As the weather turns more wintry thoughts and actions start to move away from game fishing, which is a pity as the signs are there that some very big Striped Marlin and Broadbill remain to be caught.
The unusual feeding patterns of our Striped Marlin have continued. It seems the huge amount of deep water bait schools have diminished and the Marlin have returned to the more usual surface feeding habits.
These fish have still remained a challenge, however, being primarily and heavily focussed on tiny saury and difficult to distract away from their hard feeding intentions before their winter migration begins.
Huge numbers of Marlin have concentrated close to the coast off Tutukaka, but catch rates have been disproportionately low. The best was 20 fish from 40 boats but other days have seen as few as 5 fish from 80 boats, despite many boats seeing upwards of 20 fish per day! Lures are largely ignored (even small saury imitations) with livebaits more successful, though the readily available large kahawai have hardly matched the hatch!
When these big baits have been swallowed, however, some massive Stripeys have resulted.
There have been numerous fish over 300lbs, topped by a beauty of 384.5 lbs on 3kg line! The all tackle record also shuddered when a top “retired” captain boated a fish of 450lbs for his deckie!
This amazing captain, recently completed a trip after Broadbill and caught no less than 5 of these elusive brutes, taking his tally to over 100 in 6 seasons.
Another daytime Broadbill has been taken by deep drifting and this one thumped the scales down to an impressive 586lbs.
Few charters are taking place, unfortunately, and the potential has been mainly exploited by private boats.
There are large numbers of Yellowtail Kingfish around, with the big annual tournament due to take place in early June. Several of the livebaits will be hit, however, by the increasing number of Mako sharks. Mechanical jigging may be a better option.
Thoughts are now turning to the short season where giant Bluefin Tuna are caught each year in August & September from the west coast.