Amberley Beach Surfcasting
After two full days spent fishing we had caught only one small paddle crab. A plague of sea lice continued to strip the bait from our hooks within minutes of their being cast out. I was convinced that we had come to the worst fishing possie ever created. Such was my first experience of surfcasting at Amberley Beach. Fortunately, subsequent trips proved my earlier conclusions to have been unfounded.
To most Canterbury anglers, surfcasting north of Banks Peninsula means only one thing; joining the multitude of other anglers in the hope of landing a salmon at the mouth of the Waimakariri River. During late summer, when these magnificent fish are running, there is standing room only – and that’s on a week day, the weekends are even more crowded.
There are two reasons surfcasting is not as popular at sandy beaches like Brighton, Waikuku, Woodend and Leithfield. Firstly, these beaches are nearly always crowded with bathers, surfers and others enjoying the open air. The surfcaster accustomed to fishing the deserted, steeply shelving, shingle beaches south of Banks Peninsula, will find it necessary to check the water for swimmers before casting!
The second difficulty, to my mind, is the shallow nature of these beaches. One hundred metres out the water maybe only up to your waist. If you are to maintain dry feet without resort to waders, then very long casts are necessary.
Notwithstanding these minor draw-backs, there is good fishing to be had along this stretch of coastline. At night the fishing improves considerably. Red cod in particular move back into the shallow water after sundown. A friend of mine has made some impressive night-time catches of this species from New Brighton Beach . Mind you, he walks out into the surf wearing body waders in the middle of the night, not a practice that I am very keen on.
Amberley Beach is a small seaside settlement consisting mainly of holiday baches. It is situated about 40 kilometres up the coast from Christchurch. I have found the main catch during the summer to be school shark. Large numbers of kahawai also put in an appearance, as do yellow eyed mullet. A bonus is that the beach is often covered with large tuatua (shellfish) which make excellent bait. Strangely the tuatua can sometimes seem to disappear and yet at other times be plentiful along here.
Right down to the northern end of the beach past the Waipara river mouth – about 5km from the settlement – there is a very pleasant forested area where the open beach meets the rocky coastline. This is known as Double Corner. You really need a farm bike or 4WD to get there. I have seen people launch small boats at the end and dive and line fish just offshore. Here you can also fish from the rocks. There are also plenty of paua found by divers in the shallows.
The numerous floats of set nets aimed at targeting rig, flounder and elephant fish can be seen bobbing in the light swell along Amberley Beach. I am sure this practice has done the fishing no good at all.
Amberley is also a popular spot for kite fishing with a north west wind being the best for kite flying.
Tautuas are often found on this beach in good numbers. A surfcasting contest is held here each year.
It is wise to give any new fishing possie a good bash before giving up. It may just be that, as I did the first time I fished at Amberley Beach, you picked the wrong day to load the tackle into the car.