Gone Fishing— Smudge says—30 January 2018

Game fishing for tuna and marlin is in full swing with warm blue water in very close to shore. Skipjack and albacore tuna seem to be everywhere with 110m being the depth that most marlin are being caught up until now. So far the biggest to cross the scales at Te Toro is a 142kg striped marlin for Vance Hodgson and crew aboard Tomahawk. I’m looking forward to the weekend for our first crack at a gamefish this season and while it’s not really something I’m too knowledgeable on, I do see a lot of marlin that come in for weighing and hear a lot of stories so I’m hoping that I’ve learned a trick or two!
Tuna are a lot easier to catch though and we like to grab a few skipjack for bait and some albacore for the table. Trolling small lures around at six knots in blue water works well, especially if you see birds actively feeding or you see disturbance on the surface. Albacore are a great eating fish and need to be bled and put on ice as soon as they are caught. To bleed them, push a knife in just behind their pectoral fins right on the lateral line. It’s best that’s done in a bucket. They are powerful fish and hard to hold onto sometimes but the trick is to hold them by the tail so they hang down, that usually calms them. They are great as sashimi with soy and wasabi or simply cut into chunks, seasoned and cooked very briefly in hot oil just to sear the outsides. The cooked part will go white and the inside should mostly be pink otherwise they will be dry tasting. They are very tasty when done right.
Snapper fishing off the coast can be red hot or rather hard depending on where you are fishing. I’ve heard reports of tough fishing in close with huge shark problems and great fishing out in deeper water. Then I hear the exact opposite. If I spend 30 minutes fishing without catching a snapper out there I’m always tempted to move. If we’ve caught sharks in that time then there’s no doubt about it. Move in or move out, just go somewhere different.
Fishing inside the harbour has been frustrating due to the large amount of red weed that covers your line and baits. To get around it try fishing in low current areas or simply by clearing the weed off your line every few minutes which works well in shallow water. Snapper, gurnard, kingfish and kahawai are the main catches. Little snapper can be a curse and the easiest way to avoid them is to move. To prevent those greedy little fish from swallowing our hooks we use a minimum of 7/0 hooks, preferably circle hooks. There are a lot of mullet in the harbour and they are one of the better smoked fish you’ll ever taste. They are really only caught by netting but make sure you know the rules for netting in the harbour first.
Happy fishing, Smudge

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