Experience: Boater, Recreational Fisherman, Scuba Diver, Spearfisherman, Charter Skipper
Regions: North Island, Fiordland
Interview Location: Milford Sound, NZ
Interview Date: 05 February 2016
Post Date: 01 December 2017; Copyright © 2017 Craig Hind and Steve Crawford
3. WHITE POINTER DISTRIBUTION AND ABUNDANCE
CRAWFORD: When you moved to New Zealand, and you were kind of getting your bearings here, especially for all the time that you spent with offshore, tournament-style fishing using professional gear, professional tackle. For all of the time you spent in Northland, did you see sharks - in general - up there?
CRAWFORD: What types of sharks would you have seen?
HIND: Bronze Whalers, big numbers there. But we also kind of targeted them as well.
CRAWFORD: You were actually shark fishing?
HIND: Yeah. We’d go and target Bronze Whalers.
CRAWFORD: What kind of gear would you use for that?
HIND: Oh, we try to go as light tackle as we could. So, I was going onto 50-pound spin reels, and 50-pound braided line, and light rods to see if we could get them. We hooked them up, bring them onto the beach, tagged them, and then released them.
CRAWFORD: Where did you get the tags from?
HIND: The guys from Okuma had them. There’s a whole bunch of tags, just normal.
CRAWFORD: So, these were live release. When you played a Bronze Whaler, roughly how long would you have that shark on the line?
HIND: If we’re going normal, sort of 80-pound gear, maybe anything from a half hour to hour and a half - depending on where we hooked it, and the attitude of the fish. Some fish just "I can’t be asked, please take the hook out of my mouth." Others we actually had them jump before, in shallow water, and we’ve had Bronze Whalers do summersaults. Awesome.
CRAWFORD: When you were targeting Bronze Whalers, what other types of sharks would you potentially tie into?
HIND: No, we wouldn’t get anything else. Oh, a couple of times Topes [School Sharks].
CRAWFORD: What kind of bait were you using?
HIND: Half a Bonito, or half a Kingfish, or a whole Kingfish carcass floating on a balloon.
CRAWFORD: On a balloon?
HIND: Yeah, so the whole Kingfish carcass that size, a big steel trace, big circle hook ...
CRAWFORD: How big was the hook on that?
CRAWFORD: What other types of sharks did you see when you were out fishing, but not targeting sharks?
HIND: Makos. A lot of them.
CRAWFORD: Were they following your fish?
HIND: When we were fishing for Broad-billed Swordfish, quite often we’d pick those up in very deep water, 600 metres of water. And when we were trolling for Marlin, we’d hook them up. Not regular, but it did happen.
CRAWFORD: Would the Makos be tying in closer to the surface as you were bringing the fish in?
HIND: No, no. When we were trolling for Marlin, if we’ve got dead baits out there, we’re going through natural baits, we'd hook up and think "Oh, we’ve hooked into a Marlin." Everyone gets into their chair, starts fighting, and the next you’ve got the Makos out doing summersaults and everything. And Makos are regarded as an IGFA [International Game Fish Association] game fish, so they would be released.
CRAWFORD: What other sharks, did you catch or see when you were out there?
HIND: Blue Sharks, sometimes we would see them. The one day we tried to actually go for Blue Sharks on the fly - fly fishing. So, burley trail out ... we got beaten up [laughs]. Got beaten up quite badly. Hooked a couple, but couldn’t hold onto them.
CRAWFORD: Did you see any White Pointers in Northland?
HIND: No, never saw nothing.
CRAWFORD: Did any of your mates, or any of the old-timers, ever talk about White Pointers up there?
HIND: Guys always talk about them. I’ve heard like Marty Johanson, the owner of Okuma, he would talk about years ago where in Hauraki Gulf, every now and then they would see the odd one cruising around. But never really heard too much. Throughout the years of fishing up there, and being involved in the whole fishing scene, I always heard stories. As soon as guys start talking about White Pointers, you would hear somebody sitting there "Oh yeah, we saw one at Little Barrier one day." "Oh, we saw one off the Coromandel."
CRAWFORD: And it could have been, or it could have not been?
HIND: Yeah. How sure are you? Because from the surface, a big Mako swims past ... from the surface you have to double-take. "Ok, is it a White or is it a Mako?"
CRAWFORD: And that’s one of the reasons why I focussed on your early experience, because even though they were South African White Pointers, you had seen quite a few of them. You’ve seen them up close and personal, too.
CRAWFORD: In terms of seasonality, is there a time when White Pointers are seen here, versus times when they’re not?
HIND: Summer time. You always hear people talking about a lot more sightings and interactions with Great Whites during summer.
CRAWFORD: Also, to be fair, during the summer time you’ve also got the greatest frequency of tours, the greatest number of people out there, greatest number of eyes on the water. That might also be part of it. But is there a sense that in the winter time, in the off season ... I mean the fishery is still going, to the extent that the weather permits - but there is still a sense that the animals come along the summer?
HIND: Talking to the guys, like the local commercial fishermen and the old guys, they’ve always said “During the winter, you’ll never see a Great White. And you’re very unlikely to even see a Sevengiller. They just disappear. Only in the summer, when the water gets a little bit warmer, that’s when you’ll find them, but right now in the winter, I wouldn’t even worry about it.”
Copyright © 2017 Craig Hind and Steve Crawford