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The TOP 6 target species when drone fishing in New Zealand

New Zealand is lucky enough to have reasonably good stocks of fish around our coastline for recreational fishers, and it is really not too difficult to catch yourself a feed if you take your drone out for a fish!

In this article we will describe the major target species that you are likely to go hunting for around the upper part of the North Island when you go drone fishing.  This obviously changes as you head south down the New Zealand Coast Line & colder water where different species pop up.

Here are the main targeted drone fishing fish species in the Upper North Island Region (not in any order), we will go into a little detail about each of these species along with some helpful tips about catching them!

  1. Trevally
  2. Gurnard
  3. John Dory
  4. Snapper
  5. Kahawhai
  6. Kingfish

Starting with Trevally, they are often a strong fighting fish (especially with the bigger ones which can put up a very tough fight).  They are found upto 2kg in weight.  Their mouths are very soft so if they are not hooked well sometimes they will break free from a hook.  They are found up and down both coastlines in the northern region.  Best baits for Trevally are pipi’s or fresh tuatuas (TIP: you will need to bind the shellfish to the hook using cotton or something similar – to make sure it stays on the hook long enough). Trevally go well pan fried & also make a really good sushimi also and they are seen as an eating delicacy for some people. Trevally also makes an excellent bait also, especially if you are drone fishing for snapper.

Gurnard FishGurnard one a very intriguing species to catch.  People often refer to them as the “Carrot” given their cone-like shape and bright orange colouring.  These fish are really amazing to look at once their pectoral fins are completely fanned out.  Gurnard do not generally fight very much on the line and are more like a kind of weight, with the odd small head movement.  Gurnard also like shelfish as bait and also Squid.  They are generally found on Sandy bottom areas.  Many people swear by how good Gurnard taste and are best pan-fried.

John Dory are a strange fish species that are often caught by drone fisherman around the top half of the North Island.  They are terrible fighters on the line and you can barely feel them apart from perhaps slightly more weight on the line.  John Dory are a very thin & flat fish that swim upright.  Their flesh is very fine, sometimes almost translucent and are prized by many for their eating.  As a drone fisherman you will often catch John Dory around rocky or reef areas, or where the sand meets the reef underwater.  This is because the John Dory often hunts for smaller fish around these areas, as this is it’s major food source & generally John Dory seem to stay in one area.  These fish often make strange groaning noises when caught.  John Dory are best pan fried.

IMG 6009Snapper is probably one of the most prized species for any drone fisherman in New Zealand.  Not only do they fight hard, but they are beautiful fish to see swimming in their natural habitat PLUS they taste really good!  They are excellent Smoked, & Pan-fried.  Snapper are found up and down both New Zealand coasts and generally congregate in large numbers in Spring time (due to spawning season) and also bite well in Autumn also, although are relatively prevalent right across Summer.  The bigger fish can reach upto 20 pounds in weight and many people now practice catch and release with these larger fish as they are not as good to eat as the smaller ones, plus they are much better at breeding, so is much better for generations of Snapper to come!

IMG 2851Kahawai are one of the most prevalent of fish species that a drone fisherman often catch while out at the beach. Kahawai are excellent fighting fish, are good to eat (especially when soaked in Lemon & served in Coconut Cream – they are dynamite!).  Kahawai will take virtually any bait, and they also make very good bait themselves and its good to note that if you catch Kahawai early on in your drone fishing trip – Good Fresh Kahawai Bait is great for other target species (like Snapper) plus fresh bait will stay on the line far better and longer than frozen bait from the fishing shop!  Big Ocean going Kahawai can be as large as 1.5kg.  They are fast swimmers & also if you know a hungry Kingfish is in the area while you are drone fishing,  then setting a small Kahawai (like the one shown) out on your Drone Fishing rig could easily result in a Kingfish Strike.

So last but not least we have what many refer to the “King” of Target Species for Any Drone Fisherman – the Kingfish (or Yellowtail as they are referred to Overseas), regarded just as highly as the Snapper & generally much harder to catch.  King Fish are a aggressive predator fish & are most partial to live bait.  They are also a beautiful fish with amazing Green areas around their body.  Generally adult Kingfish are much larger than the other target species listed above (they can get upto 20KG for the larger adults, but even 10KG fish are quite common) , and they are definitely more scarce most times of the year.  Kingfish are often most prevalent during the summer months but can be quite difficult to tempt with a bait or lure, which is why Drone Fishing with a set line can be great as there is less to scare the fish away from taking a bite!  They are an aggressive predator fish species and will often take a live-bait, so as a drone fisherman if you are ever lucky enough to have a live bait handy and are in an area known for Kingfish, then getting a small live Kahawai or Piper out can really attract any local Kingfish that are sneaking around.  Kingfish also world renowned for they hard fighting capability once hooked (you will certainly know if you have hooked an adult one on your Drone Fishing Rig).  They are also excellent eating fish and definitely taste the best if you can put them on salt ice straight after the catch, and then cooked as fresh as possible.  The flesh can sour a little if the fish is not looked after once caught. They Smoke well, Sashimi well, and can be cooked in many other ways also.  Almost nothing beats fresh Kingfish!  Here is some really good detailed information about the Kingfish.

There you have it! The Top 6 Target Fish Species for drone fisherman around New Zealand.  If you want more information or want to see images of each of the fish above (and more), then this is a good article.  I hope this information will help make your fishing experience a little better!  Please reach out to us if you have any more questions, only too happy to assist.


Please note that all our articles are put together by our team and should not be replicated or plagiarised in any way without express written permission.

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