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Baitfish for Dinner?

Written by Dan Westerkamp on November 23rd, 2017.      0 comments

Have you ever jumped in at your favourite spearfishing spot and swum around for hours, only to end up empty handed?  Well I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to go home with nothing anymore. There’s plenty of baitfish around!

Baitfish? No not those smelly pilchards in the bottom of your chilly bin, I’m talking about a member of the tuna family, a fantastic challenge and a great eating fish known as the Koheru. These electric blue yellow and green little bullets are often found in large schools feeding on plankton. They can also be found anywhere there is deep water and strong current. They are also commonly located in mid water above reef structure and in shallow bays.


pinnacles-46 Offshore islands, pinnacles and rock outcrops make great Koheru hunting spots. If your lucky, kingfish could be hanging around too…


Koheru are not the biggest fish so can provide a great challenge as they are fast and hardly ever stop moving. They are also one of the best fish for Sashimi. So why not have a go at targeting them!

The main way to target them is using a burley. A bag tied to the side of the boat in an area with a strong current generally does the trick. If a pre-made burley isn’t accessible, I grab a few kina or mussels and crack them open on the surface letting them float down in the water column. If the Koheru are around they will race in and start picking up the pieces. Don’t dive straight away, let them get used to your presence. At the start, they will be flighty and be racing in and out. Over time, they will get used to you and lower their pace a bit. When this happens, you can dive down and follow a piece of burley and patiently wait for one to come in to range

Like kingfish, they are very curious so you just need to be patient and let them come to you. A tinted mask helps to avoid eye contact. And remember, as tempting as it is, tracking them and swinging your gun round will just scare them off, so slow, fluid movements are key.

koheru A couple of decent Koheru are all that is needed for a sashimi meal

If they are in a large school pick one and target it. Many beginners get flustered by seeing so many fish and just shoot into the school, very rarely will you succeed in hitting anything. Koheru are a favourite food of kingfish so it often pays to leave the Koheru on your spear for a while to see if it attracts any kingies. Be polite let your dive buddy spear one first, then when a kingfish comes in to check out the struggling fish you have you gun loaded and ready to go!

On that point, diving in blue water can be dangerous. Always dive with a buddy and be aware of where they are. I find it best to have someone on the surface and one person diving down. This way you always know where your buddy is and there is no chance that you will fire off into the distance and injure them. Also be aware of strong currents that can drag you away from your boat, always have a boat person and a float and flag!

Koheru sashimi-904 Nothing Beats fresh Koheru sashimi with a bit of Wasabi & Soy sauce!!!

Koheru are fun fish to shoot and make fantastic sashimi (raw fish). As with any fish make sure you iki it and put it on ice straight away. With a bit of burley, they can appear out of nowhere and provide some great entertainment. They are fast and challenging so don’t get frustrated if you don’t get one straight away. Just be patient and enjoy the challenge, but keep an eye out for kingfish, you never know when one might show up!!