Successful Surfcaster: Vijay Nikora Raj

We learnt a lot about enthusiastic surfcaster, Vijay, who lives in Kawerau, Bay of Plenty. And we learnt a lot about surfcasting. Well done Vijay!

The Fishing Paper: What is your first memory of fishing?

Vijay: Ironically, my first word was “Fish” but that had nothing to do with fishing. We had a huge aquarium I would gaze at for hours as an infant, so I was intrigued with fish at a young age. Mum and I lived in a house bus at Thornton Beach Holiday Park, I would get so excited to catch sprats, off the wharf by the campground, after school. Not really knowing how to fish family friends taught me the basics.

TFP: What stages have you passed through on your fishing journey?

Vijay: I started fishing off the wharves then, at 9 years old, it evolved into a mixture of trout fishing, fly fishing and spinning the local rivers with my stepdad twice a week. He was a land base fishing enthusiast and taught me the art of surfcasting and rock fishing. I do love boat fishing and have done a lot of boat fishing in my years, however land-based is where my passion lies. My passion grows more and more even 25 years later and now I’m able to pass these skills onto my own children.

TFP: What has been your most successful day surfcasting?

Vijay: I’ve spent a lot of decades casting lead so there’s been a lot of very successful surfcasting missions. I scored a gig on TV with Matt Watson one time and have attended surfcasting comps around the country. However, one trip that stands out as successful, and memorable, is a recent trip with my stepdad. He’s my role model and we’ve spent many hours fishing together but over the years he can’t really get out like we used to.

This trip on the East Coast, August 2021, I fished 2 rods and my dad one. My first cast landed a nice 4.5kg snapper and when my dad hooked a nice gurnard, they just kept rolling in. The conditions were right, and the fish were hungry. Within two hours of putting back fish we’d reached the limit for snapper, all in good condition, between 2kg7kg. There were some nice gurnard amongst them too. Every cast held a decent fish, and it was like that the next morning. The fish were hungry. We met a local who was was attending a tangi (funeral) the next day in the area we gave him a koha and a bin full of fish to take with him. That felt really good. That was one of the best trips I’ve had because it was choice to return the favour to my dad. He started me off with my first surfcaster and now I’m teaching him the new methods. Just a bloody choice father-son fishing mission.

TFP: What is your most favoured rig for surfcasting?

Vijay: The running rig. It’s an easy, no fuss, straight forward set up. However, I am starting to like the newer pulley rigs some of the crew are using. They really do make a difference in the distance of your cast. The IMP clips that are starting to show on the market are looking really good too, so I’ve started to have a play around with them. But I have always loved the way the running rig sits in the water. I use a very short trace, roughly 30cm long or shorter.

TFP: What brand of rod and reel do you favour?

Vijay:I’m a surfcasting ambassador for Kilwell NZ and they do an awesome job of supplying my gear. The Powerplay SLX, Powerplay 222 and the new three-piece rods are awesome.

I run TiCA long cast reels on those rods.

I have been testing out some new TiCA range surf rods for Kilwell and they are great, extremely lightly weighted and pack a punch when casting. A couple are becoming my go to rods. I have those rods paired with the TiCA surf reels and they work really good together.

I do have to say the Veritas rods by Abu Garcia are some of my favourites. A few years back, after an all-nighter, we had a little accident which resulted where my three Kilwell Powerplays and three main reels didn’t make it.

My surprise my friends and whanau rallied together and got me a couple of Veritas rods and I was forever grateful. One of the Veritas rods is now old faithful. It’s just one of those lucky rods that always catches a good fish. But the new rods on the market are five times lighter than the older rods out there and lighter rods are a dream to cast, especially if you’re fishing for hours on end like I do. As I’m getting older my bones can’t take it so the new, well weighted, Kilwell rods are a pleasure to cast all night.

TFP: What baits do you mainly use for surfcasting?

Vijay: Anchovies, octopus, cray tail are my main go to baits.

TFP: What is your top tip for surfcasting success?

Vijay: Study the grounds you are going to fish and the fish themselves. Is it better on high tide or low tide? At night or during the day? What food source is generally in the area?

Do your homework. Have confidence in your gear and keep it in good shape. Get a good head torch for night fishing. Anchovies as bait will never let you down. Don’t let the rain put you off. GO HARD. And if you find a spot you like, fish that area throughout both tides.

Where I live, Eastern Bay of Plenty, our beaches fish better at night, especially for snapper, so I always look for a high tide that falls around 1am. I’ll start fishing that night at 10pm and fish till approximately 8am the next day. Snapper, kahawai and kingfish feed hard first thing in the mornings here so I always try for a king fish then.

TFP: Do you have favourite surfcasting spots and how do you fish these places?

Vijay: I love my go to spots. They’re easy for me. Matata, Thornton beaches are only a 20 min drive from my place. I do love fishing the East Coast Beaches further past Opotiki, Torere, Hawai and Omaio Bay. They’re absolutely stunning places of paradise. I fish all these beaches the same as any other beach, but I will fish deeper stony beaches during the day when they hold good fish.

Another paradise I don’t get to fish much is the mighty Far North. Last expedition nearly all snapper I caught were over 4kg. I think my best on that trip was 7kg. We are heading back up to fish the 90 Mile Beach in the start of September and I can’t wait to chase some monster snapper.

TFP: What other forms of fishing do you pursue?

Vijay:Trout fishing, fly fishing, spinning, rock fishing and boat fishing. I’m not the greatest at these forms but still love them.

TFP: Besides fishing what else do you like to do in the outdoors?

Vijay: I love to go camping, hiking, hunting and the odd bush walk with mates.

TFP: What do you think of the present state of the Bay of Plenty fishery?

Vijay: Shore fishing is getting harder and harder by the year for dedicated surfcasters. There’s a definite drop-off in take home numbers and desirable table species.

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