The Coromandel is one of New Zealand’s most popular holiday destinations. I’m sure a huge part of this is the fact that it’s a fishing and boating paradise blessed with miles of diverse coastline, hundreds of islands and reefs, and shelter in all but the worst weather conditions.

Working our way around the Coromandel Peninsula in a clockwise fashion, let’s start at Thames. Coromandel’s most populous town is the gateway to the aptly named Firth of Thames. The Firth is a fantastic snapper fishery. Good fishing can be found on the shallow flats with bait and berley when chasing around the squadrons of gannets that work the area every spring, or by hitting the swathes of mussel farms. Heading north along the coastal road from Thames, there are many rocky platforms and beaches for surfcasting action, and several boat launching options – the most popular being at Waikawau.

At Kereta, the road heads inland and upwards until you come to the magnificent vista of the harbours and islands of the Coromandel township. The area is a sheltered fishing playground – snapper are abundant for bait and soft-bait fishers, and kingfish patrol the coast with the ebb and flow of the tide. Numerous well-priced charter boats head out to the mussel farms and park up next to the mussel barges as they are processing. The huge berley trails created can lead to some ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ fishing action! Live-baiting and stick-baiting around the harbour entrances and mussel farms can yield kings throughout the year, although the warmer months are more productive. The water clarity on the western Coromandel isn’t the best for diving, but scallop beds can be found around the islands. A great place to base yourself for a fishing adventure is Anglers Lodge in Amodeo Bay – they offer a tractor boat-launching service, excellent fish cleaning facilities and complimentary entertainment from their big pet eels in the creek!

The top coast of the Coromandel is big fish country for both land-based and boat anglers. There are ledges all along the narrow gravel Port Jackson Bay Road which offer great fishing a few minutes’ walk from the car, especially around Goat Bay. For the more adventurous shore fishers, continue along the same road past Port Jackson, and you’ll find some legendary rock fishing spots such as Northernmost Point, accessed via a steep cliff between Port Jackson and Fletchers Bay, and the Pinnacles, accessed via a hike around the rocks heading east from Fletchers Bay. Although you’re unlikely to encounter the 40kg kingfish that have been captured from these spots in days gone by, there are still some serious fish cruising past. Renowned boat fishing spots in this area include Channel Island, Square Top Island, and Port Jackson reef, and crayfish are around for experienced divers.

As we head down into the eastern Coromandel, we first encounter the lonely coastline between the small settlements of Port Charles and Kennedy Bay. This is a great area for throwing soft-baits into the shore for big snapper, while Lion Rock is a well-known haunt for schooling fish and kingies. South of this shoreline are the white sand beaches (and Aucklanders’ baches) of Whangapoua, Matarangi, Kuaotunu and Opito. There are decent boat launching options and sheltered waters protected by the Mercury Islands. You just need to be careful around the shallow Whangapoua Harbour entrance at low tide.

The nearby townships of Whitianga, Tairua, Pauanui and Whangamata all offer great accommodation, retail, marinas and boat launching facilities. These towns are your gateway to Cuvier Island, Great Mercury Island, the Aldermans and Mayor Island. The fishing options are endless, from targeting big snapper around the shallows, harvesting tarakihi around deeper areas of foul, deep-dropping for hapuku, trolling lures in summer for gamefish, or hunting kingfish along the wealth of pinnacles shown on nautical charts between the 50-100m line. Mackerel are the most popular livebait for the Coromandel’s kingfish, and Mercury Bay is a handy area to begin looking for them with your fish-finder. In summer, kings chase the bait schools around in the bay, so it pays to drop down a livie offering as you’re collecting them.

The diving along the eastern Coromandel is world-class, with clear waters and plenty of marine life. Crayfish and paua can be taken in snorkelling depths from shore or boat dives, and scallop beds are found around Great Mercury and Opito Bay. The Cathedral Cove marine reserve between Cook’s Beach and Hahei is a wonderful snorkelling spot, where you’re likely to encounter big stingrays, tame snapper and inquisitive crayfish. Just don’t be tempted to grab ‘em!

 

Article by: Nick Jones