Fishing Terms

Copyright © 2013-2017 by Matt Dobson.

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Last update: 21 October, 2019

78 Metre Rise

GPS 41 01.30S 174 39.85E
Just north of Fishermans rock, this place can be a consistent groper spot. Some people anchor up in 100 – 130 metres, others fish the deep. Bass can be taken as well as groper in depths of 200 to 250 metres.


A Good Bluenose Spot

GPS 41 26.45S 174 46.25E
Fish in 160 to 220 metres. Look for fish sign on your sounder, especially if it is up off the bottom.



The farming of fish or shellfish. The most commonly farmed species in New Zealand currently are: mussels, oysters and salmon.


Bait net

A net used to catch bait fish for activities such as longlining and pole-and-line fishing.


Beach Seining/Drag Netting

Beach seining or drag netting is normally carried out using a length of net and an additional length of warp (rope). The net and warp are laid out from, and back to, the shore and retrieved by hauling on to the shore. The net used is similar to that used for set-netting. Mullet, flatfish, snapper, trevally and crabs are caught this way.



Bait scattered on water to attract fish.


Big-Game Fishing

Is a form of recreational fishing, targeting large fish renowned for their sporting qualities, such as tuna, sharks and marlin. Also referred to as offshore sportfishing, offshore gamefishing, or blue-water fishing.


Catch And Release

Releasing fish alive back into the waters from which they were caught, with minimal harm done.


Closed Season

A period, usually for a specific part of the year, during which fishing for a given species is legally prohibited. They are also used to limit fishing effort to a part of the year or to protect a species for a period of time when they are in poor condition eg scallops.



The meeting of two rivers, or the meeting of a river and a lake.


Chart Datum (CD)

A water level so low that the tide will but seldom fall below it. Fundamentally the lowest level due to astronomical effects and is exclusive of meteorological effects for instance it is the level below which the ocean tide never falls, allowing for the movements of the sun, moon and earth.



Cubic metre per second (a measure of river flow).


Daily limits

All recreational fishers must stick to the legal regional catch limits for finfish, crayfish and shellfish, and can face penalties for overfishing.


Danish Seining

Danish seining is used to encircle, herd and finally trap the fish. A net bag, similar in shape to a trawl bag is operated by a long, weighted rope fixed to each end. The two ropes are used to encircle the fish and also to haul the net in. They are usually operated on the bottom and are used to catch snapper and John dory.



River mouth.



Didymosphenia geminata, commonly known as didymo or rock snot is a freshwater algae that is a biosecurity risk to New Zealand waters. It can form dense colonies called algal blooms.



Some commercial and recreational fishers dive for paua, scallops and rock lobsters. Paua may only be taken by divers using snorkels, not scuba gear.



Department of Conservation.



Away from the source of the river; the direction in which the river flows.



Dredging is used to gather scallops and oysters. To gather scallops, the fishing vessel tows a rigid steel-framed dredge along the sea floor. With oysters, a heavier ring mesh is usually used.


Ebb Tide

The receding or outgoing tide; the period between high water and the succeeding low water.


El Niño

A tropical Pacific Ocean weather system that affects air pressure, winds, sea temperature and rainfall. It follows an irregular 3–7-year cycle. Tends to “get going” around May or June, with the system really kicking in by August or September and reaching its peak around Christmas time. Wellington, can get even windier because of the predominant westerlies. Summer too stays windy and feels cool.


Fishermans Rock

GPS 41 04.10S 174 36.15E
A dangerous spot to visit in small boats unless the wind is light.
The place is riddled with extreme drop-offs (e.g. 300 metres up to 50 metres). The game-fishing potential is relatively untapped but looks to be very good. Groper fishing is quite localised but can be very excellent at times. You should get into big blue cod on the turn of the tide. Warehou are common during the winter.


An instrument used to locate fish underwater, read the bottom structure and determine depth by detecting reflected pulses of sound energy, as in Sonar.


Fishing tackle

Any tools or equipment used to catch fish, such as hook, lines, sinkers, floats, rods, reels, baits, lures, spears, nets, gaffs, traps, waders and tackle boxes.


Five Mile Reef

GPS 41 24.95S 174 48.40E
Good place for big blue cod and tarakihi in 40 to 80 metres. Kingfish can be taken during the summer and warehou in the winter around the major pinnacles. A spot that can be a very tidal and expensive on terminal tackle with numbers of barracouta and shark and snags. Groper are caught in the deeper patches from 75 to 125 metres.



Fresh water is naturally occurring water on the Earth’s surface in ice sheets, ice caps, glaciers, icebergs, bogs, ponds, lakes, rivers and streams, and underground as groundwater in aquifers and underground streams.



A stick with a sharp iron hook for landing large fish. Gaffs are not permitted when fishing for freshwater sports fish, except to secure or land salmon in the Otago region.



The source of a river.


Inshore fishing

Fishing oriented towards the bottom structure, whether you’re fishing near the surface or on the bottom. While you don’t always anchor for this kind of fishing, the water is shallow enough that you could. In general, inshore fishing is done within a few miles of shore.



The practice of fishing with a jig, a type of fishing lure intended to create a jerky, vertical motion through the water. Many species are attracted to the lure which has made it popular among anglers for years.


La Niña

A tropical Pacific Ocean weather system that affects air pressure, winds, sea temperature and rainfall. It follows an irregular 3–7-year cycle. In Wellington, the most noticeable effect of the system is wind-related. The weather is relatively calm and we get more days than normal without much wind. Also noticeable for its increased sea temperatures for summer swimmers.


Lining Methods

The most commonly used lining methods are hand-lines and long-lines. Hand-lines are mainly used by recreational fishers, though they are sometimes used for commercial species, such as southern bluefin tuna. Long-lines consist of a main line running parallel to the bottom, with baited short lines (snoods) attached at intervals. The line is anchored at each end and held at the surface by floats. Long-lines are used to catch high-quality, high-value fish such as snapper.



Cubic metres per second (measure of river flow).


Mana Cruising Club – 5 Pascoe Avenue, Mana, Porirua 5026, New Zealand

When heading north on SH1 after going over the inlet bridge take a left at the second set of traffic lights at the marina motel. Head over the train tracks and take a left between the rugby fields. You can park next to the club rooms in the members area, I will be to the right by the launching ramp.


Mean Sea Level (MSL)

The average level of the sea surface over a long period or the average level which would exist in the absence of tides.



Ministry for Primary Industries.



Maritime Safety Authority.



While there are many types of nets, all rely on the fish getting snared or caught in the net’s mesh. Nets are typically long, narrow and flat, weighted at the bottom edge and supported at the top edge by floats. The most common form of netting for recreational fishers is “set” netting. It is also used by commercial fishers to catch fish like flounder and butterfish.


Offshore Fishing

Fishing far enough from shore that the bottom structure doesn’t matter. You get tuna and marlin in water thousands of feet deep, trolling and looking for moving fish or schools of fish. Generally, offshore fishing is done over deep water away from shore in open seas.


Open Season

A period when it is legal to fish protected at other times by law.


Out Wide From Hunters

GPS 40 56.28S 174 42.60E
If you steam 3 to 5 miles west from Hunters you will find quite a few good pinnacles coming out of 150 metres and rising up to 100 metres. The groper fishing can be very good in this area from time to time as well as big blue cod and tarakihi. Albacore tuna and sharks are caught regularly during the summer.



An official document allowing someone to catch, take or harvest fish, aquatic life or seaweed.  A permit is issued by the Ministry of Fisheries, or an organisation approved by the Ministry.



Plankton are all of the small microscopic organisms that float in the ocean, sea or other bodies of salt or fresh water. They form the base of marine and freshwater food chains.



Rock lobsters and blue cod are caught in pots, usually made of a steel frame, covered with wire mesh. The pot is baited with fish and dropped from the boat on the end of a rope long enough to reach the bottom. The position of the pot is marked with floats so the pot can be easily recovered.


Purse Seining

Purse seining is used to catch surface dwelling species such as tuna, mackerels, kahawai and trevally. Aerial spotter planes are usually used to locate the intended catch. The purse seine net is laid in a circle around the school . The net is then “pursed”, drawing the bottom closed and entrapping the fish. Purse seining cannot be used by recreational fishers.


Queen’s Chain

A term commonly used to refer to a margin of land 20 metres wide along the banks of many rivers, lakes and sea that is owned by the Crown or a local authority and usually available for public access.


Rising tide

The flood or incoming tide; the period between low water and the succeeding high water.



An acronym for RAdio Detection And Ranging. It is used to detect objects on the surface up to 30 to 40 km away. Radar works in a similar way to sonar (used in the echo sounder ), except it works in air rather than water. Objects the radar identifies show up as “blips” on the screen.



Seawater or salt water is water from a sea or ocean. On average, seawater in the world’s oceans has a salinity of about 3.5%. This means that every kilogram of seawater has approximately 35 grams of dissolved salts.


Seaview Marina – 100 Port Road, Seaview, Lower Hutt 5010, New Zealand

Park on Port Road closest to the corner of Marine Drive (Eastbourne end) Walk through the track by the toilets and across the car park. I will be in front of you at the launching ramp.


Size Limits

These are imposed on most species to protect fish stocks, based on minimising harvests of juvenile fish.


Slack Water

The period at the turn of the tide when there is little or no horizontal motion of tidal water — called also slack tide.



Originally an acronym for SOund Navigation And Ranging. The method or equipment for determining by underwater sound techniques the presence, location, or nature of objects in the sea; a system for determining distance of an underwater object by measuring the interval of time between transmission of an underwater sonic or ultrasonic signal and return of its echo.


Standard Ports

Standard Ports are those for which tidal predictions are provided in the form of daily tables giving the times and heights of high and low waters. All times in these tables are in New Zealand Standard Time. Predicted heights are in metres and are based on the Chart Datum of the largest scale chart of the place.



The equipment used for fishing.


Territorial Sea

The area from the coastline out to 12 nautical miles as defined in the Fisheries Act.


The Trench

GPS 41 29.10S 174 52.40E
The main spot to fish is approximately 3 miles straight out from Turakirae Head The ‘patch’ is in 220 metres depth but you can catch fish from 200 to 300 metres. Groper are the main target fish but you will catch bass and bluenose.


The periodic rise and fall of the waters of the ocean and its inlets, produced by the attraction of the moon and sun, and occurring about every 12 hours.



Trawling is the most important commercial fishing method in New Zealand, especially for deepsea species. Trawling is used to catch a range of species, for example, orange roughy, hoki, ling, hake and squid. Recreational fishers are not permitted to use trawl nets. Trawling involves one or two fishing vessels towing a large net. Most New Zealand trawlers are single, rather than pair trawlers. Nets are usually towed for two or three hours at a speed of three or four knots. Nets of both bottom and mid-water trawling are held open by two “doors”, which act as paravanes, or underwater kites.



A method of boat fishing in which a spinner-type lure or large fly is towed behind a moving boat with the aim of getting the lure down deep, using for example a lead-core line.


Undersized Fish

Fish that do not meet the minimum legal size limit for that fish stock.


Verns Reef

GPS 41 08.55S 174 43.40E
A cracker place for big tarakihi (1-3kg) and school groper. The reef area is in 70 to 85 meters water depth. It is not a huge reef structure and don’t always expect to see fish on the sounder. There are some good rock formations out from Verns in 100 to 150 metres which produce huge blue cod and groper.



Towards the source of the river; the direction opposite to that in which the river flows.



Catch expressed in terms of weight.
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