A MOKAU KITEFISHING SAFARI
- By Justin Fox
It was 6pm on Saturday 29th September, I had just been watching “Gone Fishing” when I received a phone call from Geoff Preston the Mokau kite fishing guide, advising me that howling offshore winds were forecast for the following day, full of excitement I told Geoff that I would meet him on the beach at 6am.
I had fished Mokau six times previously and had caught snapper up to 8.5kg. I didn’t know it at the time, but there was one really big Mokau snapper waiting for my arrival, it was to be one of the best kite fishing trips of my life.
I quickly put down the phone and got the green light from the wife before loading the car for a 2am Auckland departure. I arrived in Mokau at 5:30am and had all my gear on the beach when Geoff arrived at 6.00am on his quad bike and told me he had already set his kite rig out and that it had been fishing for around an hour.
Above: Justin Fox (left) and Geoff Preston with the two biggest snapper. The kite is a Mega Mouth from Paul’s Fishing Kites and is the most popular kite for fishing the difficult conditions at Mokau
We loaded my gear onto his quad bike and set off down the beach, he explained that you really need to be careful where you set because there are hidden rocks right along the beach that have claimed many kites and even more electric kontikis. Soon we arrived at one of his favorite spots where he had caught a lot of snapper over 10kg.
I use a Mega Mouth kite - the same as Geoff uses - its got more pull than a freight train and can be flown in really light winds. In no time we had the kite heading out to sea and I baited the special Mokau traces that are made by Geoff. Just about everyone in Mokau uses Geoff’s traces. The commercial power-bait hooks are snelled onto a 50kg trace, which is covered by plastic tubing.
Geoff took one look at my bait and laughed, he explained that the squid should be white in colour and not purple. He said, “If squid is purple like yours, it’s off, and nothing will eat it.”
This was confirmed later when we spoke to a guy who had been using rancid squid earlier in the week and had been catching nothing. Geoff had given him some of his fresh white squid and he landed a 10.5kg snapper the very next day. So we re-baited all my hooks with Geoff’s squid and sent them the full distance offshore (about 2.2km).
With all the gear left fishing, we headed back to Geoff’s place. It’s a lovely little cottage perched high up on the hill in the center of Mokau, I was welcomed by his lovely wife Heidi, who served up fresh coffee and showed me photos of some of Geoff’s huge snapper that he has caught over the past six years, including a pic of his personal best, a 34.5lb monster caught this time last year. Geoff only takes photos of fish over 20lb and his photo album is full of them.
After another fresh cup of coffee we headed back to haul in Geoff’s kite rig, it was only a two-minute ride on Geoff’s quad.
After about 20 minutes we came to the first hook, it had a nice 2kg snapper, then I noticed that just about every hook had either a snapper or gurnard on. By about the ninth hook there was quite a crowd of people starting to gather.
As Geoff was pulling the line back up the beach he felt a distinct “nod nod” which he reckoned meant we had a big snapper on.
About three minutes later Geoff yelled at the top of his voice “there’s the big one”. It’s very entertaining when Geoff sees a big snapper coming in in the surf, you would think that he had just won lotto.
He ran into the surf and grabbed the big fish it by putting his hands through the gills to ensure he couldn’t lose the 10kg plus snapper - the crowd cheered at the size of the snapper - and the fact that you can catch fish like this on a kite. By this time I was starting to wonder about what may be on my line?
But before would could haul my rig in we had to look after the fish we had already caught, we quickly loaded the fish onto the front of the quad and headed back to the house to put them all on ice.
In no time we were back on the beach and pulling my gear in. As we started hauling we could definitely feel that it was heavy, but were unsure what it might be. There were a lot more people on the beach waiting for us to pull the kite in.
After about half an hour we came to the first hook, It was empty so was the second, then as Geoff was pulling the line back up the beach his arms were almost ripped from the sockets, he paused and said “WOW! I think there is a bloody big one on here.” About five minutes later he screams at the top of his voice that there is a huge snapper on.
I left the reel and ran down to the waters edge where I followed the main line into the surf. There were pink and silver flashes through the foaming surf - it was huge - I didn’t hesitate and headed out into deeper water until I got to a position were I could get my hands into the gills of the monster.
I lifted it half out of the water, the crowd of people saw it and cheered. It was so heavy I could hardly lift it with one hand. Finally I managed to get it to the fish bin where I could properly take in its true size. After answering the crowds’ questions we loaded the monster on the front of the quad and headed off to the local pub to weigh it.
We inserted the scales into the fished massive lips and raised it into the air - the imperial scales read a mighty 29.5 pounds, but I think they might have been half a pound out.
Above: It was a real joy to catch such a huge fish in such good company.
We all shook hands and headed back to Geoff’s house. As we arrived Heidi saw the monster and was absolutely delighted for me.
I would like to say a big thank you to Geoff and Heidi Preston for their hospitality and the experience of a lifetime. I have been land-based fishing the east coast for fifteen years and, while I have caught some nice fish, I have never seen anything like this one.
Mokau is a very special place and whether you are new to kite fishing, or you just want to catch a 20lb snapper, give Geoff a call - Ph 06 752-9780. He is a big snapper expert, and is very affordable.
Kayak Fishing from Neill Sperath
It was a reasonably warm, overcast day in Auckland and I spontaneously decided that I needed to do some more “research” for our guided kayak fishing tours, intending to try out some varieties of soft baits that I recently purchased.
I only had a couple of hours and so I went to one of my secret spots just outside of Auckland and went for a paddle. The sea was perfectly calm and since there was a slight current along the coast, I just needed to paddle along the coast against the current and then drift back to the beach from where I launched.
On the second cast my soft bait was pounced on by the magnificent snapper in the photo – what a beauty!! After playing him for about 10 minutes (I normally use very light gear, so care is needed) I landed what this evening I filleted packed and up as 5 meals for my wife and I.
After another hour it was time to go home and on my very last cast (no joke) I landed another beauty, slightly smaller than the one in the photo.
It was a short, intense and very successful morning’s kayak fishing and I’m still buzzing…until next time with booked clients.
I have gone fishing four times in the last week and in each case brought home a very nice catch – so I suggest you grab your kite and try it in the coming weeks before it gets busy.
If you don’t have a kite and/or don’t know how to use the one previously purchased from Paul’s Kites – no problem. Please contact us and we’ll show you how it’s done.
Remember the small investment for a kite and gear can be got back in form of fish (and lots of fun) in a very short time!
Tight lines Neill.
Neill is a very experienced kite and kayak fishing guide. Click the like to book a trip on one of his Outdoor Fishing Adventures