What a strange season we are experiencing off the coast of New Zealand.
As per my earlier reports, warm water came in early and the Mahimahi & Blue Marlin were well ahead of schedule but the Striped Marlin didn’t seem to have quite got the message!
As is often the case during the La Nina weather pattern we are currently experiencing, Blue Marlin numbers are increased and the presence of the, usually more commonplace Striped Marlin, are reduced.
Yellowfin Tuna numbers have been fairly consistent, though fluctuating at times, with good average sizes and the best fish to date of 204 lbs may have toppled the NZ record if it hadn’t been left on ice for 3 days before weighing.
Striped Marlin have been wholly unpredictable. These are our “bread & butter” game fish but didn’t follow the Yellowfin or precede the Blues and Mahimahi in any great numbers or concentration. It seems that the main concentration may have headed down the “wild” west coast.
The Three Kings Islands have been firing with daily multiple catches commonplace. A trip here is usually a 5 day adventure but one boat rushed through the night during a weather window, fished a single day & returned through the following night…result 11 Marlin tagged & released!
Blue Marlin have been present a little further south, with a couple of “horses” seen which repeatedly looked at both lures & livebaits, but decided against lunch!
A few Wahoo have been taken here and there are signs that the Broadbill season could be a good one, with one boat hooking four (though later lost) in a single night.
The Blue Marlin catches have certainly been the prominent feature of the season, making our usual average of 400lbs look small. There have been a number of fish over 600lbs so far, with the best reaching 876lbs & 972lbs.
The latter trembled the existing NZ record of 1,015lbs but the fact that many private vessels are out on the water, geared up for Stripies and with little or no experience of Blues, means that record fish are being lost.
Frequent reports have been coming in of reels spooled and fish lost afters hours of one-sided battles.
Black Marlin are encountered every year, but by accident rather than intention.
If a boat leaves it’s lures out late into shallower water or happens to run over one in transit, then explosive action sometimes follows. Our Blacks are linked to the Cairns population & are usually large and usually lost!
Again the tackle is usually inadequate and the two most recent incidences proved this, both lost after 5 hour battles.
Update. 2nd April 2008: Blue Marlin are still being taken along with Mahimahi and the Striped Marlin have been showing up in big numbers on the west coat, with up to 20 shots a day! Best Stripey to date, a fantastic fish from Hokianga, just sort of the 400lb mark.
A top boat has just returned from the Three Kings, having fished this area for 4 days catching 12 Stripies, a Blue around 700lbs and an incredible 4 Broadbill!
North Cape and Houhoura have enjoyed exciting action from packs of Stripies, though live bait has usually necessary to get a firm hook hold.
Whether any significant game fishing action returns south of Whangaroa before the season ends is hard to call.