by NZ Kayak Fishing
Coromandel is one of New Zealand’s best locations when it comes to fishing and kayaking with prime country offering coastlines on the east, west and north-facing directions. Having three coastlines with plenty of sheltered bays, estuaries and harbours means you can always find somewhere to fish.
Located in the north-east of the North Island of New Zealand, Coromandel is part of a peninsula that is forty kilometres at its widest point and runs from Waihi Beach on the east coast to the other side of Kopu in the Firth of Thames. At around eighty-five kilometres from Waihi Beach to the northern tip, the whole peninsula is scattered with offshore islands on all sides. These islands provide food, shelter and excellent terrain for marine life, so when the conditions allow are ideal places to explore in a kayak. Offshore islands can also receive much less fishing pressure which can mean more abundant fish life. Not only do the offshore islands around Coromandel Peninsula have prime areas to fish but also the mainland offers excellent environments. Visiting anglers to the region using boats can underestimate these inshore areas in favour of going further afield in search of fish often passing right over good numbers of them on the way out.
At certain times of the year fish are mainly found in close around the mainland so it is important when visiting the area to get an idea of what is happening. Another underestimated situation is the upper harbours and estuaries that can have massive kingfish cruising these areas feeding on the inhabitants. To be successful it all comes down to having a good plan of attack and sticking to it. This includes plenty of patience and being prepared to wait long periods of time for a kingfish to pass by your live-bait. Snapper are also in close to shore at certain times of year with the larger specimens often right up in the shallows to depths of around one metre. Figuring out the patterns of the region can take many years of fishing experience to develop, and with global warming these patterns are constantly changing with every year.
Understanding the season
All of the fish species that spend time in the areas around Coromandel Peninsula undertake certain activities during the course of each seasonal cycle in an entire year. During winter we see many snapper leave the western side of the peninsula making the annual run out of the Hauraki Gulf taking them to places like Great Barrier/Cuvier Islands and further afield. This also extends to further down the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula and out to the many offshore locations out from the mainland. What this means is that during such times you will find heavy concentrations of snapper around the upper-northern part of Coromandel waters. As they move down the eastern coastline the fish will move into many different areas, taking up residence over the coldest parts of the season.
Despite the departure of fish from the western side of Coromandel during early winter, many still remain and some species can be large in size. Kingfish are classic for this, choosing the shallow areas in which to feed and shelter. Using live baits for them is best when targeting in these situations and it requires heavy gear as they will tow you hard-out, sometimes finding some weed to wrap the leader around. Snapper, trevally, John dory and kahawai are around also and can be targeted with softbaits, lures, natural bait and live bait.
One of the best things about winter is hapuka making an appearance in close to the peninsula, meaning the kayaker has a shot at scoring one without paddling a long way offshore. This continues right through to December at times. The annual migration of fish back into the Hauraki Gulf is triggered when winter comes to an end and temperatures are on the increase, as well as the increased amount of sunlight each day. The first runs of snapper start as early as September, so by October we find good fish showing up, down towards the Firth of Thames and all the way up to the top part of the peninsula. With the annual cycle of breeding high on the snapper’s agenda, they have voracious appetites in preparation for this activity. Because of this, it is wise to limit the size and number you take for the pot so they can have a chance to reproduce. Along with the snapper comes everything else, and this migration of fish finishes during the earliest part of summer. Bird migrations are a good indicator of these fish moving in and can be a great way of locating them.
On the eastern side of the peninsula the warmer waters bring greater numbers of pelagic species like kingfish, which move in from the offshore retreats where they have resided during winter. Skipjack tuna can also make an appearance with the warmer water temperatures, especially along the eastern coasts, however they can also be found on the western side. Summer offers many opportunities on both sides of the peninsula, with snapper more plentiful on the west coast during this time. With summer almost over we once again start to see the retreat of fish from the Hauraki Gulf side of Coromandel Peninsula. Next time we cover the various locations and the best ways to target the fish.