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A different form of fishing (NZ)


Houseplant
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We have been hit really hard by easterly winds this summer. Our relatively calm east coast has taken a battering and the usually wild west coast has had some reprieve. As a result, fishing opportunities have been limited. When a friend called me up and asked if I wanted to go "kontiki" fishing on the west coast, I jumped at the chance. A kontiki is an unmanned GPS-guided, battery-powered vessel which can carry a fishing line up to 2km offshore. 

We left at lunchtime and travelled to the west coast. In contrast to the Pacific Ocean-facing east coast which is largely formed of jagged volcanic rocks, the west coast is exposed to the Tasman Sea and the coastline is mile-upon-mile of flat sandy beaches. Most of the beaches are remote with no people or settlements as far as the eye can see. Driving down these beaches in a 4x4 was a lot of fun in itself, but note the beach is a State Highway with speed limits. Not that anyone pays attention to them of course!

With one guy on the kontiki and another on the winch containing the fishing line, we set it off in to the Tasman Sea, clipping on baited lines as it went out.

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The kontiki took about 15 minutes to get to it's predetermined distance, then we sat back and had some beers. After another 30 minutes, it was time to winch the 1.5km of line back in. Thankfully, the winch was motorised, so we didn't have to do this by hand. 

Although there was no sporting element to this style of fishing, it was quite exciting watching the fish come up on to the beach. We caught three snapper and five kahawai, a large mackerel-like species. More than enough to feed three families.

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We then packed up and headed home. Fish filleting was done straight away, not by me for a change (!) and we made fish and chips which seemed to please everybody including the kids.  

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It was an interesting experience. As I mentioned, there is no sporting element to it, but can see that there is some skill in picking the right location and using the equipment. It is a good alternative when sea conditions are too dangerous for boating. Also, you have to understand that for a lot of New Zealanders, fishing is about harvesting fish to feed their families rather than sport. 

Edited by Houseplant
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  • 2 weeks later...
4 hours ago, chrisjpainter said:

interesting read. Do you not get problems with sharks raiding the hooked fish before they're winched in?

Yes, it's a huge problem, that why we can't leave the bait out any longer than 30 minutes. Fish takes bait, shark takes fish and hook. It's not unusual for the kontiki itself to be attacked. If the mainline gets bitten through, you have just lost $5K worth of gear.

50 minutes ago, enfieldspares said:

Do you use circle hooks? There's some bad people that poach trout lakes using a stone and a longish line with circle hooks to also get "free fish".

Yes, something very similar in a heavy gauge. Once a fish is hooked, it is hard for it to shake the hook. I didn't see any gut hooked fish on the day we went out, all hooked in scissors or lip.

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49 minutes ago, Houseplant said:

Yes, it's a huge problem, that why we can't leave the bait out any longer than 30 minutes. Fish takes bait, shark takes fish and hook. It's not unusual for the kontiki itself to be attacked. If the mainline gets bitten through, you have just lost $5K worth of gear.

Yes, something very similar in a heavy gauge. Once a fish is hooked, it is hard for it to shake the hook. I didn't see any gut hooked fish on the day we went out, all hooked in scissors or lip.

 

Getting a couple on at once would be hairy. lovely meals all set to go for you there though. Nice work

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Hi, We used to something similar but smaller scale up here in Northumberland when I was younger. Called a West winder because  you needed a West wind to take the wooden platform out to sea. Baited line was coiled on top,probably about 200 yes. As kids we didn't catch much but mackerel,cod,pollack would occasionally come back in.

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3 minutes ago, toads said:

Hi, We used to something similar but smaller scale up here in Northumberland when I was younger. Called a West winder because  you needed a West wind to take the wooden platform out to sea. Baited line was coiled on top,probably about 200 yes. As kids we didn't catch much but mackerel,cod,pollack would occasionally come back in.

That's interesting. Didn't know anyone did anything like that in the UK. Kite fishing has been practiced by Polynesian peoples for hundreds of years. It's still practiced in NZ to some degree using modern materials, but has slowly given way to kontiki fishing which in turn, is being superseded by drone fishing. The latter is getting more popular and the kit is very impressive. 

 

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It was usually when we all camped at the beach,even though we only lived 1/2 mile from the shore. The other method was a (set) line put out at low tide again baited hooks every couple of yards. Left until next low tide to retreive

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1 hour ago, toads said:

 The other method was a (set) line put out at low tide again baited hooks every couple of yards. Left until next low tide to retreive

I remember seeing that on a survival show and thinking that it was pretty clever. 

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19 hours ago, toads said:

other method was a (set) line put out at low tide again baited hooks every couple of yards. Left until next low tide to retreive

I know slightly less than nothing about fishing but, is this the same as Night lining ( may only be a Lancashire expression though). The bloke I was apprenticed to used to go night lining and always caught something called 'Dabs'. He caught so many his nickname was Dabs

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2 hours ago, Diver One said:

I know slightly less than nothing about fishing but, is this the same as Night lining ( may only be a Lancashire expression though). The bloke I was apprenticed to used to go night lining and always caught something called 'Dabs'. He caught so many his nickname was Dabs

I remember seeing some photos of a chap called Peter Blackburn doing that on the Solway , he had dabs on most of the hooks, he said they set them at low tide and covered the baited hooks with a hand full of sand so the gulls didn't take em .

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Awesome.  Great eating fish as well.  What a neat way to go fishing.

I caught a nice bass once in a backwater called Scotts Quay off the Helford River over here just cast out three lugworms way before the tide came in and then had the excitement of watching the bass running right up front in what was a small bore about 18 inches deep.  Suddenly the rod nearly got snatched out of my hand as they passed by, you only had the one chance.  We had the fillets grilled for breakfast.

Edited by Walker570
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On 24/02/2022 at 20:47, Houseplant said:

That's interesting. Didn't know anyone did anything like that in the UK. Kite fishing has been practiced by Polynesian peoples for hundreds of years. It's still practiced in NZ to some degree using modern materials, but has slowly given way to kontiki fishing which in turn, is being superseded by drone fishing. The latter is getting more popular and the kit is very impressive. 

 

Yep. Back in the '60s the "Galloping Gerties" arrived from, I think, Australia. Knocked ours up from aluminium. Stationed in North Devon at that time so we had Woolacombe, Saunton and Croyde beaches on our doorstep - these being much smaller versions of where you were. I think it must have been a short lived fad as I was packed off to Germany and on return never saw them again. Unlike Toads' version, Gerty ran along the sea-bed - the retreating wave acting on a 'sail' which pivoted and laid flat on an incoming flow. Good for 200 to 300 yards at best.

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