John Dory – Zeus faber – live bait is best but will take mussel baits

John Dory - Zeus faber. Colouration can vary widely from silver to dark olive green, or bronze. Drawing by Allan Burgess.
John Dory - Zeus faber. Colouration can vary widely from silver to dark olive green, or bronze. Drawing by Allan Burgess.

John Dory – Zeus faber

Also called Kuparu

John Dory is frequently caught around the North Island of New Zealand by anglers fishing from wharves and jetties. They are more common north of Cook Strait. Also found around the Otago Peninsula, off the outer Marlborough Sounds and on the upper West Coast of the South Island. But are not usually seen or caught along the Kaikoura Coast and the Banks Peninsula. John Dory is also found at the Kermadec, Norfolk, Lord Howe and Three Kings Islands. 

Wharf piles make excellent hunting grounds for the John Dory which feeds almost exclusively on small live fishes which they eat by sucking them into its large extendable mouth.

John Dory is frequently caught around the North Island of New Zealand by anglers fishing from wharves and jetties. The piles make excellent hunting grounds for the John Dory which feeds almost exclusively on small live fishes which they eat by sucking them into its large extendable mouth.

If you are out to catch one of these odd-looking fish a small live bait is by far the best method. John Dory grows to a maximum size of about 5kg. Amazingly they have the ability to change colour to match their surroundings. Their bodies are flat and slender.

You need live baits up to 150mm (6 inches) long. Just about any species will work fine: spotties, mullets, bullies, and so on. Take a 5/0 hook and pass the barb in and out of the skin of the baitfish just behind the head.

John Dory - Zeus faber.
John Dory – Zeus faber. When fish are dead their nervous system stops working. They can no longer control their chromatophore cells so their skin becomes pale and dull.

John Dory will also readily take small jigs and soft plastics. As John Dory are stealth hunters you don’t need to wind the reel fast as the Dory is unlikely to chase your lure. John Dory will readily take a mussel bait well tied onto the hook.

They aren’t much of a fighting fish when hooked. They are instead targeted for their eating qualities which are excellent. Their fine delicate flesh makes them one of our very best table fish species.

John Dory caught by Dane Rayner in Breaker Bay, Wellington.
This John Dory was caught by Dane Rayner in Breaker Bay, Wellington.

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