikely to rise significantly until the persisrent westerlies ease. Perhaps the only significant bonus from the cold water is the continued presence of terakihi, Best of the fishing has been on the rock/mud interface  out from Urupukapuka Island. Recent trips by Major Tom II in this area have produced plenty of terakihi and also some good snapper bycatch, as well as hapuka pups and kingfish.

 Best of the kingfishing has been at Rocky Point, where Steve Butler on Earl Gray ie reporting steady catches of fish up to 15kg.

There has been very little fishing activity out wide, with afternoon and evening breezes creating unpleasant conditions away from the lee cover of the coast. The one report I have received is from Adam Davey, co-owner of commercial vessel Medea who went for a recreational hapuka fish in the Main Rocjk area. Although plenty of fish were showing on the sounders, the bite was poor.

Forecasters are predicting good weather for the Labour Weekend holiday, and we can only hope that the prevailing wind turns east to drive some warmer water on to the coast.

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


Geoffs' Fishing Report 22/9/09

The big bait schools that were providing the action in the Bay a couple of weeks ago seem to have moved back out to deep water and taken most of the larger snapper with them.

Fishing inside the islands has produced plenty of small fish, but not many above pan size. The larger fish are starting to roe up, so it looks as though we will have the spawning schools back in  come mid October.

With fishing inside the islands a bit slow, and with better weather, many boats have been focussing on the 30 to 40M line outside the islands, from Hope Reef across to Oke Bay. These grounds are holding plenty of good sized terakihi, as well as a few good snapper. I prefer to fish the rock fringe along this line, and a live bait will often produce a good kingfish as a bonus.This area also provides very good cover when winds are any where between south and east.

Live baits have been difficult, but there are plenty of good kingies at Rocky Point.

With some beutiful 10 knot days there has been plenty of chance to fish out wide for hapuka. Compared to the last couple of years catches have been very good. Best of the fishing seems to be around the foul areas out at 200M. By catch has included a few school sharks and gemfish, but very few barracoutta which normally move in closer to shore at this time of year. Thankfully they have been a relative no show, even in close, which should save a bit of tackle as we move into the snapper schooling run.

We have trolled a few albacore lures, but only out as far as the 240M line while travelling between hapuka grounds. The coming couple of months should see some action from the smaller tunas for those looking at an early trip out wide.

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

Geoffs' Fishing Report 4/9/09

Huge schools of anchovies have moved into the area between Whale Rock and Mita's Foul. As well as providing a lot of seabird activity, many of the snapper along the shallows of the Russell Peninsula that have provided us with some great winter fishing, seem to have moved out for the anchovy feast.

 Water temps seem to be a little higher than normal at this time of year, and the snapper have started to show roe early, although at just around 15C temps are not high enough to promote more than sporadic feeding, and some patience will be required as catching is still a bit "hit and miss".

Jack mackerel baits have been relatively easy to find between Tapeka Point and Roberton Island. Fished live they are also providing plenty of kingfish activity around the anchovies. Traditional kingie spots at the reefs off Rocky Point, and around Cape Brett are also fishing well, with very very few problems from barracoutta, which are usually a plague at this time of year.

Hapuka results have been encouraging around Main Rock, after two very quiet seasons. If  fishing out wide, we are also coming to the time of year when towing some small lures will be productive for albacore.

Major Tom II has only done a couple of day time broadbill trips since June, with erratic weather providing few windows of opportunity.

We have managed four positive hook ups (the fish have jumped), but three were taken by sharks, and one pulled the hooks. This is the first time we have had problems with shark attacks on hooked broadbill on the east coast though it has always been a problem around the Three Kings.

As a result we shifted area for our last attempt, a one day excursion to the Nine Pin trench. Although we had four baits taken, only one was a broadbill type bite, and this remains unconfirmed as the fish pulled the hook before reacing the surface.

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

Geoffs' Fishing Report 15/6/09

Fishing activity in the Bay has been firmly focussed on kingfish for the last couple of weeks, especially with the 40th International Yellowtail Tournament being run out of Russell over the last 6 days.

30 boats were entered this year. In four days of fishing there were well over 100 kingies weighed in , and many more taggged and/or released. Fish were caught in all areas from Home Point up to the Cavallis. The largest fish this year was just under 24kg, but most fish taken were 11 to 14kg  - not huge - but a great challenge on 6kg line.

 The most disturbing factor was an influx of barracoutta on the last day at Step Island up at the Cavallis. We have had little problem with barracoutta over the last couple of years, with numbers seeming to drop as the kahawai population recovers. We can only hope that the mass appearance at Step was an aberration, and not a sign of a return to the plague years of the 1990s.

Snapper fishing has been steady but nothing great. We have had one snapper of 6kg in the last week or so, but most of the fish are small, though we are generally catching enough fish over 32cm to put together a feed. Terakihi have come early to the rock fringe area around Hope Reef, though few have shown up yet at the usual haunts around Onslow Rock. Some good trevally have filled out the bag, and plenty of kahawai are still hunting in the shallows.

 Hapuka have been very mixed.. There seem to be a few small schools on the foul area in 150M off Whangamumu, but they are hard to find. The fish are well roed up, and in tight schools. They should be present in larger numbers at this stage of the cycle. Main Rock has been drawing blanks, with gemfish and spikey dogs the prevelent species.

 After a late season, the marlin seem to have gone north, but we can hopefully get a fine spell later this week to try for a broadbill.

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

Geoffs' Fishing Report 25/5/09

Lots and lots of kingis!, which is great news with the International Yellowtail Tournament due to start in Russell on 7th June.

All the reef areas from Wiwiri through to Rocky Point are holding good numbers of kingfish. Although not huge, there are plenty of fish around 10kg, for those who wish to keep an occasional fish. Our only difficulty has been bait which has been very patchy, although perseverance is usually rewarded close in on Moturoa Island.

Some good snapper sessions have been possible on the 60M shelf out from the Nine Pin, though the fish are only around  30 to 35cm. We have also had a good session on terakihi, fishing the rock fringe around Hope Reef, with some reasonable size Golden Snapper as well.  Golden snapper can be a bit tricky to fillet, as the pin bones don't follow the lateral line, but for those with a smokehouse, they are simple to split and smoke, and taste great.

 The last couple of weeks have presented very few options out wide, though local boats have caught a couple of marlin North of Whangaroa.  Hapuka have been difficult to find.

 If you need more info, contact me at geoff@majortom.co.nz.co.nz