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Coromandel is one of New Zealand’s best locations when it comes to fishing and kayaking with prime country offering coastlines on east, west and north facing directions. Having three coastlines plus many sheltered bays, estuaries and harbours means you can always find somewhere to fish.
Located in the north east of the north island of New Zealand Coromandel is part of a peninsula that is forty kilometres at its widest point and runs from Waihi Beach on the east coast to the other side of Kopu in the firth of Thames.
At around eighty five kilometres from Waihi beach to the northern tip the whole peninsula is littered with offshore islands on all sides.
These islands provide food; shelter and terrain for marine life so when the conditions allow are ideal places to explore in a kayak. Offshore islands can also receive much less fishing pressure meaning more abundant fish life.
Not only do the offshore islands around Coromandel peninsula have prime areas to fish but also the mainland that offers plenty excellent country.
Many visiting anglers to the region using boats underestimate these inshore areas in favour of going offshore to search for the prey often passing right over the fish on the way out.
At certain times of the year fish are only found in close around the mainland so it is important when visiting the area to get an idea of what is happening.
Another underestimated situation is the upper harbors and estuaries that can have massive kingfish cruising these areas feeding on the inhabitants.
All of the fish species that spend time in the areas around Coromandel peninsula undertake certain activities during the course of each season cycle in an entire year.
Starting with winter we see many snapper leave the western side of the peninsula making the annual run out of the Hauraki Gulf taking them to places like Great Barrier and Cuvier Islands.
This also extends further down the eastern side of the Coromandel peninsula and out to the many offshore locations found out from the coastline. What this means is that during such times you will find heavy concentrations of snapper around the upper northern part of Coromandel waters.
As they move down the coastline the fish will move into many different areas taking up residence over the coldest parts of the season. Despite the departure of fish from the western side of Coromandel during early winter many still remain and some species can be large in size.
Kingfish are classic for this choosing the shallow areas in which to feed and shelter. Using live baits for them is best when targeting in these situations and requires heavy gear as they will tow you hard out sometimes finding some weed to wrap the leader around.
Snapper, trevally, john dory and kahawai are around also and can be targeted with softbaits, lures, natural bait and live bait.
The annual migration of fish back into the Hauraki Gulf is triggered when winter comes to an end and temperatures are on the increase as well as the amount of sunlight each day.
The first runs of snapper start as early as September so by October we find good fish down towards the Firth of Thames and back up to the top part of the peninsula. With the annual cycle of breeding on the snappers agenda they have voracious appetites in preparation for this activity.
Along with the snapper come everything else and this migration of fish finishes during the earliest part of summer.
On the eastern side of the peninsula the warmer waters bring greater numbers of pelagic species like kingfish who move in from the offshore retreats they have resided at during winter.
Skipjack tuna make an appearance with the warmer water temperatures especially along the eastern coasts however in recent times we have seen them on the west side also. Summer offers many opportunities on both sides of the peninsula with snapper more plentiful on the west coast at this time.
With summer almost over we once again start to see the retreat of fish from the Hauraki Gulf side of Coromandel Peninsula.
There certainly are plenty of places to try your hand at a bit of kayak fishing around the peninsula and with all this country it’s hard to choose a single area in which to fish. This is compounded by the large number of places that are capable of producing very big fish.
If we work our way up the coast from Wahi beach you find typical snapper and gurnard areas with sandy bottom often producing good fish and plenty of beach area to launch from.
Whiritoa and Whangamata are much the same with plenty of potential and good country right up the coast heading north past Onemana Beach and Opotere Beach followed by Tairua.
These areas produce most fish species around the coastline with snapper holding during winter and spring.
From Tairua north to the edge of the marine reserve at Hahei we find some very good areas along the coast for snapper, trevally, kahawai and the odd kingfish with Sailors Grave and Hot Water Beach areas holding some nice sized snapper during winter and spring.
On the other side of the marine reserve at Hahei and Cathedral Cove is Cooks beach on the southern edge of Mercury Bay which can produce fish at certain times of the year. From here we find Whitianga and one of the best things about this location is the outlet from Whitianga harbour and its tidal flow into Mercury Bay.
The amount of nutrients travelling around is enough to attract many species including baitfish and using live baits can produce a john dory because the surrounding area is known for holding plenty of them.
A word of caution with the entrance to Whitianga harbour this has very fast currents running at peak tidal times and should not be attempted unless you have experience. Mercury Bay has a lot to offer fishing wise with kahawai, trevally, john dory and snapper all available.
The bay opens out to the Pacific Ocean and from hear moving north around the coastline you are greeted with some of the best country the peninsula has to offer.
Areas like Devils Point on the north eastern tip out from Mercury Bay and the coastline along to Rabbit Island located at the southern end of Opito Bay are excellent big snapper country.
Rabbit Island is well known for snapper, john dory, terakihi and kingfish which appear throughout Opito bay along to the northern end. In this area locate patches of reef where kingfish can be in residence during summer to mid winter and big moocher snapper.
Opito is a great launching location when heading offshore to the any of the Mercury Islands, reefs and pinnacles found out to the east.
Places like danger rocks and the whale are often holding abundant schools of fish including the pelagic predator kingfish and many big snapper are also caught in closer at Ohinau Island.
These places are many kilometres from the mainland coast and are best explored by experienced kayak anglers paired up with another person or group. From here we head to Kuaotunu passing Sarahs Gully well known for john dory and big kingfish moving along this coastline in close to shore.
This area joins on to Otama Beach and the Blackjacks that are fantastic places for a chance encounter with a trophy snapper. Even the reef located just off the boat ramp at Kuaotunu is worth a look producing excellent fish at times.
The area from here north to Whangapoa can offer more excellent places to launch kayaks and fish close to shore especially north of New Chum beach. Find more good fishing locations heading up the coast to Tuateawa.
Excellent fishing can be found just out from the road along the coast here and this includes the DOC car parking area with toilet that offers good launching in the right conditions.
From here a short paddle north will bring you to some pinnacles with one of them looking like a witch’s hat and well worth a look including out further from the coast over the sand. The same can be said for the coast up to Waikawau Bay and the DOC camp offers easy beach access for launching kayaks.
Out in Waikawau Bay are some major reef systems that span across to Little Bay. The reef contains some deep drop offs with big fish to boot. In fact the coast line north of here is all good fishing country offering plenty of places to pluck big snapper and kingfish.
Further up the coast to the headland is Lion Rock that is well known for holding good kingfish as well as snapper on any one of the reef systems found close by.
Blue mao mao, kahawai and trevally schools are also known to be present in good numbers at this location with more than one school often found below or on the surface.
Heading back in to the headland that runs in towards Port Charles has produced many trophy snapper and this is the case with most of the coastline up to Poley Bay and around to Fletchers Bay.
Sandy Bay, Stony Bay and Fletchers Bay offer good places for launching the kayaks in this area of the peninsula. Out from Fletchers Bay is a network of reefs and Square Top Island will often be holding kahawai and kingfish.
The inside reef is well worth prospecting for big moocher snapper and heading west onto the deeper sand flats will offer the same opportunity.
Moving down the coast heading towards the Hauraki Gulf is a few nice underwater pinnacles located out from the shore and these can hold all sorts of species. At the end of this stretch of coast is another headland with lots of reef running out from the tip and is excellent for big snapper and trevally.
Port Jackson offers safe launching for kayaks and access to plenty of coast on the north western tip of peninsula.
This includes good fishing area around and down to Goat Bay where you can find another good spot for launching the kayaks. Fishing out from here and down the coast heading south towards Colville is all good country offering prime opportunities during the annual snapper runs and unlimited places to easily access the water.
The coastline is also well frequented by kingfish with some big ones cruising the coast and work ups will be found along here also. Out from Colville and down past Waitete Bay, Amodeo Bay to Papa Aroha again all with good launching for kayaks plus offering fantastic snapper fishing.
The islands out from Amodeo Bay and Papa Aroha have some very good fishing areas that extend right out to the Happy Jacks and Gannet Rock found further out from the coast.
Often the area out wide from here has large schools of fish with dolphins and gannets leading the action. From here we move down towards Coromandel harbour and again we find a vast network of islands all offering some great fishing and many places to launch including good opportunities to catch john dory, kahawai and trevally.
Mussel farms also adorn the landscape providing a food source and shelter for many fish however the larger specimens can prove harder to get in this kind of situation because of the network of lines under the water with mussels attached.
Out from the front of the Coromandel harbour the small islands named the cow and calf offering opportunities to fish along the drop off to deeper water for the snapper that are migrating into the Hauraki Gulf and down to the firth of Thames. South from Coromandel harbour you find more good terrain plus more islands and reef systems all holding fish.
From here we pass Deadmans point which is another great area that extends down to Wilsons bay offering good launching of kayaks. Numerous kayak launching opportunities along the coast extend all the way to Thames with plenty of fishing to be had both inshore and offshore for many types of fish species.
This area offers the kayak angler access to the Firth of Thames which has a number of mussel farms out from shore attracting fish.
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