In this exclusive blog, Angler’s Mail news editor Thomas Petch looks at angling down under, in New Zealand, after returning from a family holiday. Share the blog with friends on Facebook and Twitter by clicking icons above, or simply by telling people!
I’VE just got back from a dream holiday to sunny New Zealand with my Surrey-based but definitely kiwi girlfriend Andrea – and would recommend it to any British angler.
I found it to be a bit of a culture shock as the kiwis just don’t get our coarse fishing – but I think most of us would get into their sea and game fishing.
Being made up of two long narrow islands, they are surrounded by ocean and everyone realistically able to get to it so you can see why they are so sea fishing mad.
I reckon a million of the tiny four million-strong nation fishes! I was told it used to be every third house owned their own small fishing boat, but that number has declined a bit.
And especially with the sport on offer and from what I could tell it is not over trawled to death like our British coastline.
Snapper fishing seems to be the big thing out there and even they have magazines dedicated solely to the tasty sea fish, a bit like carp are the vogue species here.
But don’t mention carp over there! They not keen on illegal species as you may have picked up on the tough stance on imports which many of us have seen on TV with Border Patrol.
We nearly fell foul of a £200 instant fine on arrival as my son Bryn has two apples packed in his rucksack which his mother had packed for him – and that’s a real no-no!
We were told ‘no exceptions’ to the 400 dollar fine but after explaining it was my ex wife’s fault and we knew nothing about it, we were luckily let off with a caution… but only because they were in Bryn’s bag and they weren’t going to prosecute a minor!
Catch and release? Err, what about dinner?
Chatting to the fishing-mad locals, the thought of sitting it out for hours and days on end for crafty fish AND then put them back was completely alien.
The kiwis are a tough sporty bunch and they ideally want to get a tasty dinner at the end of a session, not a photo of a bloated carp!
And I suppose with the great fishing there was to be had you could see why.
I went boat fishing a few times with my Andrea’s dad Al on his trailer boat and it was action galore.
We had some nice keeper snapper but the thing that really struck me was just how many undersized baby ones there were out at sea but also from the shore.
Literally every cast you’d have a bite, often from smaller ones ripping the bait off, but it made me realise just how poor our sea fishing is.
Our equivalent species would be black bream and while I’ve caught a fair few of them, they just aren’t in anything the same numbers.
They also have some really decent fish from the shore including kingfish which I failed to tangle with but would definitely target if I ever moved there. Seeing them strike at baitfish 30 yards away was amazing.
I had a livebait out for them occasionally without any luck and despite having a whole squid bait our for sting ray, two passing big stingers failed to pick up my bait but it was a pleasure to see them anyway.
The land of HUGE eels!
Me and Bryn also did some eel fishing by setting deadlines under a bridge of a nearby stream – an allowed method out there.
We caught seven chunky specimens on bacon, a bait, incidently, that some old cockney fellas use to catch lumpy eels back home on the tidal River Thames in central London, near Angler’s Mail HQ.
The eels we caught in New Zealand went back unharmed but I saw some real monsters in zoos and a no-fishing park lake. It is the country to go to for double-figure fish if you are a real eel-head.
The 24-hour flight split between two journeys is a pain but worth it to anyone keen on catching loads of fish in probably the most scenic country in the world – I certainly recommend you save up. I can’t wait to go out again!