By Tony Milner



NZ Lifestyle Magazine Group


Hawke Bay, the bay between Mahia Peninsula and Cape Kidnappers, is a tricky passage of water due to its large size and exposure to prevailing northerly winds and easterly swell, so listen out for a forecast of “five knots, variable winds”. Any forecast mentioning easterly winds means forget it. March and April are the most settled months, bringing warm water, calm seas and schools of fish. Boat fishing is all generally via the boat ramp at the Port of Napier, which can get pretty busy on a nice day so carry a big bag of patience and consideration. Without rocks or islands to hold fish, the locals concentrate on depth sounders to find variations in which fish congregate, e.g. the 20m or 50m marks. Boats can be launched from Waimārama Beach, but a tractor is needed. Kayak fishers can launch from the beach at Te Awanga in the right conditions. Use a homemade ledger rig or a flasher rig with squid bait. The warm water brings schools of kingfish, snapper, trevally, and kahawai. Good old barracouta also will be lurking ready to steal shiny new fishing rigs, though they do make good fresh bait. Tarakihi, school sharks and gurnard (which will take a small jig or soft bait) are normally around in the cooler winter months. Watch the wind getting up in the afternoon as there is nowhere to shelter and it's a long slow trip back. Go early and come back early. There's good surfcasting at Ocean Beach and, depending on the time of year, it's possible to catch anything from snapper, kahawai, kingfish and maybe moki or tope. Shore-diving opportunities are on the north side of Cape Kidnappers at an area called Black Reef. Because of the soft papa rock, the water is almost always murky. If the weather allows, there are crayfish and pāua to be caught and maybe a fat blue moki to shoot. Remember that pāua can only be taken only on a snorkel and must be a minimum 125mm in length. Take a free MPI plastic measure so there are no excuses. Shore-casting a spinner for kahawai running into the estuary is a great activity for the kids, and kahawai are perfect for the smoker. There are plenty of rivers for freshwater fishing in the area. Remember that a licence is needed to fish for trout. (See for details.) The Bay has been pillaged by illegal fishing activities so be sensitive to this. If on holiday, take only enough to share a feed with friends and family; there is always tomorrow.