Tackle and Tactics
Mike Ladle


Information Page.

Ohiwa harbour.

Alan has sent me a follow up to his last report from New Zealand. His fishing is always very interesting stuff so I'll put it on more or less in full.

Hi Mike,

I hope that you and yours are in the best of health and spirits. I really enjoyed the Pike story on the website. Obviously the weather has taken a turn for the better and you have been able to calm your furrowed brow with a spot of fishing.


Contrary to the Motu River experience, the fishing in Ohiwa Harbour was an enigma. Long fishless periods interspersed with frenetic bursts of activity.

On our first night in Ohope we went for a walk along the harbour edge near the mouth and systematically chatted with three or four anglers that were soaking bait in the margins. The angler closest to the mouth hooked up when we were about 400 metres away on what looked like a Kahawai. It took to the air spectacularly from the outset but was quickly subdued by the large surfcasting rod. As we arrived he returned the fish to the water and to our surprise it was not a Kahawai but a small Eagle ray. I had never seen one of these caught before so it was a memorable first.

I ventured out onto the estuary with my spinning rod on the second evening of our holiday full of anticipation. The cooler evening weather was a welcome respite after a typical sunny day that was hot enough to melt the tar on the roads. We had fish and chips for dinner on the sand near the Ohiwa wharf and the team fished with bait from the wharf afterwards while I headed up harbour to spin the channels. I did not have so much as a touch in the hour that I fished before darkness fell and the bait anglers on the wharf reported a similar tale of woe.

The next day we decided to travel east to Opotoki to get a bead on the best places to fish in the harbour. Once again the day was stunning. Clear blue skies with the odd tuft of cloud to break the monotony and temperatures hovering around 28 – 30 degrees C. The only thing taking the edge off the incessant heat was an onshore zephyr. High tide was around 1.00 pm which coincided nicely with the time we reached the eastern sandspit of the harbour mouth. As we parked the car under a tree I noticed that there was a shoal of small Trevally patrolling the margins of a tidal lagoon inside the harbour and set forth to have a few casts while picnic blanket was unfurled and lunch set out. These fish had seen a lure before and calmly finned into deeper water as soon as the lure buzzed past their noses. I gave up quickly and after a dozen casts I ambled back to the car for lunch.

After lunch I set out over the sand dunes for half-a-dozen casts at the mouth proper before continuing on our journey east. When I got to the main channel there was a Maori family fishing and they had not touched a fish. Eyebrows were raised at the apparently frailty of my spinning tackle but they wished me luck and indicated that the action would start soon as the outgoing tide started to gather momentum. Hearing this, I gave them space and moved upstream to cast where the tide flow had started to create an eddy. I cast carefully and watched the Yo-Zuri Crystal Vibe lure rocket out to the edge of the fast flowing water. Upon touch down, I clicked over the bail arm and immediately came up tight on a Kahawai. You could hear the dull thud of syncopated jaw dropping from my newly acquainted angling colleagues as the reel screeched in protest. The fish was not large but the first run from 2 lb of feisty Kahawai heading out to sea with the tide was exciting. The fight was short and sweet as once I applied side strain the pressure from the Okuma rod forced the Kahawai into the slack water where it came quickly to the shore. I released the fish, had a couple more fruitless casts and headed back to the car. I think the Maori fishermen must have spent the rest of the afternoon looking for the marks left by my spaceship!

Buoyed by this success, I decided that the best plan was to prospect the next day with my spinning rod on the Western side of the harbour mouth where we had seen the eagle ray caught. Low tide was early morning so I set forth after breakfast to fish the incoming tide. As I set out from the carpark, most of the early morning anglers were returning to their cars and all were fishless. I started casting near the car and systematically fished the margins up to a point about 500 metres from the mouth. 1.5 hours of steady toil yielded a clump of weed and a couple of shells. Back to the drawing board!

I went out again the following morning slightly earlier but in the same place. Instead of working towards the mouth, I started casting where I had finished the previous day. Nothing came to the lure in the first hour or so but as I turned the corner and got to the harbour mouth I noticed that the outgoing tide had formed a rip over a shallow sandbar and beside this rip (see photograph) was a deep hole. This spot screamed “Jackpot!” I hooked Kahawai that were mirror images of the fish caught on the other side of the harbour on casts 1 and 3. Both fish smacked the lure immediately upon touchdown and by the time I had wound in the slack were well off towards the sea with the current. Unfortunately it was easy to subdue the kahawai once the initial flurry was over and the fish were coerced into the deeper still hole with side strain. The session lasted for another hour and I caught another two fish that were slightly smaller than the first. Interestingly these both took close together as the lure was descending through the water column. In hindsight, the fish may well have been moving through in schools and the commotion caused by the hooked fish was enough to persuade each school to move further out into the main harbour channel.

We decided to take out the boat while the weather stayed settled so the next time I went spin fishing was about four days later. Again I targeted the harbour mouth “honey hole” and caught a couple of small Kahawai on the Yo-Zuri 3D Crystal Vibe bibless minnow early in the session. This time there was no action for over an hour, despite a couple of lure changes, so I packed up and set off home. Imagine my surprise when I took a short cut through the storm washed flotsam and jetsam above the high tide line to stumble upon a badly tangled Mullet net complete with anchors and milk bottle buoys. It was fairly new and in excellent condition so I picked it up and trudged back slowly to the car. The net was heavy with sand and progress in the hot midday sun was slow. Images of boat towing from the movie “African Queen” kept on popping into my head. Unsurprisingly I stopped frequently for breaks. By the time I reached the spot where the eagle ray had been caught sweat was pouring from every pore so I decided to tie on an L-Minnow and have a few casts to cool down. Second drift through an eddy beside the main channel and the lure was hammered by another small Kahawai. It bored deep and shook its head frantically but uncharacteristically did not pull much line from the reel. It was released to fight another day.

The net took a couple of days to untangle and had remarkably few holes. It has been stored at Whangamata for Ivan to repair later.


Everyone was keen to take out the boat on the harbour on an evening as this allowed the day to be devoted to Kayak surfing and swimming in the sea which was always rough due to onshore breezes.

The first two sessions were dominated by catches of baitfish (yellow eyed mullet, jack mackerel) on squid baited Sabiki jigs. I decided to fish a half a jack Mackerel on a running rig in the hope of catching a large Snapper in one of the deep holes near the harbour mouth. Nothing happen for about an-hour-and-a-half until suddenly the line started to tighten and move off in a different direction. I struck hard, came up solid and just about had my arms wrenched from their sockets as a large fish dragged braid from my baitcaster at a serious rate. There was no head shaking just steady pressure interspersed with short searing runs. I correctly picked it for a large stingray and it lead us a merry dance for 10 minutes until we finally saw colour and drew it close to the boat for release. The stingray measured around 1.5 metres from wing tip to wing tip.

The final session was very slow and we could not even buy a baitfish. This generally means one thing …sharks. After about 30 minutes Tim finally got a bite and struck hard. The fish obviously thought “bugger this!” and struck hard back. He got a major shock as the rod loaded up and line disappeared steadily against a firm drag setting. Luckily for him it was only a small Hammerhead shark (1.5 metres) and he managed to get it under control fairly quickly. Interestingly sometime later Tim spotted a 3+ metre bronze whaler shark nonchalantly heading out to sea. There was a 2’ chop in the harbour and the dorsal fin tip never submerged as it finned past with the current. My guess is that the dorsal fin would easily have been 1 metre tall. If Tim had hooked this it would have been bloody exciting! There have been heaps of shark sightings over summer due to the abnormally warm weather and strong onshore breezes forcing warm oceanic currents close to shore.

One thing that I did discover over the holiday is how to turn yellow eyed mullet and jack mackerel into Kippers. Split, coated with a 50:50 mixture of brown sugar and salt, stored in the refrigerator for 24 hours and smoked with Manuka sawdust in a portable smoker for 15 minutes they were fit to die for! It was depressing to think that for years we have been using these fish for bait.

I must away as Sandy is calling me down for lunch. Please give our best wishes to Lilian. Stay safe and tight lines.

Alan Bulmer

If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you.'get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to - docladle@hotmail.com

The rip.

It just shouts 'fish'.'

Mullet net

I don't think I'd have fancied untangling that.'


Nicely hooked on the little plug.'


What a cracking fish.'