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Wellington Harbour From The Boat

Wellington Harbour Entrance

Often overlooked by Wellington’s boaties is Wellington’s Harbour. It can produce as good a days fishing as anywhere else around Wellington's varied coastlines. Kingfish, Snapper, Tarakihi and Gurnard, plus all sorts of the more unusual fish species.

Fortunately the harbour is fishable in almost any wind direction up to fifteen - twenty knots. Whichever way the wind is blowing there are many sheltered bays or either Ward or Soames Island to anchor around, and smaller boats and Kayaks make full use of the many sheltered bays. Rods with very soft tips and reels with 6 - 10 kg line is all that’s needed.

Berley is a must, as there are no real reefs to anchor on, you have to bring the fish to you using berley. Look for ledges and channels to fish and always be aware that the harbor is a commercial waterway, keep your eye out for the Picton Ferries. Anchoring your boat where there is current movement is very important as you need your berley to drift to draw the fish to your baits. Don’t be too quick to change locations as it can take a while to set up a good berley trail.

The saying ‘you can catch a big fish on a small hook but its very hard to catch a small fish on a big hook’ certainly applies here. 1/0, 2/0 hooks and trace line should be no more than 15 to 20 kg of a nice clear nylon as the water is shallow and thick trace line is far too visible to the fish. Ledger rigs and running rigs work well with only small sinkers of one to three ounce required due to the shallow water.

It doesn’t take too much to spook a school of fish away from you boat, so try and keep noise down ie the banging of sinkers against the hull etc. Recommended baits would be fillets of oily fish like Tuna and Pilchards which work well along with fresh Squid. Try and not over bait your hooks when fishing the harbour as many of the harbour fish species have smaller mouths.

Fitzroy Bay From The Boat And Shore

Fitzroy Bay on Wellington’s South Coast is located just a little way out side Wellington Harbour on the eastern side. It is an ideal place for travel too, for an easy fish, both from the shore and the boat. You can catch a wide variety of fish here, from Tarakihi, Blue Cod, Elephant Fish, Gurnard etc, with Gurnard being your main target species.

Unlike most places when boat fishing, when the tide is running and conditions make it hard to fish the off shore reefs, Fitzroy Bay can provide an easy and enjoyable location to fish when difficult fishing conditions rule out other locations.

Anchoring in 25 to 30 metres while strong tides are running can be hard at the best of times and add to that Fitzroy Bays soft sand and shingle bottom, it can make it hard to fish, so you may need to add extra chain to your existing anchor or even use a larger anchor to ensure you can stop drifting in more difficult conditions.

When fishing Fitzroy Bay try and get wind and tide going in the same direction so on an outgoing tide you want a northerly wind and on an incoming tide you want a southerly wind.

Boat rods and reels should be 6 to 10 kg with either braid or nylon. Ledger rigs or flasher rigs with hook size 2/0 to 4/0 with pink flasher rigs being my favorite. Cut strip baits of Squid, Trevally and Tuna remembering to only punch bait though the hook once so strip baits look like little fish. You don’t have to use berley here for Gurnard but to catch other fish like Trevally, Tarakihi etc, though it sure helps.

To get to Fitzroy Bay from the shore, you need to either walk or cycle round from either Pencarrow, or Wainuiomata Beach. It is a long walk, but can be very productive for the keen shore angler willing to put in the effort to get there.

Baring Head And Turakarai Head Boat Fishing

Outside Wellington Harbour, this area is fast getting a reputation for big Blue Cod and Tarakihi, where fish of over three kilograms are caught regularly. There are many reefs to anchor on here ranging from thirty to eighty metres in depth, with most of the bigger fish being caught on the outer reef ranging from fifty to eighty metres in depth.

 Winds under ten knots are preferred here as the sea and wind conditions can change very quickly, a northerly wind being the better wind direction. Anchoring over the reefs is certainly to your advantage, and use berley six to ten feet off the reef surface. Rods and reels would normally be ten to fifteen kg with spooled with braid to allow for less drag with the strong running tides this area has.

 Flasher rigs work very well here on the Tarakihi, but be prepared to tie up some ledger rigs of your own as the razer blade gang (barracouta) have been known to test anglers patience every now and then. Flasher rigs should be 4/0 to 6/0 hook size as you do get some large odd ball fish from time to time, like ten to fifteen kilo groper and medium sized trumpeter. Ensure that the trace line you use is at least sixty to eighty pound nylon.

 If the tide is running too strongly to fish the outer reefs, then shift to the inshore reefs to depths of around thirty to forty metres or even the twenty metre mark if the tide is really screaming through. You can still catch good sized cod and reasonable sized Tarakihi but you will have to drop your hook size down to 2/0 or 3/0 hooks, and lighter trace line of forty to sixty pound breaking strain.

 Baits should be firm strips of Trevally, Squid or Mackerel. Don’t over bait your hooks as Tarakihi only have small mouths.

5 Mile Reef Boat Fishing

One of the largest reefs on Wellington’s South Coast, and the most under fished reef on this coast. Conditions are very tidal in Cook Strait with a strong current running most of the time, this can make for hard fishing if you don’t get your timing right. One to two hours before the tide turns at high water or low water is best, while at anchor, with your anchor tripped so it will break out of the rocks more easily. As the tide slows the fishing just gets better. There are not many fish I haven’t seen caught here from 50 lb Kingfish, 70 lb Groper, 20 lb Trumpeter and much more.

Tackle. Rods and reels should have super braid on them due to the strong tides with 30 lb minimum and 50 lb the most commonly used. Super braid has no stretch so you can feel the bites in very deep water and the thin diameter line cuts down drag from strong water currents. Ledger rigs tied on 80 to 100 lb trace for durability and strength due to the size of the fish caught at times at this location. Strong hooks 5/0 to 8/0 will do the job and sinkers 10 to 20 oz. As the tide slows down drop your sinker size down to make retrieving your line easier.

There are a lot of Perch here so we often fish with two rods at once. The first rod is set up with a large hook groper rig 8 to 12/0 hooks and a heavy sinker i.e. 20 oz and placed in a rod holder. Whole fish are used for bait i.e. Tarakihi, Mackerel etc, as the Perch don’t appear to have any interest in this kind of bait, but the Groper are attracted to these whole baits. The large sinker is to drag the big baits down and also to keep the line fairly straight. The other rod is fished hand held for Cod and Tarakihi etc, with strip baits and a lighter sinker to help keep the two lines apart.

One of the main reasons 5 Mile can fish so well, is the tide can make it very difficult to fish, so you only get a small window of opportunity to fish this area comfortably. So make sure you have several traces pre made and plenty of bait cut up and should a fish swallow your hook just replace the trace. Don’t waste ten minutes trying to get your hook out while the tide is fishable!

Top Tips For Five Mile Reef.

Fish your line 10 foot off the bottom for big Tarakihi, and this will also help slow the Perch by catch down.

To trip your anchor lay the anchor flat and lay the anchor chain back down the length of the anchor and secure with a cable tie. Should the anchor become caught in rocks you can gently reverse your boat backwards the cable tie will break and your anchor should pull free by coming out backwards.

 Always keep a watchful eye on the weather as conditions can change very fast out at 5 Mile.

Wishing you big bites, and lots of hook ups!

Hunters Bank Boat Fishing

On Wellington’s West Coast between Mana and Kapiti Island. Pictured is the South Island taken while anchored on Hunters Bank on a beautiful evening’s fishing trip. Hunters Bank offers a large variety of fish that can be caught, from Kingfish, Snapper, Tarakihi, Groper and Warehou just to name a few. Hunters Bank is very tidal, the best time to fish is a couple of hours before the turn of the tide ie high water or low water. Light winds under ten knots provide the optimum conditions. Rods and reels should be a minimum of 15 kg and traces at least 40 kg.

One of the most sort after fish at Hunters Bank are Kingfish, these are best fished for early morning or late evening. There are many ways to catch Kingfish, ie trolling lures, jigging poppers or by using live baits. Most days we would start by trolling lures three or four at a time, and have a good look over Hunters Bank using the fish finder (depth sounder) to find schools of fish and marking the spots on the GPS.

When trolling make sure you troll over the high points of the Bank, if trolling doesn’t work then we go back to the way points we entered in the GPS and use 200 - 300 gram jigs dropped to the bottom then retrieved very quickly, a reel with a minimum of a 4 to 1 gear ratio is a must. It is important to ensure that the traces used on trolling lures and jigs is a minimum 100 lb - 50 kg as Kingfish are the best at finding sharp rocks to try and dislodge the hook or break the line.

When anchoring on the sides of Hunters Bank, getting the change of tide is a must, as the tide can run like a river which makes fishing very hard. Heavy duty tackle is required here as there are no rules, while you may target Cod and Tarakihi you are just as likely to catch a Kingfish or a Groper.

Wishing you big bites, and lots of hook ups!

Pukerua Bay & Plimmerton Coastline Boat Fishing


Boat fishing for Snapper, Trevally, Tarakihi etc, with Snapper being our targeted fish. Waiting for a windless day in Wellington can be a long wait, so to ensure as much time on the water as possible on those less than perfect days, your timing of wind and tide in the same direction is a must. A simple guideline here is, when the wind is from the north you want an outgoing tide, and from the south, an incoming tide is the rule of thumb. The outgoing tide is preferred as the water is warmer from the north; if you get your timing right you can fish in winds of up to 15 knots quite easily.

There are not many things more important than berley when it comes to Snapper fishing. Berley is a fish attractant; it scents the water and lays a food-like trail for fish to follow leading to your baited hook. Any type of food that fish might like can be made into berley. Chicken mash, pig pellets or cooked rice makes a good base, and add to that old bait, fish frames, fish oil and mush altogether. Freeze into buckets or empty milk cartons and when needed the frozen berley will slowly disperse in Wellington’s cold coastal waters

A lot of anglers find berley too messy to use and don’t use it. However berley makes all the difference between being able to consistently catch Snapper or not. Berley need not be messy or hard to use if you make it simple. I use an electric fence tape holder, and have had it mounted on a pole with a gimble butt on the end so it fits into a rod holder for ease of use. I have wound on 200 yards of 300 lb nylon with a clip crimped on to the end, so the berley pots clip on and off.

Berley pots can be made from plastic mesh with cable ties used to hold the mesh together. I use plastic mesh for two main reasons. I can make the mesh into whatever size berley cage I require and the cost is minimal, but more importantly, when the tide is running hard the mesh berley pots don’t drag like the heavy plastic tube pots do, so we don’t have to use too much weight to get the berley down.

When fishing for snapper I anchor out from the reefs, on the sand, positioned so that the berley drifts back onto the reefs to drag the Snapper out. If the tide is running very strongly I would fish the inshore reefs, in some cases the depth of water may only be ten metres or less and only two hundred metres off shore.

In most locations we would allow about an hour for Snapper to show up, if nothing was happening after this space of time I would shift to another reef and try again. You don’t have to travel miles in this area as there are plenty of rocky reefs to berley amongst.

Ideal tackle would be 10 to 15 kg rod and reel sets with nylon the preferred type of line. While flasher rigs do work at times, don’t be caught in the mind set of only using flasher rigs, as basic nylon tied running or ledger rigs can work very well. Baits are; firm fish fillets i.e. Tuna, Trevally or fresh Squid and my personal favourite is fresh Kahawai with the skin removed.

Now is the time to be making the most of this great fishing coastline as the Snapper are around in great numbers this time of year.

Surf Casting Wellington Harbour

Wellington Harbour offers all year round surf casting, with as large a variety of fish to be caught, as there are many and varied places to fish. Kahawai, Snapper, Tarakihi, Cod and Gurnard are the most commonly caught fish, though there is also a wide variety of the more unusual species such as Elephant Fish, Skate, Leather Jackets and Kingfish.

Like all fishing spots, wind plays a large part in your decision of where and how to fish. If conditions are windy try and find a sheltered spot so that your rod doesn’t shake all over the place as this makes it hard to detect the bites.

During daylight hours baits need to be very tough as the small ‘pick it’ fish will strip your bait in seconds. Use quite a large hook such as a 4/0 or 5/0 with big firm baits like Squid, Trevally or Mackerel, the idea here is that all the small fish have a go at the bait and advertise the bait to attract the attention of the larger fish. With larger baits you only have to check baits about every ten to fifteen minutes compared to every three or four minutes with smaller baits. After night falls, hooks can be changed down to 2/0 or 3/0, and change to the softer oily baits like Tuna or Pilchards as the ‘pick it’ fish don’t usually feed after dark.

Most local anglers have heard the stories about the big/ huge fish being caught at the likes of Miramar wharf, the Overseas Passenger Terminal or Petone wharf etc, only because these places are fished twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. There is no spot in the Harbour that is the best spot, such is the diverse and successful nature of fishing in Wellington Harbour. Every little bay, jetty, beach or wharf offers potentially great fishing.

Surfcasting Wainuiomata Beach On The South Coast 

Wainuiomata Beach is a forty to fifty minute drive from central Wellington, driving over the Wainuiomata Hill and then down the Coast Road. It is a very large open beach that offers some good Moki and Spotty Shark fishing plus Trevally and Gurnard for good measure.

Northerly winds of up to twenty knots still allows the beach to be fishable, but southerly winds can be a disaster. Check the size of the swell before you drive over as anything over one and a half metres makes it very hard to fish. When you get to the beach you will notice the rocky shore line on your left has some good clear patches to cast into for Moki. Only a short cast here of twenty metres is all that is required. With two hook ledger rigs and size 3 to 4/0 hooks, and using sand grip sinkers are to your advantage as they will help hold your line tight in either the swell or a cross wind

Bait should be either raw Mussel, Paddle Crabs or Crayfish. Like most surf casting, early morning or late afternoon is the best time to go, while fishing on a rising tide. I prefer late evening and fishing well into the night as the Moki will come inshore and feed most of the night in close.

At the other end of the beach looking back toward Wellington is a long open beach with the odd rock showing off shore, well out of casting distance. While you don’t catch many Moki here, you do get some very good Spotty Shark fishing. Like the Moki, two hook ledger rigs are used with 3 - 4/0 and sand grip sinkers. However our bait changes from Mussel to predominantly Crab and Cray and using cotton to hold the baits together. When using a firm drag setting on your reel, ensure your rod is well secured as some of the Spotty Sharks are well over ten kilos and are fully capable of dragging your rod and reel out to sea! Unlike Moki you can catch Spotty Sharks through out the day, and on most tides.

Surfcasting Makara Beach

Surfcasting at Makara Beach is an easily accessible location for the surfcaster. Drive through Karori then over the Makara Hill and follow the road to the sea, and you will arrive at a steep shingle beach. Southerly winds are preferred here as the wind is at your back, or light northerly winds are fishable too, up to ten knots.

Depending on the time of year your catch will vary a lot from Tarakihi, Snapper, Trevally, Red Cod etc. The preferred time is from February to June with Trevally and Snapper having been caught over these months. Early morning or late evening are the best times, with a rising tide preferred.

Tackle should be surf rods, ten to twelve foot with long cast reel. The further you cast here the better the fishing. Often I use only one hook around the 4/0 - 5/0 size because with one hook you can cast further, two hooks cause more resistance when casting and decrease your casting distance.

Bait should be firm fillets or shell fish well cottoned on to handle the long casting. While many anglers fish a running drag, a firm set drag in a well secured beach spike is the answer at this location.

Surfcasting Lake Ferry, South Wairarapa 

Lake Ferry has been making a name for itself over recent years with some top quality fish having been caught. Approximately an hour and half’s drive from central Wellington it offers a great weekends fishing for the family, or for the serious angler.

Winds should be from the north, and with the swell under one metre. Surf casting rods of twelve to fourteen foot in height, and reels spooled with twenty to twenty five pound nylon, are best suited to this location as it is open beach fishing where the swell often rolls up the beach. Rod holders are a must. This area is well known for its Kahawai and Red Cod fishing all year round, but over recent times anglers are changing their tactics by using lighter lines around three to six kg on their reels, and using thirty or forty pound leaders so they can cast greater distances.

Baits have changed as well. Rather that using the Pilchard and fillet baits of the past, anglers have found success using Crabs whole or cut in half, and Mussel and Cray bait have started to show what the Wairarapa can produce with many a good Snapper, Moki and some big Spotty Sharks having been caught. Using Flasher Rigs in conjunction with traditional fillet baits is another successful way to enhance your bait and improve your catch rate.

Hooks should be between 4/0 and 6/0 tied on forty to sixty pound trace line. Use distance casting sinkers if there is no swell, should the swell be up, use sand grip sinkers with the wires that fold back when you want to retrieve your line. This style sinker is invaluable for holding your baits in position and prevents baits rolling around in the swell and greatly improves the chance of fish finding your baits.

When you fish in the Wairarapa you often see anglers catch Paddle Crabs and throw them back, get them to throw these crabs your way and put the halved crabs out on a 4/0 to a 6/0 hook and hang on!


Taking Kids Fishing From The Shore

Safety and Fun, and Getting Started 

When you take a kid fishing, first and foremost the experience needs to be a safe and fun one. Water safety is of paramount importance especially when taking kids fishing. Often popular kids’ fishing spots are from jetty’s and boat harbours, and wharves where there can be a big drop down to the water. Always ensure that you supervise small kids around the edge of the wharf, and for safety’s sake, always know where the ladders are to reach down to the water level should anybody fall in, and if available the location of any floatation devices. It is recommended that kids wear a floatation device when around water. Great care needs to be taken with all kids around ANY body of water. 

Fishing needs to be fun; kids have a shorter attention span than adults and to keep them interested in fishing, little and often is recommended. Catching your first small spotty type fish is a thrilling experience, and always deserves a picture! (And a chocolate fish makes a fun reward!)

Using a small rod and reel, or simple hand line is all that is needed to get kids fishing. A simple packet of bait flies needs no bait and catches spottys, herrings and other small fish very effectivly. Or you can put a tiny bit of bacon rind or squid in the hooks to further attract the fish. With small kids it is a good idea to cut your string of five or six bait flies in half as they do tangle easily. A couple of really small sinkers, an ice-cream container with a little bit of bread to make a slushy burley and you’re ready to fish. 

By throwing in a handful of slushy bread down the side of an underwater pile and dropping the kids lines down in the middle of the slush, you are attracting the fish to the exact spot the kids hooks are, and are increasing their chances of hooking a fish. Remember the idea is to attract the fish’s attention to the area where the hooks are, not to put so much slush down that it feeds them! If you are putting bait on the bait flies or on a small hook, it is really important to keep the bait size tiny. Remember a small fish has a tiny mouth and can’t physically swallow a big piece of bait. You greatly increase your chances of catching more fish using small baits than you do using big pieces of bait. 

As an adult it is great fun to catch a big fish, but for many kids it can be frightening to hold on to a line that feels as though a big fish is going to pull them into the water. So it is important to try and target the size of the fish to the size of the kids. Small kids are always thrilled to catch anything, though often not so keen to touch the fish. Given time and seeing that the adults are ok with handling the fish, and either keeping or releasing the fish, will inspire the kids with confidence to have a go when they are ready. 

So if you are planning on taking a kid fishing in Wellington Harbour, Days Bay wharf as a good example of a fun place to take a kid fishing. It is easy to fish, not too high above the water, and when the kids have had enough, you can go across the road to the park for an ice-cream and a run around. This makes for a fun days outing for all the family! 

If you find you need a bit more help, please get in touch - we love helping kids to get out fishing - and helping non fishing parents.

Happy Fishing 

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From the Blog

Fishing Report 13.09.2019

Fishing Report 13.09.2019

September 13, 2019

Wellington Area Fishing Report Wellington Harbour. There have been a few early moki being caught along with some good sized...

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