Bluenose are found around offshore seamounts and small rises commonly within 200-400 m. They can be caught up off the bottom in various depths and will follow the schools of bait up and down the water column. They are active all times of the tide and have a delicate white flesh which is rated by some as the best in the ocean. Hapuka and Bass can be harder to come by, these fish tend to be harder on the bottom.
Venturing out wide you need a few things. Firstly a good weather window, which this year has been few and far between. Next a good moon phase, this will help ensure the fish are on the chew. Although an electric reel makes life easier, any reel with an appropriate braid and capacity can be used to do a drop and help detect even the smallest of bites. Finally, and arguably most importantly, a good electronics package with a deep-water transducer is a must, it will save a large amount of time by helping to pinpoint deep water structure and mark bait. Once you have marked the fish it is best to hold the boat over the fish and drop down taking into consideration tide, current and wind so that the drift can be set appropriately.
When prospecting a new area it’s ideal to use an electric reel to move from spot to spot and locate the honey hole. Once this is located then it can end up in a free-for-all with fish coming over the side drop after drop.
Our rigs for the day consisted of a backbone with 3-5 snap-on/snap-off style ledgers with a mixture of hook sizes and types including the VMC Circle non reverse in 12/0 and 14/0 and the larger ManTackle offset circle hooks in 18/0 and 20/0 with the larger baits to target Hapuka and Bass. The smaller VMC hooks certainly did the damage landing multiple baby bluenose and Gemfish throughout the day and even a small 18 kg Hapuka. The brilliance of these rigs is that when a fish is hooked simply detach the hook rig and clip on a new bait which will allow you to drop back down and stay in the strike zone longer.