RECORD: 4.79kg, A. Rae, Breaker Bay, 1980.
Perhaps the most speared fish in New Zealand, Butterfish or Greenbone (they have green bones) are a good eating fish and are fun to hunt. Butterfish start off a golden brown with a white stripe running along their lateral line and become darker as they grow larger until they are a dark bluey green. They have long and wavy pectoral and anal fins that look like part of the kelp that they live in. They average 30-50cm long but grow up to 70cm, especially further south.
Bag limit: Part of 20 finfish limit
HABITAT & FEEDING HABITS:
Butterfish are herbivorous and live in shallow kelp beds.
Butterfish are very easily spooked and it is important not to make any sudden movements and to get low down in the weed to stalk them. They are easy to find grazing over sunny, kelp beds in shallow water but usually disappear into the kelp when you dive on them. Luckily they come out of their hiding places relatively quickly when you lie still. The best way to hunt butterfish seems to be the 'lie and wait' method: You dive straight down into the weed and hide, camouflage suits are a big help here, and wait for the fish to come out. It can be amazing how many there are sometimes. They are reasonably curious and will come in to check you out and hopefully swim in front of your spear. When they do you have your shot otherwise you will need to stalk them which can be much harder and you need to employ the same tactics as when snapper snooping. If they are not coming in to you close enough to take a shot try hiding your eyes or looking away from them.