Remember to always keep the point and barb of the hook exposed, don't choke the bite of the hook with bait, and always check the point is clear of fish scales.
Note : We use snelled Target Snapper Hooks on all of our kite and longline rigs because of the holding power, catch rate and the fact they seldom gut hook undersized snapper.
If you use J shaped Octopus or O'Shaugnessy fish hooks on snapper longlines your catch will be reduced by more than half. For catch rates similar to those in this article always use snelled 4/0 to 5/0 circle hooks baited as shown.
Use Fresh Bait
Luckily I have a fish hawker just down the road who usually has fresh mullet and sometimes a variety of small mackerel. I always pick whatever looks freshest and hope that it is tough enough to last a while in the surf or out just behind the breakers.
This is my starter bait for the first set and I bait the rig carefully in the hope of catching a kahawai, trevally or some other suitable bait fish. When I get to the beach I scale the bait fish before filleting, then cut the bait into strips about
25mm wide and between 50 to 100mm long.
Fresh Bait is everything, I am a fanatic when it comes to bait for kitefishing. If I don't have to kill it before I cut it up it certainly isn't fresh enough. Obviously it is impossible to take live bait with you so if you want absolutely fresh bait
it has to be caught on the day.
The last few times I have been kitefishing I have been lucky enough to catch a few kahawai on the first set and have filleted them as above. A few weeks ago I caught six kahawai and one snapper on the first 12 hook set baited with mullet from the hawker.
I cut up the two smallest kahawai for bait and was rewarded with six snapper ranging from one to two and a half kilograms on the following set.
While filming with the Japanese crew the previous week we caught only one kahawai and a gurnard on the first 12 hook set. The next 12 hook set, baited with the kahawai we had just caught, returned with seven snapper and four huge gurnard.
The two biggest snapper weighed in at 3kg, one at 2.5kg and the rest were about two kilograms each. Eleven fish on twelve size 4/0 Target Snapper Hooks baited with just caught kahawai!
If this was just happening to us perhaps it would be possible to argue it is just a coincidence, but everybody we spoke to were getting the same results. When using fresh mullet their catches were only fair, but all who used just caught kahawai had
really improved their snapper and gurnard catch.
A customer in the shop reported to me that the day after I was at the beach he caught two kahawai and a gurnard on his first 25 hook set baited with mullet. The second set was baited with the kahawai and returned 14 snapper to 6kg, five huge gurnard
and a couple of kahawai.
This equates to an 84% catch rate!
Personally, I don't think kahawai is actually the best bait. Fresh caught mackerel or trevally are superior, unfortunately both are a lot harder to catch on the west coast.
If you catch either of these make sure to give it a try. An old customer of ours always used freshwater eels for bait. The eels were taken live to the beach. He caught more gurnard than anyone I know and very little of anything else.
I have even used gurnard for bait when the trevally bait I had taken was too soft to hang on to the hook. The first 30 hook set of the day with the near liquid trevally returned with a tiny kahawai and two very small gurnard ( it was before the 25 hook
limit came in ).
I just managed to get 30 very small baits out of the three fish and was amazed to catch 28 good gurnard on the next 30 hook set. The thing that really surprised me is how tough gurnard baits are, I had to cut every one of them off with a knife.
It seems to me that just caught bait is significantly more productive than anything you can purchase or pre-prepare. While you still need to take some bait with you to catch your live bait, the extra time spent doing so is probably the best way of assuring
the best catch of the biggest fish of the most desirable species possible on the day.
During our recent fishing trips we noticed that several people were using squid and none we interviewed had caught snapper or gurnard. While some were catching kahawai none were using it for bait.
Squid just doesn't seem to be working at the moment at Muriwai Beach. Frozen mullet was fishing at around half the catch rate of fresh mullet from the hawker. On the sets we saw hauled in, most of the baits had gone - probably stolen by crabs on the
way through the surf zone.
I saw a report from the serious crash unit on TV the other night and was surprised to find the speed limit on Muriwai is 70kph. This is a sensible speed and if everybody adheres to it the beach will be a safer place for motorists and all other beach
The SCU program focused on how easy it is to flip a vehicle on sand. When turning, even slightly, a sand curb builds up on the outside of the wheels on the side opposite the direction of the turn.
If the front wheels catch on this curb the steering wheel can be ripped out of your hands and the steering instantly goes into a full lock in the direction of the turn.
This causes the front wheels to dig in and stop while the rest of the vehicle is still moving. The car then violently flips over the front wheels at a 45 degree angle.
The vehicle in the program was travelling 100kph plus on a straight part of the beach and possibly made a slight turn to avoid a wave. The front wheels dug in and the vehicle flipped and was airborne for 9.5 meters. After landing it rolled seven
and a half times before coming to rest.
There were fatalities and serious injuries as everyone was thrown from the vehicle by the huge forces involved. It was possible that a slight difference in the hardness of the sand during the turn was a contributing factor to the accident.
I have seen four vehicles that have flipped in this fashion on Muriwai over the last 18 years so keep the speed down, take it easy on the beach and please drive carefully.
Vehicle on Beaches - Ban Them?
Paul attended a meeting organised by the Rodney Distric Council to discuss the issue of allowing vehicles on beaches. Of around 70 attendees only FOUR were representing those who actually drive on the beaches.
DOC and enviromental groups were by far in the majority. The feeling Paul got was that the vast most were either very concerned about the damage caused by vehicles on beaches, and wanted more controls placed on 4WD access, or they simply wanted vehicles
banned completely from all beaches.
Once the outcome of the meeting is known the result will be discussed in this newsletter.