Great Barrier Island – The Best Fishing Spots

Over the years I have received plenty positive feedback from enthusiastic land-based anglers in regards to my blog articles about fishing on Great Barrier Island. Thanks for that! I am always glad to get feedback and don’t only reply to all messages, but try my best to assist those who are about to making their way to Aotea by answering questions and providing suggestions.  In this article, I like to write about something that has been on my mind for a while. Namely, where the best land-based fishing spots are on Great Barrier Island.

I am convinced that recreational land-based fishing (rockfishing) is the most sustainable form of fishing, and that the effect it has on fish stocks is negligible in contrast to recreational boat fishing and of course to any sort of commercial fishing. I had some friendly debates with concerned locals about ‘giving away’ some of the best fishing spots by marking them on a google maps image.

You will have noticed that I have refrained from utilizing such images and also from mentioning specific areas by name. The way I see it, my opinion, is not that people will come all the way from the main land and diminish the fishing stocks here on the Barrier.

My rationale is that people might take liberties when on holiday. Not every fisho is a clean fisho who takes his rubbish out. Not every fisho cares about what is public land and what private. Another reason is that a spot marked on a map does not guarantee that it can actually be reached on foot safely by a fisho who hasn’t been there before. Further, fishos have different comfort zones. It is quite easy to get off the route and wander through private property or, even worse, find yourself in a dodgy situation on a cliff.

Okay, so where are the best land-based fishing spots on Great Barrier Island?

Well, the best spots are those you find yourself and land a feed or that trophy fish. The advice I give to any fisho who is about to embark on a fishing adventure on Great Barrier Island is to forget about the stories you have heard or getting all excited about fishing a spot I, or others, fish.

I once asked on (a great website to share and get information about all types of fishing in New Zealand) before heading to the Barrier for the first time where those magical (best) spots are. The best answer I got was: “Everywhere, just leave it that way.”

I had an amazing (fishing) time, camping on the DOC site in Awana and exploring and fishing. Not only did I catch a feed on every occasion, I even landed a personal best, a 10 pound plus snapper in shallow waters on 10 lbs gear. Man, was I stoked. And it was not just because of the fish; after all, I decided when to go and used my senses rather than somebody else’s directions.

Before heading to the Barrier I got me a chart map, studied it and after arriving, I explored the area. So yeah, when heading to the Island and planning to fish off the rocks. Get yourself a chart map, you can download them for free now from Land Information New Zealand.

And believe me, being dedicated, that is laying out a plan and executing it rather than being all complacent about it, is so much more important than the physical spot you fish.

What I do is:

  • fish around the low tide mark
  • early in the morning is great
  • take burley and plenty bait
  • fish an area that is obviously not hit hard by boats
  • try to get to the headlands of the bay I intend to fish
  • dedicate time for fishing only
  • fish ledges with strong current and deep water, but I am constantly surprised at what other locals land in shallow waters…

Most of the times, you’ll have to fish a certain spot a few times under different conditions until you get a feel for where to cast, and in principle how to fish it. When you are heading to the Barrier for the first time, you won’t have that privilege.

Last but not least, you can drive from where you stay, which is most likely at a bay that holds huge snapper anyway, all over the Island to a spot you’ve been told about and end up catching nothing.

For example, I haven’t fished a certain spot at the Cape Barrier for about half a year now. I just got over the long hike and after struggling to catch even a feed about a handful of times, I decided to keep my fishing activities closer to where I live.

However, if you don’t trust your senses or just don’t have the time to find a decent spot, just have a friendly chat with a local nearby once you’re here.

Good luck, tight lines and drop me a line about your intentions or a picture of your catch. Cheers, Ben (Island) Assado

4 thoughts on “Great Barrier Island – The Best Fishing Spots”

  1. You get back to that bloody Cape man and catch me some fish. Otherwise I’ll have to drag you there kicking and screaming! Very diplomatic article. And in truth a good fish can be anywhere, and that is most likely the spot where no-one else has cast a line recently.

    There are some excellent spots on the Barrier accessed from walking tracks as long as you are prepared to put in some effort to get there and pick the right conditions. I’m still fantasizing about one I haven’t managed to fish yet. It’s one of the things that keeps me wanting to come back.

    If the only permitted form of fishing was landbased, the oceans would be the picture of abundance…..

    Paul xxxxx

    1. Hey Paul, the Cape is cursed mate. Then again, maybe all the snapper have found their way into the cray-pots. It is bloody challenging to catch a feed there. The ledge looks so promising from afar, and surely there’ll be some kingis but yeah, challenging spot.

      Hearing good stories about Harataonga though. Went to yet another new spot yesterday. Unfortunately, the wind was crap and we had
      to settle for a very shallow spot. It’s been a while since I went fishing, and I mucked things up properly.

      First, a snapper I had hooked and felt sure about, lost it to the weeds. Then, I spot a kahawai, tell the others, through a squid head
      at it, get my rod, hook it and then lose it as I lifted the fish out of the water way too early. Hmmm, then I see all these massive
      piper. So, I catch one, just bloody one, but hey, it was massive and a great swimmer. So off it went out under a float on my snapper
      gear. The line of thought was, this is how I will catch a snapper in these waters. But I also had all my kingi gear with me. Seriously,
      heaps of foul, about 2 meters depth up to about 4 meters in my casting distance.

      So the piper swims really strongly against wind and current and all, suddenly – after about 30 min – the float disappears for 3-4 seconds, then flops back up. I have a close look and see this massive kingfish. When I say massive, it looked 30 lbs+ easy, it was
      freakin’ keen alright. I bet it swallowed the piper and then spat it out. I kept waiting and pointing at it, it came back had another go
      and but not really, and then my piper got stuck in some foul and all was over….

      I went home without a single fish…. B

  2. Ah Ben you should always use your heavy gear for the livebait. You definately know better than this. Very lucky you didn’t hook that kingi and get bust off. They sure love piper though. Harotaonga – don’t talk to me about Harotaonga. Unless it’s to tell me you got down to my ledge. I bet all the boats nail that spot anyway! Winter is drawing in here in UK and I last went fishing six weeks ago. I reckon the next time I go fishing now, it will be with you! Paul xxxxx

    1. Yeah, very shallow water and heaps of foul, but then again I would have jumped into the water to get that fish. Talking to a few young lads and other keen fishos and bizarrely, everyone says this particular area if full of kingis. So yeah, once the wind is right, I’ll
      have a look. Hey, we could camp for a while in harataonga when you’re over, the only person living there and running the farm is one of my favourite locals and he sure wouldn’t mind some kingi. Could be an idea. B

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