West CoastBook Now
Fish – Giant Pacific Bluefin Tuna (southern and northern pacific) 150 – 400+kg
Season: July – Mid September
Location: WestCoast of South Island New Zealand
Nearest Port: Greymouth or Westport depending on fish location
Nearest International Airport: Christchurch
Nearest Domestic Airport: Westport
Time to get there: 6 – 8 hours
Departure times: Riverbar, tides and weather dependent. Each trip is booked into a five day gap to allow for the best window for fishing.
Trip Length: Recommended 48 hour trip, minimum 24 hours, up to 72 or 96 hours
Cost: $6000 per 24hrs for maximum six anglers.
Food: fully catered inclusive
Bait and Tackle and Rods supplied: inclusive
Fishing techniques: Mainly night fishing using chunking and dead baiting and burley
Recommended Tackle: Heavy 60kg, chair or stand up
Targeting the Pacific Bluefin is one of the most thrilling and exciting fishing an angler can challenge him/herself with. Its definitely a bucket list thing to do when it comes to the list of fishing triumphs of the avid and devoted angler!
In New Zealand the Pacific Bluefin migrates to a concentrated area off the Westcoast of the South Island each year. The fish aren’t here by accident as they are targeting the hoki that are in the midst of their spawning season. Hoki gather in huge meatballs of bait in very deepwater making an easy feed for the Bluefin tuna who are putting on condition and feeding up before migrating north again. The tuna are hungry and ferocious in the feeding and often following the huge commercial hoki fleet behind their nets looking for a free feed.
The most common area they are found is in a place called the Hokitika Trench where the seabed drops from 150m to over 750m approx. 50 miles out to sea. The upwelling of currents is tremendous and bringing the nutrients to the underwater food chain. It’s the middle of winter in New Zealand at the time and the snow-capped Southern Alps form the magnificent backdrop for this stunning fishery.
Bluefin Tuna fishing is not for the faint hearted, fish range in size from 150 – 220kg for the average Southern Bluefin to the enormous 200 – 500kg of the Northern Pacific Bluefin Tuna. And as tuna do they are relentless in their fighting abilities with never give up attitude. Anglers can find themselves fighting an average fish for 3 – 6 hours. Emptying the 130wide with 30+lbs of drag in minutes! Harnessed to a chair the ferocious fighting Bluefin will bend the 130lb rod in half and have Cova Rose full steam in reverse backing down hard on these fish time and time again. The fight is what you come for they are unrelenting giving nothing and taking all. The ultimate in angler against beast!
Cova Rose is set up to do the task well. She is one of the only charter vessels that holds an offshore limits maritime NZ safety survey to fish up to 100miles surrounding the New Zealand coastline. Cova Rose is a very stable platform to fish from and can handle adverse sea conditions if the need be. Cova Rose is able to efficiently hunt the fishing grounds off of Westport and Greymouth complete with AIS ship identification systems to find the commercial fleets targeting the hoki, an advanced seabed mapping and GPS computerised systems to track fish movement working from ten years of tuna fishing history. Captain Phil has all the technology at his fingertips to find and target the fish throughout the area using different techniques besides following the hoki trawlers. He also is in constant contact with ships in the area that are frequently reporting fish movements. Huge flood lights are installed to light up a good 100metres surrounding the vessel so following, fighting and landing the fish is easy for angler and crew. There is a hydraulic lifting arm for landing the giants
if you opt to take them home and a very heavy duty gamechair to handle the pressure of these giant fish. We permit you to take a fish home if you wish otherwise we encourage anglers to tag and release their catch most of the time having great photographic opportunities. If you opt to take a fish home you will need to arrange a trailer or refrigerated shipping by truck .
Most fish are caught at night although we fish during daylight hours as well, trips we recommend at least 48 hours giving two whole nights fishing and time to chunk and burley fish up and hook and land several fish. We expect 1 – 2 fish per night. We take a maximum of six anglers on a Bluefin trip. So for all six anglers to have a turn on a fish we often do 72 hours and some groups opt to make the most of it and fish up to 96 hours. Due to fishing night and day with very little down time we charge out at a rate of $6000 per 24hr period but this includes all your bait, tackle, burley, rods, 130lb gear, chair rods and charter and food for the trip. We use 130lb mono heavy gear set ups, however we have had the odd jig fisherman land fish on their spin reels and stand up fighting such as world renown Mogi Yoichi and John Pellows from Yeehaa fishing. We use techniques of chunking and deadbaits mostly but the possibility always lies in hooking the first Bluefin on a jig, but hang on tight its going to be a wild ride!
The trips are booked into a five day gap to allow for the best weather window as the wild westcoast needs to be treated with caution and respect. Riverbars at both Greymouth and Westport dictate departure and return times as well as wind, swell and tides. There are many motels in the area that groups can wait for their trips to commence. Trout guiding tours and activities such as Monteiths brewery tours, glacier and mountain guided tours and the beautiful trainride across the Southern Alps and Canterbury plains. Christchurch is the nearest international airport and is only a four hour drive away so some groups opt to stay in the city and wait for the word from the skipper. Otherwise there are domestic airports in Hokitika and Westport. Once onboard, Cova Rose boasts modern mod cons to make the journey in comfort with satellite TV, heat pumps and hot endless showers available with plentiful hot food and sleeping in full single bunks.
Every year new PB’s are reached and world records are broken. We estimate fish up to 500 – 600kg are in the area each year and often sighted by the commercial fleets. 2013 we managed both the all tackle record and the woman’s 60kg world record to be beaten on board Cova Rose. The next world record is waiting to be broken will this be you?