Vijay on catching gurnard

We had such a good response last month to Vijay’s snapper catching article we have asked him to follow up with his take on gurnard fishing.

“Gurnard have to be one of the most desirable targeted fish for most surfcasters who will travel many miles to target these fish, also famously nicknamed, ‘’carrots’’ given their shape and length resembling a carrot.

For myself here in the Eastern Bay of Plenty I’ve found the gurnard tend to start showing their appearance in the colder months around June. However some areas may differ. Matata and Thornton Beach will hold gurnard however I feel it’s an extreme bonus if you do nab one as I will mainly target snapper from Matata and Thornton in hopes a gurnard may show up but they are not along these beaches in large numbers. However a 45 minute drive further east past Opotiki holds extremely nice grounds for this sought after delicacy.

I tend to fish deeper stoney beaches like Omaio Bay, Hawai, and Torere in the colder months. The body takes a beating sitting out in the cold. The older I get the harder it becomes haha. But the love and passion I have for fishing keeps me going. I will mainly catch all my gurnard during the night and mostly after midnight so it makes for a long night and a lot of coffee to keep me going. Once you catch one gurnard off the stoney beaches you’re on the money. You will most likely catch a few more. Their bite can be very subtle at times so it pays to pay a lot of attention to your rod behaviour as their bites can be very light pulls, not like a snapper hook up.

Anchovy make great gurnard bait

For instance one very, very cold night down the coast it was 2.00am and I was constantly getting very small bites every bait. I was thinking maybe small bait fish as in mullet or eels as down the coast they are along there in numbers so after a bit of frustration I decided to hold my rod and try to hook one of these little suckers to find out what they are to behold. Once I put a bit of tension on and pulled back on my rod. BAM, hooked up, not much fight but I was reeling it in and to my surprise it was a bloody whopper gurnard. I was stunned as I spent two hours watching these suckers just pulling my bait off. So I cast out again put one rod in the rod holder and I held my other rod. I felt a slight touch and a pull so I pulled back very lightly to feel the weight of my sinker. Next minute BAM on again and it was another carrot. I watched the second rod getting the same small pulls but no hook up. So they only way to hook them that night was to hold the rod and hold tension to my sinker. Maybe they were feeding different that night but that for me was the only way to beach them so sometimes it pays to change things up or try different methods. I think I ended up with six nice gurnard that night.

The rigs I use for targeting gurnard are no different to how I fish for snapper. Simple running rig with a 30cm long trace, a 4/0 recurve hook and my traces usually consist of two green lumo beads for attraction. My choice of baits are anchovy and bonito. Gurnard love little oily baits Nga Mihi Nui.

Tight Lines. Vijay Nikora-Raj.”

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