Northland Fishing: Big Game or Small Fry?

Striped and Blue Marlin, Yellowfin Tuna, Yellowtail Kingfish, Snapper, Terakihi and Kahawai...all caught in Northland! - What's your biggest?

Yet again my husband comes home with another fishing story... This time it was a striped Marlin that bit through the line. I am yet to see him bring home anything other than snapper, albeit the largest I have ever seen at 32 and 33lb! Northland has been described as a Mecca for serious game fishing, with yellowtail kingfish, yellow-finned tuna, shark and striped marlin.

Bit of a kiwi past time, most of us grew up standing barefoot on a wharf dangling a line from a plastic reel. Others lucky enough to have a family boat spent many hours out on the water pulling in glorious fish after get the occasional rock fish or eel, but generally snapper is the most commonly caught (and great tasting).

A disheartening experience is when the snapper, a fantastic fighting fish, takes you through some jagged rocks to sever the line, and ‘ping’ it’s gone...As such strong swimmers, it’s a bit of a laugh, when after a long hard struggle you think you’re going to be the hero of the day and this piddly sized fish gets ‘hauled’ over the side of the boat.

Fishing competitions are a real Northland family past time. The legendary Ninety Mile Beach Snapper Classic will celebrate its 30th year in 2013! The 5-day event is open to not only New Zealanders, but a mix of international competitors, and you can win some really big prize money.

Game fishing legend Zane Grey described the Bay of Islands as the “Angler’s Eldorado”, and in 1926 wrote “The New Zealand coast is destined to become the most famous of all fishing waters. It will bring the best anglers from all over the world." True true... probably no game fishing area in the world has yielded more fish than the stretch of water along Northland's coast, and all World and National Records for Striped Marlin, Yellowtail Kingfish and Snapper are held on this coast.

What can you catch and when?

  • Marlin & other billfish: late December until June
  • Yellowfin Tuna: December to March
  • Sharks: November to May
  • Yellowtail Kingfish: all year round

Our New Zealand striped marlins are amongst the largest in the world! Most current and past world records for Striped Marlin were set in New Zealand, with the Bay of Islands boasting many of them. The heaviest striped marlin ever recorded (current NZ and world record) is a whopping 224.1kg.

Where do you catch them?

Karikari Peninsula
Enjoy fine in-shore and game fishing from the beautiful Karikari Peninsula. Fish Doubtless Bay and Rangaunu Harbour on either side of the peninsula and catch snapper, tarakihi, kingfish, kahawai, yellowfin, marlin and many other species.

Whangaroa Harbour
Whangaroa Harbour is without a doubt one of the most productive Marlin Fishing grounds in New Zealand. Whangaroa is world renown for having the largest Striped Marlin in the world. Whangaroa is also a launching point to the Three Kings & Middlesex Bank fishing areas.

Cavalli Islands & Bay of Islands
The Cavalli Islands and the Bay of Islands are renowned for world class game fishing. Russell has a weigh station on the wharf.

Just 15 minutes from the Omapere jetty you can catch striped marlin, yellow fin tuna, kingfish, snapper, bluenose, giant bass and trevally to name a few.

Striped and Blue Marlin, Tuna, Yellowtail Kingfish or Snapper and Terakihi are popular around this area. Tutukaka is the gateway to the Poor Knights Islands marine reserve which offers some of the best sub-tropical diving in the world.

Best way to eat fresh snapper:

  1. Clean and cut into fillets
  2. Dip in egg
  3. Roll in flour
  4. Pan fry using half butter / half oil
  5. Squeeze of lemon, pinch of salt and pepper...delish!
  6. Glass of Northland wine

Just a wee bit famous: NZ has the heaviest striped marlin ever recorded at 224.1kg!

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