Reading Time: 9 minutes
You’d be hard-pressed to find a local who hasn’t been fishing in Auckland at some point in their lives. Balancing between two seas and curling around two harbours, the ‘City of Sails’ gets its lifeblood from the waters that surround it. More households own a boat here than anywhere else in the world and there’s hardly a more popular dish than locally-caught fish and chips.
Auckland is frequently voted the most liveable city in the world. The quality and quantity of fish within casting distance makes it one of the most fishable, too. So whether you’re fishing Auckland’s harbours or taking a boat out to sea, you’re in for a treat. And by the time you’re done reading, you’ll see why so many people like it here.
Types of Fish in Auckland
A third of the world’s marine mammal species come to the Hauraki Gulf at some point in their lives. And many are permanent residents. They’re here for one reason – abundant fish stocks. That’s why we’re here, too.
The fish Auckland has on its doorstep range from tasty Snappers to boisterous Kingfish. Travel further out, and pelagics swim in the same waters that large Hapuka lurk beneath. Inland, coarse and game fish keep freshwater anglers busy all year long. Here are some of the top targets.
Many Aucklanders are best acquainted with Pink Snapper when they’re covered in grease and served with chips. But the living, swimming variety are just as impressive.
You can fish for Snapper all year round in Auckland. But things get really exciting in early spring. The season picks up in earnest in September when the first big feeders arrive from the Hauraki Gulf. As spring progresses, large schools of medium-sized fish join them, feeding up like crazy in preparation to spawn.
From November to mid-April, they flood into the Inner Harbour, seeking out shallow waters to spawn in. Once they’re done, they’re ravenously hungry, making mid-January to mid-April the best time to catch Snapper in shallow water. By May, there are far fewer of them about, but patient anglers may land a moocher even in the coldest months.
What Snappers offer in numbers, Southern Yellowtail (aka Kingfish) have in sportfishing potential. These mouth-watering speedsters give Snappers a run for their money in any popularity contest. And you can also find them within minutes of Auckland CBD.
Just like Snappers, Kingfish tend to come into the shallower waters during the warmer months. They spawn in deep water in late winter, arriving at the coast from December to May. But you can still find the occasional Kingi cruising around Auckland’s harbour in colder weather. The biggest Kingfish in the world was caught in New Zealand waters, but the average size around Auckland is about 80–90 centimetres (roughly 2.5 feet).
The North Island of New Zealand is practically synonymous with Striped Marlin. And while catches out of Auckland are comparably rare, you’ll still find people chasing them into deeper waters, with heavy trolling gear at the ready. Most Marlin fishing in Auckland happens between late December and late May, but you occasionally hear of Striped, Blue, and even Black Marlin hookups outside of the main summer season.
Have you noticed strange black patches appearing on Auckland’s wharves? It’s not an alien invasion. It’s Squid. Auckland Squid fishing has exploded in popularity over the last couple of years, as ever-increasing numbers of locals started hunting out their own fresh calamari.
Squid aren’t really fish, so it’s hardly surprising that catching them is very specialised. Most people use extremely lightweight rods and a special technique called ‘eging’ – a Japanese-inspired method of imitating injured bait fish with special lures.
This is mainly a winter pastime. The first cephalopods appear in Auckland in April and the Squid fishing season peaks from August to November. You can usually still find them until January, though.
If freshwater fishing is more your vibe, look no further. There are several excellent places to go Trout fishing near Auckland. Lake Pupuke is regularly stocked with Rainbow Trout as well as the occasional Brown Trout. A little further afield, tiny Parkinson’s Lake has a healthy population of Rainbow Trout, while the Mangatangi and Mangatawhiri Reservoirs are home to their own wild Rainbows. The Waikato River is a popular Brown Trout fishing destination, particularly at the Karapiro Dam south of Hamilton.
Auckland’s two harbours also hold a sizeable population of Gurnards, as well as delicious Piper (Garfish), Trevallies, and energetic Kahawai. Sail into the Gulf, and you might find delicious John Dory and huge Hapuka. Flounder thrive around local channels and mudflats, while Mahi Mahi, Tuna, and even Swordfish swim in the deeper waters beyond Coromandel.
How to Go Fishing in Auckland
If you think there are a lot of fish around Auckland, just wait and see how many ways there are to catch them. Good old-fashioned rods and reels still have a place on local shorelines and wharves, but this is far from your only option. Here are some of the most popular ways to hook a keeper.
The fishing charters Auckland harbours – pun intended – are about as varied as the people who come aboard. From utilitarian crafts to luxury sportfishing yachts, there’s something here for every taste and budget. But what they all have in common is experienced crews that know how to introduce newcomers and old salts to this fabulous fishery.
Fishing trips in Auckland range from a half day in the harbour to overnight deep sea fishing expeditions to the Great Barrier Island and beyond. It’s common for boats to include a barbecue as well as the full gamut of fishing gear, catering equally to stag parties and serious fishos.
Want to fish unexplored waters deep out to sea but also be back in time for dinner? It’s time to swap your boat for a helicopter! Heli fishing from Auckland takes you to the most remote parts of the Hauraki Gulf’s barrier islands. Here, you perch atop otherwise inaccessible rocks and cast out into the depths. Monster Kingfish and giant Snapper are just a couple of the top targets.
This experience is about more than fishing. The bird’s eye views of the city, its surrounding waters, and the marine wildlife are simply unforgettable.
Closer to home, fly fishing in Auckland is almost as wild an experience as you’d get on the other side of Coromandel. And we aren’t just talking about chasing Rainbow Trout in lakes and streams. Saltwater fly fishing is gaining a dedicated following here, thanks to the enticing shallows and flats within easy reach of the city.
Most of the action happens in the mudflats and channels in the western part of the Waitemata Harbour. The shallow water here makes the harbour almost more suited to fly fishing than anything else! Kahawai, Snappers, and even Kingfish are all prone to attack a carefully placed fly.
One frustrating thing about Snappers is their ability to speed into rocky hiding places as soon as you set the hook. Fish from a kayak, and this gets much harder for them.
Kayak fishing in Auckland works much the same as fishing from a regular boat, with one important difference. You stay right on top of the fish, wherever they run. That’s partly why it’s so popular here. And, like a helicopter, a kayak can take you to remote land-based fishing areas – but at a fraction of the cost.
You don’t need to own or even charter a boat to enjoy fishing in Auckland. The city’s extensive flats and big fish make shore fishing not only possible, but very rewarding. Numerous wharves extend your land-based fishing options into deeper waters, while almost every local angler has a secret rock fishing spot somewhere along Auckland’s coastline. A growing drone fishing community is even joining Auckland kite fishers in getting baits out into deeper waters!
If we had to choose a place to start, we’d probably go for Cornwallis Wharf in Manukau Harbour or Shelly Beach Wharf in Kaipara Harbour. Both are highly accessible and offer the chance to land a real monster.
Fishing Spots in Auckland
It’s all very well knowing what and how to fish, but where do you start? That depends on the type of experience you’re looking for and how much time you have on your hands. We’ll walk through the main fishing spots Auckland has access to so you can get ready to plan your trip.
Often referred to simply as ‘Auckland Harbour’, Waitemata is actually one of two harbours in the city. But this is the one that gets all the attention. Cruise ships and ferries join tourist boats, fishing vessels, and sailing ships in this busy thoroughfare, all overlooked by Auckland’s skyscrapers. For some reason, this doesn’t put the fish off. Far from it, actually…
Most people who fish the inner harbour launch from Westhaven. This is the perfect starting point for a quick spring Snapper expedition. You’re likely to start off by fishing under Auckland Harbour Bridge, a famous Snapper spot that you can also access from land by walking along Curon Street.
If you have your sights set on Kingfish, try the Rangitoto Channel at the mouth of the harbour. Fishing around here and in the inner harbour is generally best around the change of light.
Travel south and you’ll reach Manukau Harbour, the second-largest natural harbour in New Zealand. Despite its size, it’s much quieter than Waitemata Harbour. 10 million years’ worth of sediment has made it very shallow – and rather muddy. It can also be difficult to navigate in bad weather and requires expert skills to exit.
But don’t let that put you off. These silty waters are full of bait and attract Mullet, Piper, Gurnard, and Kahawai. Fish around the southern Waiuku Channel or from Cornwallis Wharf for a good chance of Kahawai and Gurnard. Mangere Bridge is another proven Kahawai spot, while fishing from the rocks at Whatipu beyond Manukau Heads can put adventurous anglers in the path of travelling Snapper, Kingfish, and even Sharks.
The harbours characterise Auckland’s inner city, but the Hauraki Gulf connects it with the wider world. Dolphins, whales, and all sorts of birds migrate through here, while the reefs and barrier islands create perfect conditions for bait fish and their predators. This is where Auckland fishing gets really exciting, where dolphins chase bait to the surface of the water, birds descend, and Snappers join in on the action. These ‘work-ups’ are thrilling to fish and show off the marine world at its best.
Fish around the inner islands from the beginning of May to see this in motion. The waters around Waiheke, Rangitoto, and Motuihe are famous for their work-ups, while big Kingfish swim around Rakino and Gannet Rock (off Waiheke Island).
Further out, the bird sanctuary of Tiritiri Matangi is a beautiful place to target Snapper, Kingfish, and Trevally. Keep going, and the Great Barrier Island is more than worth the long trip out. The west is a Snapper magnet and the other side looks out onto the playground of huge Hapuku, Swordfish, Marlin, and Yellowfin Tuna.
Auckland’s wild west coast is reserved for diehard fishing crews. Crossing Manukau Harbour’s bar into the Tasman Sea is challenging enough. Once you’re there, the conditions don’t let up.
But the rewards are worth it. As well as huge Kingfish and Snapper, Albacore and Skipjack Tuna come quite close to shore in the summer. Travel around 40 kilometres (25 miles) to the continental shelf, and you’ll be in Marlin territory!
Rules and Regulations
If you’re fishing for freshwater sport fish such as Trout and Perch, you need to purchase a fishing licence. These vary in price depending on whether or not you’re a New Zealand resident and the period you want the licence to cover.
You don’t need a licence to fish in saltwater in Auckland, but you should check bag and size limits before you get out on the water. Fish with a legitimate charter operator, however, and they’ll make sure you stay on the right side of the law.
Set Sail to the City and Find a Fish to Surprise You
Lifetime angler or total rookie – the City of Sails has a knack for serving up the unexpected. Whether you’re reeling in your first-ever Snapper or fighting a Kingi on the fly in the centre of the city, fishing Auckland’s waters will give you something to remember. So come on down to the big city and say hello to some of the world’s wildest marine life.
Are you a fan of fishing in Auckland? What’s your favourite target? Let us know in the comments below!
Title: Auckland Fishing: The Complete Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/auckand-fishing/
Published Date: Fri, 06 Oct 2023 12:14:48 +0000