Catching flounder in the Manukau Harbour (+ video)

Flounder from the Manukau Harbour - NZ Fisher magazine

My wife loves flounder. I’m not the biggest fan, but if there’s fish to be caught, I’m in!

In recent years I’ve had the added energy of an Oscar, my three and a half year old who wants everything to do with fishing, hunting crabs and now, floundering.

Because I’m only ever after a handful of flounder for the wife (and the odd filleted one for me) I only need a small net. I chose a 10m net a few years ago, based on a bit of research, as it was small enough to handle easily, including from the kayak.

I bought it especially for the off-the-beaten-track trips we used to take up north. Just find an estuary, set the net at half tide and collect on the outgoing. Probably with flounder, often with Mullet too which served my bait fishing needs the next day. New Zealand businesses . I learned pretty smartly where to set the net to get a better haul and where to avoid to reduce shells, weeds and logs getting caught up.

The net hadn’t seen daylight for a few years but now we’ve moved to the shores of the mighty Manukau I thought it might be the right time to give it another whirl, with Oscar in tow.

Our little bay has an oyster bed in the centre and it appears on the ebb tide that there’s two small, barely perceptible channels that direct the draining tide past the oysters and away from the crab infested flats. The closer, less muddy of these channels has become my ‘local’.

Here’s a brief video of our trip out catching flounder in the Manukau Harbour. Not the best haul, but four 35-40cm flounder feeds a family of three for a few meals.

The setting and collecting takes about half an hour at most (we luckily live only a few hundred meters from the shore), but you do need to wait over the high tide.
The flounder make their way up the channels and onto the flats hunting crabs. I’m always amazed at how many crabs a flounder can eat. At low tide their guts are chocka! If your beach has too few crabs, there will not be flounder. It’s pretty much that simple.

A lot of people set and leave their nets on dry ground, allowing the tide to rise around them and then fall before they recover their net. This is actually not legal. You may only set your net below the waterline and it must be retrieved before it ‘strands’. This is so you can release any live, undersize (or undesirable) fish you catch inadvertently. In fact, there’s a whole world of rules about nets that you should check out before even considering buying one, let alone setting it. Check out the rules here on the Ministry of Primary Industries website.

Once you’ve got a handle on the rules, netting for flounder is really fun, get out and give it a go!

Derrick Paull is the Editor of NZ Fisher magazine. 

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