Rockfishing at The Cape

It has been very wet here on the Barrier lately. Constant showers and heavy rainfalls over the last weeks have transformed my driveway into a muddy and slippery adventure track. This combination of wetness and greyness can affect the mood a bit and I had been spending a couple of the previous weekends at home, reading the paper and enjoying the warmth and dryness of the fire place. Boooooring, I can tell you. This weekend, however, in spite of more rain, I was quite active working on the land on Saturday and fishing off the rocks on Sunday. Sinclair, a mate I met through work, also a keen fisherman, suggested we should head out to Cape Barrier and fish the famous ‘rod-holder’ spot. Cape Barrier is well known for producing XOS Snapper, Kingfish and Trevally. The particular ledge we fished, see Google Maps at the top, boasts deep water and a massive current. It is very exposed to any southerly winds and swells, but conditions were good for today and we met at 0630. Obviously it was still dark and quite early on a Sunday morning, but we were both very eager to get out there, and I like an early start. This means that when you’re finished fishing and get back home it is still early…

Anyway, we knocked down a good morning beer and arrived at the car park at the end of Cape Barrier road at around 7-ish. A bit more than half of an hour of walking through the steep and muddy coastline, a bit of a climb down slippery rocks and we were standing on the ledge and had the first baits in the water.

A bit of an easterly swell on an overcast/rainy day at Cape Barrier
We fished the right hand side of this ledge.
Conditions were good, a bit wet, but otherwise comfortable.

Neither Sinclair nor I were able to get any berley as the shops had ran out, but we had plenty of pilchards and squid for bait. It didn’t take long at all and we were both hooking up on pan-sized snapper. After half an hour we had landed a few of them and I suppose we both knew that more was to come. We were hoping for big fish, after all it is such a remote and productive spot.

Suddenly, I had lost track of time but we hadn’t been there an hour yet, I noticed that Sinclair had a good fish on. Something was missing though. It was only after it was landed that I realized his reel didn’t make any noise when the fish was pulling line. He has got the latest Shimano Baitrunner and although he claims that something is broken, I think he just put it into stealth/silence mode… hehe So yeah, it was quite out of it, he was clearly fighting a fish, but his reel made no noise, he was very calm and quite for that matter himself. I was about to cast a line out but decided to get ready in case he needs assistance landing the fish. However, since Sinclair was so quiet I didn’t expect a big fish on the end of the line. Usually, when someone hooks up to a good sized fish, there is a lot of commotion. It goes a bit like this: ‘Wooooow, I’m on mate. I’m on! This is a monster!’ (This, or something very similar is repeated a few times.) Then comes the guessing part. ‘This isn’t a snapper, must be a big shark, wow, it’s pulling out so much line.’ Then comes the landing part. ‘Quick! Get the net, get the gaff, don’t lose my fish. You better not lose him, quick, get him, what are you waiting for?…’

Well, not Sinclair though. He didn’t spoke speak at all. I asked him, if he had spotted the fish yet, if he had seen any color and he merely replied: ‘No, not yet.’ And then I saw some color, clearly a snapper and clearly 10 pound plus. I grabbed the rag and managed to grab the leader with the other hand. A net or gaff would have been very useful, but all I had was the rag and after an awkward moment I was able to secure the fish with one hand on the tail and the other on the leader. I’ve got to give it to Sinclair, he focused on landing the fish, didn’t muck about and after the fish was landed, he, finally, showed some of the typical emotions involved in landing big fish off the rocks.

Sinclair with a beautiful snapper off the rocks. We estimated it at 13 pound. She was slightly over 15 pound on the scales.

However, it wasn’t enough for Sinclair to catch the biggest fish of the day by far, he had to also outpoint me on catching the greatest variety of fish for the day. Well, I had no variety at all, just landed 2 snapper. He caught 2 kahawai, a sweep, a big blue maomao and almost got a squid, too. I’m quite sure I saw a seal close by the rocks though.

Not a bad trade. A couple of squid for a couple of pannies.

What a great day, the early start was well worth it, we had a good crack, and by 1000 o’clock we had packed in our gear and were heading back to the car.

On the way back, Sinclair sitting amongst the rocks and taking it easy.

It was a great fishing adventure and we almost escaped the rain as well. But only almost…

After a great morning fishing, we even enjoyed the rain on the walk back to the car.

A great morning, next time we’ll be taking some berely and we might even live-bait. I’ve got two more pictures for you, and I will be enjoying one of those snapper.

Not a bad shot, I think.
At least it ain’t muddy. Touch wood, haven’t slipped and fallen yet…

8 thoughts on “Rockfishing at The Cape”

  1. Man your site looks muddy! I guess you aren’t taking the car up! It’s been like that all summer here, so I know what you mean about depressing weather…

    That is a cracking fish, possibly a little bigger than I’d like to eat, but a really good catch. At least you managed to get there, and got rewarded for it.

    Keep up the good work, and remember big snapper eat livebaits too!

    Paul xxxxx

    1. Heya Paul, haven’t taken the car up since ages mate. Use the quad all the time. Yeah, the fish hit the scales at 7kg, so 15 pounds and was a good catch indeed. We had plans to go fishing this morning, but I ended up in the pub and a 0630 start was out of question. Let’s see, maybe tomorrow. Apropos big fish, I’ve got a bit of a complaint about publishing the fishing spots online. It’s all not too bad really and I can see the perspective of the complainant(s). It is a shitty kind of feeling when you get to a ledge, realizing that others have beaten you to it. It’s also shitty if you own coastal property and more and more people end up fishing ‘your bay’. However, at the end of the day all reasons for such complaint are purely selfish. Dedicated, recreational rock-fishermen will not decimate the fisheries, will not decrease the chances of future generations to catch fish (FOOD) off the rocks. It is the quota-system introduced by the Ministry of Fisheries, the consumers who buy fish or order fish at restaurants and the government that makes sure that the fisheries is an economically sustainable (not ecologically) form of income. There is one crayfish quota on the island. This means only one person, one business is allowed to catch crayfish and to sell them. The guy himself is a cool dude and lives close to me, every time we chat about crayfish he confirms that he also catches many big 10 pound plus snapper that squeeze themselves into his cray pots and obviously can’t get out anymore. I wonder how many big fish he takes unintentionally.

  2. Dear Ben my surviving hero! I still don’t have a plan to visit you but can’t wait to see you again on Benisland sometimes! I’m a regular visitor on your web side – great pictures though! I really love to see what you up too. Anyway, did you notice that the rock “Cape Barrier 621” looks like a cow – a stone carver couldn’t do any better job 😉 Take care and talk to you soon again – let me know if you need something from the EU. Will try to help wherever I can 🙂 JO

    1. Hey Yosen-Bosen, good to hear from you, happy you follow Benisland.co.nz. Mate, I’m looking at the picture ‘621’ and I suppose you can say the rock look likes a cow, but does it really? Perhaps I’m a bit slow at the moment, had a big night yesterday and managed to fall off the quad. Quite lucky actually I didn’t hurt myself, got a nice cut on the chin though. Looking forward to seeing you over here one day. You take care too, B

  3. Hi mate.

    To a point I can see any complaint of publishing spots is a little justified as I remember my ledge in the Coromandel which was very rarely fished until I shared it with a certain person who shared it with others and then I could never get on it! I’m more careful now. But morally it’s the right thing to do, share info that may give someone the catch of a lifetime…

    Line fishing from the rocks is pretty much the most sustainable and least environmentally damaging fishing out there. Yes big fish are taken but rarely, and a spot 100m further along will maybe never get fished as it’s inaccessible on foot. More damaging is boat after boat drifting along the shore in close, picking fish from the wash or anchoring on small inshore reefs. And clearly the totally unsustainable commercial fishing taking place out there (Where have all those yellowfin tuna gone?) is the real problem. I wouldn’t shun the idea of a few more marine reserves though eh?

    Good work mate, keep it up, Paul xxxxx

    1. Thanks for this comment Paul. Well, I decided to highlight the area I fished on Google Maps, but not to specifically mark the fishing spot. I don’t want to upset people from the community and hopefully this is a good compromise.

  4. To be fair mate, any rockfisherman worth his salt will use the tools at his disposal (maps in the early days, and now google earth) to view potential fishing spots and then figure a way in. As a rule I always seek permission to cross any private land and as a result have struck up a few relationships which benefit both parties. No means no and if it’s no then fish somewhere else!

    There is also the hard work factor: I see people crowding “armchair” fishing spots when for a 30 minute walk not far away you can have the rocks to yourself. Most people although they like the idea of looking at remote spots will never get off their asses and get in there…

    Paul xxxxx

    1. I fully agree Paul. Rockfishing is (a) sport and we all can improve our skills by practicing, trying new techniques out and pushing ourselves. A couple days ago, an 80 year old man, keen and active fisherman though, caught an almost 30 pound snapper, using a handline – this is all he ever uses to fish – close to the rocks in Tryphena harbor. Part of the skill is also being able to catch good fish without having to go far, and that is part of the beauty of Great Barrier Island. The fishing can be extremely good almost anywhere…

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