Kahawai Fishing at River Mouths on Light Tackle Video
Kahawai is one of the most readily available fish species for anglers to catch in New Zealand waters. They often gather in huge numbers around river mouths where they hunt for silveries (smelt), sprats, whitebait, and krill. Kahawai schools will come right in close to shore chasing baitfish; particularly during the summer months. Kahawai schools will pursue and attack baitfish schools often chasing their frightened prey right up on to beaches. This frenzied activity is often attended by large numbers of hovering and diving sea-birds.
Here is a great video on light tackle kahawai fishing featuring Malcolm Bell from The Complete Angler tackle store in Christchurch City. Fishing for kahawai on light tackle. Note how Malcolm holds the fish up-side-down which causes it to stop struggling. This strange behaviour occurs with most species of fish. It makes it a lot easier to remove the hook and release the fish unharmed.
Kahawai are used to chasing and catching small baitfish measuring around 50 to 80mm in length. As such, they can be extremely willing to take artificial baitfish lures cast out over the breakers and wound in at speed. It doesn’t matter how fast you wind your reel handle as the kahawai will have no trouble at all overtaking and biting your lure.
The best lures for kahawai spin fishing are silver in colour. Those lures that closely resemble sprats are one of the best for targeting kahawai. A lure body around 70mm in length works well. Although many South Island anglers fish for kahawai with the same gear they use to fish for salmon, more and more anglers are discovering the joys of fishing for kahawai are river mouths using much lighter spinning gear that would normally be used to fish for trout. This lighter tackle allows the kahawai to give a good account of themselves when hooked as they make fast runs and will often jump clear of the water in their attempts to throw the hook.
Many Kiwis started out kahawai spin fishing by casting ticers at river mouths over the summer months when kahawai are most plentiful. They are often very easy to catch when in large schools. Even if you can’t see kahawai in the surf adjacent to the river they are often there. Watch out for the telltales sign of diving sea-birds. Even if you can’t see anything happening it is always worth casting at river mouths and beaches for kahawai. The kahawai will also take baited hooks but are much more likely to take a quickly retrieved spinning lure.
Kahawai have a habit of tossing the hook by jumping as mentioned above. They are also good at straightening the barbs on fish hooks with their strong runs. It is important to periodically check your treble hooks to ensure the barbs haven’t straightened out. Surprisingly you are better to fish for kahawai using just a single hook. I know this sounds counter-productive. After all, you would be forgiven for assuming that three barbs on a treble hook must be better than just one when it comes to hooking fish. However, this isn’t so at all. A single hook holds better and is harder for kahawai to toss.
The single hook results in a more positive hook-up with less fish getting off. Surprisingly using a single hook also results in more takes! This is particularly so if fishing with a small compact silver sprat lure weighing about 20g. When fished on braid you will be able to detect the slightest touch by a kahawai on the lure making it easy to strike and set the hook. Kahawai spin fishing is tremendously exciting. The fish run and jump constantly. If one should get off your line you will often catch another before you can wind in your lure.