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Jigging hotspots - The Bay of plenty

December 19, 2019
Jigging hotspots - The Bay of plenty

A region famous for it’s jigging, Aaron Levien shares some top jigging spots to try in the Bay of Plenty. This article looks at general locations to help put you and your mates onto those addictive line-stripping yellowtail kingfish from Mayor Island to White Island.

For me there is nothing more satisfying than putting your mates on top of those hoodlums and seeing them spend quality time with the well-known “rail” – and of course the odd bit of banter that follows when you see them stretched across the side of your boat.

The majestic White Island

The fish in the areas provided will test you and your gear – entry level gear or high-end goods alike, you will want to make sure knots, braid weight, and tackle gear are up to the task of chasing kingfish. If there is any fault in any part of your weaponry, these fish will find it – and it will all end in tears. If you’re not sure of your gear, head down to your local fishing and tackle shop for help and advice.

Bay of Plenty Region

To get the ball rolling we will kick off just south of Mayor Island before continuing down the coast to White Island.

Starting off, I cannot iterate enough that structure is always the first starting point for me whether I’m in new grounds or my usual “backyard”. We will look for that structure and navigate that area looking for the right sign.

1.Penguin Shoal

This is a structure around 15 nmi out from Tauranga, almost bearing directly for Mayor Island. What I like about this spot is that if leaving from Tauranga, it’s virtually on the way to Mayor Island and it’s rather shallow at around the 40 metre mark. I often stop off for a sneaky Jig on the way to and from Mayor.

You just never know what you may stumble across. Use your finder to locate your target and complete a couple of drifts. If you are not successful, move on. This spot breaks up the trip to Mayor Island nicely.


2.Rangitira Knoll

This area is somewhat far away, but the “Rangatiras” can really provide you that once in a life time fish – if conditions play ball. Rangatira Knoll is 45 nmi from Tauranga or 27 nmi from Mayor Island heading east. It is a large reef rising from 1000 m right up to 115 m at its peak, and there’s a lot a tidal movement pushing up onto it.

My biggest recommendation for this spot is to check the weather and then recheck this again. Make sure you have adequate fuel, have notified your local coastguard and of course someone back on land of your plans. I wouldn’t recommend this spot to be attacked first, as not only are there some serious fish out here, you are also a rather long way from home or help if anything was to happen. I would also seriously consider having experienced crew onboard and some knowledge of the area.

3. Pudney Rock

This is a lone rock situated approximately 10 nmi northeast of the Tauranga Harbour entrance. This rock comes up to around 20 m at its peak out of 55 m of water. Best results are had by jigging the edges of the rock where the rock meets the sand.

Keep an eye out for the kahawai schools which frequent this rock, as the kingfish are never far behind them. Jigging the edges of the kahawai schools can also produce some great results. Try using more fluttery-like jigs here as it is shallow and this will help entice the bite on those tougher days.


4. A Beacon aka "A Buoy"

“A” Beacon is the main navigation beacon approximately 2 nmi from the harbour entrance. Get in close to the beacon and look for scattered sign. It is only about 20 m deep here, so light fluttery jigs are the go.

Don’t be fooled by the shape of the beacon above the water, as below the water it has supports which spread out like fingers on your hand pressed downward on a table. Many good kingfish have been lost to these supports, not to mention the odd jig or two. If two of you are on the boat it is best to have the captain drive you away from the structure once hooked up. This will improve your chances of landing the fish.

Also please be considerate of other boaties and of course large port vessels and cruise ships coming to and from port.

5. Volkner Rocks

This is one of my favourite spots to jig and for good reason! At certain times during the year this place will fire unbelievably well, so it pays to keep up to date with social media and fishing forums on what’s going on. The three rocks known as the Volkner Rocks are located around 55 km northeast of Whakatane. Most of this is a reserve, so it’s of course a ‘no-no’ to enter the cordoned off area, however there is a section or slap cut out of the reserve like a freshly cut piece of cake that you can enter into (the Whakatane facing side).


The shallowest point before entering the reserve is around 40 m which drops off rapidly out over 100 m. Set your drift lines depending on current and wind to work this area, but at the same time stay vigilant of where the reserve boundary lies. If you are unsure on the reserve boundary there is a chart at the Whakatane boat ramp that has the GPS co-ords of each position marked out for the reserve.

Another important tip – and vital as far as I am concerned – is the Whakatane Bar crossing. When the swell is up this can be very dangerous. So once again, pay close attention to the weather reports and there is also an online harbour cam that gives an indication of the conditions – make sure you check this before departure.


Kingfish tips

I also want to pass on few tips I have learnt over the years to help increase your chances of landing that kingfish.

When I arrive at any given location I take notice of what other boats are doing near us – how the crew are jigging speed-wise and whether they are hooking kings or not. I will at the same time have my crew complete different methods of jigging (yes there is more than one way to jig): one will jig rapidly, another slowly with near perfect rhythm and someone else will throw in multiple methods/strokes/lifts. We also try to throw different coloured jigs and designs to then see who consistently or only SOMETIMES hooks kings. Then as you can guess, the rest of the crew will change accordingly to somewhere near whatever seems to be working for that day.  


Remember these are not the ‘golden ticket’ spots, as you will need to use your equipment to find your fish in the areas I have provided. Set up your drift lines for current, swell and wind direction to put yourself on top of your target species. Always set your drift a distance up from the sign. If you start the drift on top of the sign, by the time your lead hits the destination, whether it be 100 m or 15 m, you will be past the ‘strike’ zone. Have someone constantly keep the boat backing into swell/current/wind to keep lines vertical and if the strike zone is between 60 m and 80 m, drop to 90 m and finish at 50 m.

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