By Tony Milner
NZ Lifestyle Magazine Group
The Manawatū River carves a 180km-long channel on its way southwest through the province, finally arriving at the Tasman Sea just south of Foxton Beach village. The river provides a surprising number of fishing opportunities for both freshwater and saltwater from the source of the river up in the Ruahine Ranges right down to its saltwater estuary. It also offers some respite from the prevailing nor'westerly winds that batter the coastline. Freshwater The river and its many tributaries provide an array of freshwater fishing opportunities for a variety of fishing methods including wet and dry flies, nymphs and spinning. Members of Horowhenua Freshwater Anglers' Club in Levin are a friendly lot, welcoming new members and only too happy to share local knowledge and offer tuition. The club has a riverside hut in which members can overnight for an early start. Local catches of rainbow and brown trout have been in the 1.8kg to 2.7kg range. Contact: John Davenport, (06) 363 6050. Boating Foxton Wharf, on the Manawatū River, is a 30-minute drive from Palmerston North and provides a safe launching ramp and a secure car park for vehicles and trailers. When accessing the sea via the river, boaties need to cross the Foxton Bar, so the usual bar-crossing rules apply; wear a life jacket, take a marine radio, plan to travel the bar at high tide and in a calm sea, and return on a high tide as well. Take advice from the coast guard at the Manawatu Marine Boating Club, (06) 363 8386, mmbc.org.nz Once at sea, there is a mix of species to catch such as kahawai, snapper and gurnard, using many forms of fishing such as stray lining, dropping a rig of choice to the ocean floor. Salted kahawai and squid are good bait. Coastal Like many of Aotearoa's west coast beaches, the Horowhenua district has a long, exposed, windswept sandy coast. A prima facie examination reveals minimal opportunity to cast a line due to strong onshore winds, which cause havoc with any fishing enterprise. Only the hardy will endure and can only succeed with innovation. Locals Tyler Green and Recko Tilbrook (both 14) have a suggestion to beat the wind. “Foxton Wharf on the estuary of the Manawatū River is an amazing place to make new memories with family and friends. It is safe, fairly sheltered and has plenty of space for everyone to spread out. It takes us about 15 minutes to ride our bike with our gear from Recko's house in Foxton.” The best time to fish from the wharf is half an hour either side of high tide. As the tide floods into the estuary, it brings a variety of hungry species all looking for a tasty morsel to snack on. These include kahawai, yellow-eye mullet, spottys, piper, herrings and, in summer, even the odd kingfish. Use surfcasting rods between 3m to 4m in length and a bait rod. Tie a 5/0 or 4/0 size flasher rig on the end and a 140gm to 170gm sinker depending on how strong the tide is. When fishing in the estuary, use a breakaway sinker. Other rig options, such as live baiting, can be used but the simple flasher rig seems the most productive. For smaller baitfish, sabiki rigs with a bit of flash and some small chunks of bait such as squid legs should get a result. Kahawai can't resist pilchard and bonito tied on tight with a bit of bait wrap/ bait cotton. Smaller fish will take almost any bait. There is also the option of casting a soft bait or a hex wobbler lure. Surfcasting from both Tangimoana and Waitārere beaches will provide a decent feed of fish, such as snapper, kahawai and possibly gurnard. Driving on Waitārere Beach is possible as the sand is quite firm but keep to the other vehicle tracks and enter at the main entrance. At Tangimoana, the sand is soft so only drive on the beach in a 4WD. When surfcasting, avoid rips (calm, flat spots on the water), follow the seagulls and cast where they are circling; fish in offshore or wind-free conditions. A good tip is to fish at the low tide when fishers are more likely to reach the dropoffs further out, which hold the bigger fish. Bonito is a favourite bait, but squid, pilchard and salted jack mackerel will also do the trick.