Given the nature of our sport it is inevitable that spearos are going to have run ins with sharks. Luckily here in New Zealand there are few around and encounters while not rare are unusual. Generally these encounters involve "taxmen" stealing fish and the most common is feeling a sharp tug on your floatline as a bitey takes your fish off your float.
|SPOTTED BLACK GROUPER
The spotted black grouper is one of the only fully-protected fish in New Zealand waters. Their colour pattern is highly variable and can change quickly from a uniform dark grey-black to a blotched or distinctively banded dark and light pattern.
DO NOT SHOOT!!!
The queensland grouper, while a rare sight in New Zealand, are sometimes found in Northern waters through the summer. Queensland groupers may reach sizes of 3m long and 600kg making them one of the biggest reef fish on the planet. Adult fish are a uniform dark grey with a mottled pattern. They are a very heavy looking, stocky fish and have rounded fins.
Further Reading: A Big Fish Story
The classic newby line: "I've shot something but I'm not sure what it is...I think it's a butterfish?" Well, nine times out of ten it's a marblefish.
Marblefish (sometimes called kelpfish, kelpies or Maori chiefs) are a large heavy-bodied fish with a blunt rounded snout, a long deeply notched dorsal, and thick fleshy pectoral, pelvic and anal fins that are used as props when the fish is resting on the bottom.
Putting this fish amongst the non-target species is perhaps a little controversial: I doubt there is a spearo in the country who didn't cut his teeth on red moki and they are edible...especially smoked or in curries. They are however a very long-lived fish - up to 60 years!, mate for life and pose almost no challenge whatsoever to a spearo and therefore fail the Wild Blue face-full-of-steel test.
Parore are one of the most common fish found in northern waters. Some people may be surprised to find parore in the non-target species but they are generally not regarded as an eating fish. On my first dive trip to the Bay of Islands I shot a couple and brought them back to the boat with the classic line "I'm not sure what this is but..." The reply was: "That's a parore some people call them black snapper and think they're great but we call them s*#$t fish, now don't bring them on my boat".
Sandagers wrasse are easily recognized by their unique colour scheme. There'll be one larger male (pictured) with several smaller, lighter coloured attendant females and juveniles. All juveniles grow into females and the dominant female will change sexes when the solitary male dies or is removed from the school.
While these little chubs aren't a target themselves they're a great indication that you're in the right spot and better targets aren't far away..