Captain Steve Butler has a worldwide reputation as a professional saltwater fishing guide and the most experienced charter fishing guide in the Bay of Islands, backed up by over 40 years charter fishing and local expertise.
Steve knows where to take you for the best chance of catching your desired species. From Kingfish to Snapper, there’s something for everyone.
Whether you want a private charter or want to join a shared charter group, our objective is to give everyone with the greatest possible personalised fishing experience.
Steve caters to both novice and experienced fisherman, providing great local knowledge for the discerning angler and patient instruction for the novice to ensure that everyone has an equal chance of landing their catch.
Earl Grey II, our 36-foot vessel, is purpose-built to the highest standards, with a particularly roomy cockpit and practical design that makes it the ultimate fishing machine.
*6.5 hour & 8.5 hour trips – Sole or shared charters available
Steve’s speciality is live baiting for Yellowtail Kingfish. These fish have to be among the best fighters in the ocean, pound for pound.
When looking for Yellowtail Kingfish, Steve will first look for spots of live bait around the inner islands. Anglers will now have their first experience with fishing. Sabiki Fly rigs are used on a rod and reel to catch Jack Mackerel or Slimey Mackerel in this location.
The novice angler will find Steve provides of instruction when catching live bait – a great opportunity to become acquainted with the method before battling Kingies.
These little mackerel are kept in a live bait tank with a regular supply of saltwater to keep them as active as possible in order to attract the genuine bonanza, Yellowtail Kingfish.
Then it’s on to deeper seas, where a combination of live bait, cut bait, jigs (lures), or even balloons may be employed, depending on weather and sea conditions, fish eating habits, and any other influencing elements identified on previous fishing excursions.
Not only do the live baits attract Kingfish, but they also seem to draw shark action at certain times of the year.
A Kiwi angler’s choice for the table
If you prefer to target Snapper we have excursions available for you to join as part of a shared group charter or make up your own group for the sole charter option.
Snapper fishing excursions are generally within the inner bay depending on the duration of your charter.
Pilchards, squid and mackerel are the most common bait used but the odd live bait is always handy as big Snapper are quite partial to these tempting morsels.
Ledger and strayline rigs are predominantly used for this species but jigs and soft baits can also be effective for those experienced anglers keen to preserve.
Big game species such as Marlin and Tuna are seasonally in our waters.
Our season ranges from January to May with February/March being the best months for more dependable results. Water temperatures need to be consistently around 18° – 21° C. When warm currents move in from the North to Easterly quarter over our summer months they bring with them a good supply of bait fish such as Ocean Garfish, Sauri, Squid, Nautilis Octopus, Skipjack Tuna and Frigate Mackerel.
Following this valuable food source are the big predators. Surface bird activity and bait balls on the fish finder indicate hot spots for these large predators. Methods used include live baiting, trolling with skip baits (whole dead fish) and lures.
A day trolling for these big gamefish can seem laid back until you have a hit…. Then it is all action with an adrenaline rush to match. Once hooked up your crew will guide you through the process of landing your fish or releasing it to fight another day.
I.G.F.A. rules must be adhered to for anglers wishing to weigh in and record their catch.
Day Memberships with the Bay of Islands Swordfish Club can be organized for those anglers wishing to target line class species.
The Bay of Islands offers areas of abundant surface fish making this an excellent location for saltwater fly fishing.
Earl Grey II is the ideal vessel for saltwater fly fishing with an extremely generous uncluttered cockpit and sunken cleats for unobstructed fishing.
With good manoeuvrability, Earl Grey II ensures excellent sites can be targeted in varying conditions.
When fish are not present on the surface, chum or berley can be used to draw the fish up. Positioning of a vessel is then of the utmost importance due to currents, tides and breeze.
Species of particular interest include Kahawai, Yellowtail Kingfish and Trevally. Kahawai (known as New Zealand’s Sea Trout) is a speedster renowned for offering a challenging fight to light tackle and flyfishermen alike.
Various other species including Luderick, Koheru (Blue Mackerel), Maomao, and Snapper can also be successfully targeted with fly gear in our waters.
Quality tackle is provided but if you wish to bring your own gear we suggest tackle varying from 8 or 9 to 10 weight with shooting taper or rocket taper heads on either floating or medium sinking(#1) lines. Fast (#2) or ExtraFast (#3) line may be of advantage when targeting Yellowtail Kingfish
An all year-round fishing excursion in deeper water.
Species that may be caught on this fishing option include Pink and Blue Maomao, Golden Snapper, Scorpion Fish, Pigfish, Leatherjacket, Blue Cod, Parrot Fish along with Snapper and Trevally.
Get a group together to enjoy fishing the reefs in our waters for these delicious species.
Take the kids fishing for a great family outing on the water
Steve enjoys introducing young people to the fun of fishing and hopefully getting the future generation “hooked” on fishing for life. It is never too early to start.
Whether they are joining you while you target that big Kingfish or Snapper fishing, Steve can offer fishing methods best suited to their age and abilities.
Life jackets are available even for the youngest. Let us know their age and weight when you book so we can ensure the most appropriate life jacket is available for them.