Saltwater fly fishing around Auckland

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Snapper Noir

Snapper are justifiably popular as a sport fish in New Zealand, which arguably has the best snapper fishing on the planet. They are a hard fighting, handsome, widespread and delicious fish that is a prime target for saltwater fly fishers.

While a snapper is a colourful spectacle in its own right, I offer a couple of black and white views of this wonderful species to evoke its no-nonsense character and gritty nature.


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Buoy Rats are cool!

One of the more reliable locations to find Yellowtail Kingfish is around harbour buoys or other marker structures.

The basic procedure is approach the buoy, cast your fly as close as possible then rip the fly back as fast as you can. The speed achieves two things: it triggers the predator reaction to pursue the fly, and the further you entice the fish from the buoy increases  the chance that once hooked you will be able to stop the fish diving back around the buoy mooring line.

On this occasion everything followed the text book. First cast, no response. Second cast, a flash of green and yellow behind the fly. Third cast the fish followed the fly 4-5 meters before smashing it. Perfect!

The reel drag is set tight and I clamped down on the reel spool for the first few seconds as Matt reversed the boat (as in photo below). The fly rod was “only” a 9 weight which is at the lower limit for this sort of combat and as the fish was “only” a rat (ie small ) so we got away it. Bigger fish will usually dictate the battle in the early moments and often the angler is totally at mercy of the whatever the greenback hoodlum wants to do.


If you think kingfish fights are visually spectacular, like a berserk leaping kahawai (or rainbow trout for the freshwater anglers), then you’d be disappointed, they are down and dirty ( like a big brown trout) thugs  with one intention to get a near any structure to wrap the line around. Most of the time your rod will be at least half submerged in the water to hold the line off the boat hull. Unless the fish kindly runs away from the boat, or heads towards the surface (unlikely in the early stages of the fight) any attempt to pull the rod tip up above the surface is to invite a broken rod.


Angler’s POV Video:

Kingfish from the buoy Video




The mandatory grip and grin before release.

So this was my first kingfish for summer 2018 after, all the sweeter after being spurned by many kingfish I had stalked in shallow water in the previous weeks.

Hopefully more to follow!

Summer of 2018: January 04


Full moon high tide


Fish on!


Fighting gamely


Snapper is finally exhautsed




Posing before release

And a rough movie using my latest fishing camera (Nikon 1 AW-1)

VIMEO movie: Snapper on the fly

Vanquished by a Vapen

A handsome snapper out of shallow water on a crab fly pattern.IMG_0188

Autumn Snapper in the shallows

The summer season of 2016-2017 was a bit of a non event for most swoffers around Auckland. The seemingly endless easterly “breezes” delayed the water warming and didn’t help water clarity by stirring up silt in the shallows most of the time. There were a few windows of opportunity, usually around dawn when the wind dropped off for a few hours before returning to ruin the scene.

However managed to get down into the water on the ebb tide in the Waitemata Harbour, calm water and barely a puff of wind – sort of like a very late summer day.

Long story short, after missing the first dozen or so strikes, I finally got the mojo in order and started hooking a steady succession of snapper, one legal size and few close to, while the rest were well off the pace. But all were fun and appreciated!


Yes that water ended up on the camera lens …

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Rainy Day Kahawai

A lot of people will remember Sunday 12 March 2017 as it will appear on thousands of insurance claims for water damage. I awoke Sunday morning to find the weather that morning had calmed down from the rain and wind of Saturday. I dashed down to my local fishing spot in time to catch the high tide – to find the water mostly clear – and within three casts – to be containing kahawai.  A small one of 30cm sturdily resisted but the 10 weight Redington Vapen dragged it ashore to pose before being returned.


A second hookup followed in another few casts – this one was definitely bigger and took to the air in two quick jumps – and threw the hook.

But there was more rain predicted and it came across the harbour, the North Shore blotted out by the oncoming rain, and the motorway to the south almost disappearing from sight as the rain poured down on me.


The rain cleared and I worked the water near the mangroves, hooking another small kahawai before it was time to get home.

A good way to start the day.






Shallow Water Kingfish: Up close & quite personal