Last minute spear-dive miles off Napier coast nets a rare surprise

During the final few hours of a two-day diving line and spearfishing journey across the outer reaches of Hawke Bay spearfisherman Andrew Wilson had the chance to finally get into the water.

It turned out to be what he called "right place and right time" as he later surfaced with three mahi mahi - extremely rare fish in these waters as they are more likely found in tropical waters.

Andrew Wilson speared three tropical mahi mahi in the outer reaches of Hawke Bay yesterday.

Tropical-sea mahi mahi

When they have previously been seen in New Zealand waters it has only usually been in far northern waters at the height of summer.

Along with wife Nicole he looks after Extreme Freedom, a small free-diving and spearfishing shop in Napier but his Easter adventures far from land saw him watching over his line-fishing fellow anglers rather than entering the water.

Aboard their boat Te Waka he and skipper James Wedd and three other keen open sea fish pursuers spent two days and night venturing out around the bay, exploring new fishing grounds and trying out new gear.

"It was a fishing expedition really, and it was one that came with a bonus at the end of it," Mr Wilson said.

They were out off the east bank, about 30 to 40 nautical miles straight out from Napier, and had seen marlin as well as blue nose, and hooked on to a swordfish but it got away.

"The conditions weren't too flash out there," Mr Wilson said of the conditions still surging about in the wake of Cyclone Cook having edged down across the North Island from the tropics.

But while it had brought wild weather is may have also sent warmer waters surging south and they brought with them the unexpected bonus - a large school of about 50 mahi mahi which are also known as dolphinfish and are spectacular for their vibrant green, yellow and blue shades of colour.

Just a few hours before heading for home Mr Wilson finally got the chance to get over the side, and said the seas were running a warmer than usual (for this time of year) 20.5C with about 30m of visibility.

When he spotted the mahi mahi school he could not believe his eyes...or his luck.
They are a delicacy up in the islands and he found that out for himself during a visit to Rarotonga when he dined on some.

He ended up spearing three.

"They are very rare down this way and these may be the first ever caught off Napier," he reckoned.

"We were looking at new areas to fish and this shows that anything can happen out there."

He said the mahi mahi would likely stick around if the waters stayed warm, but said approaching southerlies may put paid to that, so was lucky he scored the chance when he did.

Catching a few mahi mahi was an extreme bonus, he said, adding they would not become trophies - they would become meals.

"Oh they eat well - pretty darn tasty."

- Hawkes Bay Today By Roger Moroney