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Life by the Sea

Fishing: Long lining

By Mark Hofert

One thing that lots of beach-going New Zealanders love to do is to go long lining.

This is where you take a long fishing line - up to one kilometre long - from the beach with up to 25 hooks attached and, a couple of hours later, haul in a variety of fresh fish.

It all sounds too easy, but start talking to the locals and you'll find that long lining has become a fine art.

Getting the line out is the first consideration. People will use kites, plastic bags filled with air, kayaks, home-made contikis (rafts) and even revolutionary torpedos.

Each has its pros and cons, but all will get the line out the required distance to get the angler, into the fish. The line is spooled on a reel fixed to the beach.

Some people will pre-bait hooks then pull the line out onto the beach and attached everything before casting out the line. Others will send the line out then bait up as it goes out to sea.

Kayakers will sometimes take their line out, anchor it, then bait up back along the anchored line.

No matter what method is used though, they all get their fair share of fish.

What is the most important thing about long lining though is that it is largely a social event.

Whole families and neighborhoods will take all their collected equipment down to the beach and help each other to launch their various rigs into the ocean. They will swap ideas, make fires and enjoy the two or more hours that there is before you can again collect your line.

Just recently I was on the beach at Matata awaiting my catch when our group of families were treated to a show from a pod of Orca just 10 metres from the beach. Our children followed them down the beach for over a kilometre while the whales frolicked in the surf. (Shame you forgot to take your camera Mark!!!!!!!!! - Ed)

We all help each other pull in the line once it's full of fish. The biggest challenge of the day is the competition that invariably ensues around who can give away the most fish.

My favorite way to prepare beach caught Kahawai is to smoke them. Smokers can be bought at almost any hardware or tackle shop. You place little cups of metholated spirits under the smoker. Inside the smoker you spread a small quantity of wood shavings, manuka is the best. Above this goes the rack with the fish and on top of the lid.

Preparation and Cooking

  • Clean the Kahawai then split the fish through the backbone, but not through the skin and open it out flesh side up.
  • Mix about 2 cups of brown sugar with a half a cup of salt
  • Coat the fish liberally with olive oil
  • Coat the fish with all of the Sugar / Salt mixture
  • Place in the lit smoker for about 20 minutes
  • Serve hot or cold on a large plate in the middle of a table This is a finger food and must be shared. It's a very popular way to eat Kahawai in New Zealand and you must give it a try.


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