For a lot of fishos in the upper North Island, land-based fishing in Wellington is thought of as being just cold weather, high winds and nothing but red cod, kahawai and sharks.
There’s some truth to the first part but what a lot of people don’t know is that the land-based fishing is far more accessible, more varied and more productive than Auckland, without having to travel miles out of the city.
And while it might be a bit colder, that’s nothing a good Swanni, a cheeky rum and maybe a campfire on the beach won’t solve!
Local land-based fishing in and around the city in Auckland is, generally, pretty poor these days.
Sure, there are a few good snapper caught off the wharves every year and there are a few local spots where the odd smaller king gets taken, but let’s compare that with local fishing down in the capital: you’ll be genuinely surprised.
Figuring it out
As with anywhere new, you’ve got to start off with a certain amount of figuring it out for yourself, but there’s no substitute for good local knowledge too, and I was lucky enough to get to know Pete Lamb, and through the shop, charter trips and comps, to get to meet and share info with a lot of local fishos. (Check out Pete Lamb's weekly Wellington reports)
My one abiding regret was never having become an active member of Wellington Surfcasting & Angling Club and I’d encourage anyone wanting to get to grips with surfcasting and land-based fishing in the region to look them up.
I lived almost directly opposite the beach at Island Bay, so getting an up-to-date forecast was no harder than opening the curtains each morning. It did of course mean that some days the temptation to fish was just too much, and the occasional mental health day was required from work.
But I find if you bring in a few fresh fish fillets every so often, things like this get overlooked!
Wellington’s south coast is as rugged a piece of coast as you’ll find, and in a decent southerly we’d just stay well away from fishing it, but as soon as the weather turned round to the common NW we’d be out there targeting a wide range of species.
Depending on where I’d fish off the shore, there could be terakihi, kahawai, red cod, gurnard, blue cod, trevally, blue moki, various species of shark as well as snapper and kingfish.
Obviously such a range of species means a range of baits, techniques and spots.
Land-based fishing in Wellington might not be the first thing you think of, but next time you get a chance to, definitely give it a go.
It’s a fantastic region with a huge range of diversity of locations and species, requiring a whole lot of different methods and approaches.
I have a fully-fledged LBG addiction which sees me travelling all over New Zealand to all the bucket-list spots, and it’s land-based that started it all off.
Hell’s gate - the iconic entrance into wellington’s most prestigious coast.
Forsyth’s favourite Wellington spots
See bottom for map
OK, so this isn’t strictly speaking in town, but one of my best mates lived out that way and at least once a week we’d be down on the beach there catching fish, having a fire in winter, and doing what all fishos do: swapping fishing lies until the next bite hit! Baits would be pilchards (normally in cubes on ledger rigs), squid, salted bonito and that would do us for most species.
But then we’d get into fancier baits, particularly for the blue moki. Various shellfish were always a favourite, particularly as these fantastic sport fish come in pretty close in the dark and a long cast isn’t needed and, as I used to do so much diving, there was always a bit of cray available if required!
Then for the sharks there’d also be big crab baits. It’s a great beach for surfcasting with a river mouth at one end, some big rocks in the middle (we always did best fishing to the left of these), and then a bay further round to the left, which is a good spot to get some moki.
Typically we’d catch big kahawai (try a double header of 3kg kahawai some time, it’s awesome), red and blue cod and the odd shark. I’ve also caught gurnard and moki and it’s also the spot where I hooked (and lost) my first decent kingy.
2. Boom Rock
This spot is almost single-handedly responsible for my LBG addiction! She’s a fair old walk from Makara which is the nearest spot you can drive to; memory tells me it felt like four hours but was probably just two, and if you’re into land-based fishing at all, it’s a spot you just have to go and fish.
It gets its name from the noise that the swells make as they hit it and it’s a spot that you need to pick your weather for.
There was a tragic loss of life there in the not-too-distant past, so please remember that there isn’t a fish in the ocean that’s worth that risk.
Having dived around it as well as fished, its easy to see why it provides so many options for the shore-based angler. Snapper and kingfish are a definite target along with all the other staples: cod of both kinds, kahawai, gurnard, barracouta, moki, sharks etc. However it has one real bonus in store: land-based terakihi are abundant and easily targeted with a decent cast out on to a sandy bottom.
I’ve overnighted there a number of times, but with the rock facing straight on to the Cook Straight I’d normally leave it in the middle of the night and get a few hours sleep by a fire where there’s a cave just on the beach behind Boom rock itself.
If I had just one spot I could fish again in the Wellington area, this would be it.
Blue moki are a favourite sport fish in Wellington.
3. Pencarrow Lighthouse
Round from Pencarrow there are a lot of great surfcasting beach options: again it’s a fair walk although it’s a flat track along the coast. I always used to take the mountain bike, which made things much easier.
It’s another spot that would regularly produce the full range of Wellington fish and is one that has fished well for me both during the day and (particularly for moki), the evening.
It was here that our not-so-secret method for getting baits 2-300m off the beach was hatched, and accounted for some really good fish at times.
With the common NW wind blowing over your shoulder (don’t bother fishing it in a southerly), I’d set up a ledger or running rig as normal but then would get balloons, rubber bands and life-saver lollies out of the fishing pack!
One rubber band attaches to the sinker and then to a life-saver mint (bear with me here), then another band attaches the mint to the balloon, inflated really big.
A gentle lob into the water and the balloon is quickly blown way out offshore as the mint dissolves slowly enough for you to be able to fish as far out as you like.
I know it’s a bit of a cheat for the more purist surfcaster, but it’s a great trick, and a real old favourite of mine.
It’s definitely worth giving it a go when you just can’t find the fish in closer.
4. Oriental Parade
One final spot for those who want to stay a little closer to home, or have kids and/or limited time.
I’ve caught snapper and kahawai just fishing straight off Oriental Parade on a summer evening.