An intriguing and challenging fish, and despite being relatively abundant, the blue moki with its particular eating habits means it must be specifically targeted. It fights strongly and provides firm yet slightly flaky flesh.
The blue moki has a banded blue-grey livery, with sides flashing a chrome grey. It reaches a good size – in excess of 9kg, but anything over 5kg is considered a big specimen. On average they reach 55-70cm in length and the oldest fish can reach 30 years of age.
Blue moki occur right the way up to the Three Kings Islands, but are much more numerous in the cooler southern waters. Annually, around August, Moki from all over New Zealand make spawning migrations to the Gisborne area and one tagged fish was shown to have moved over 500km. Though occasionally found lurking in caves or under ledges, moki are more commonly found swimming over sand-floored canyons or schooling near reasonably shallow, reefy areas up to depths of 150m. Moki mainly grub around in the sand and mud after crabs and other crustaceans, as well as shellfish and worms, so are rarely caught by accident.
Success in fishing for blue moki is much more assured if the moki's preferred foods are used as baits. Though they often hold near rocks and reefs, they mostly feed in the nearby sand, fine gravel or mud, so select areas that have these very different environments in close proximity to one another.
Baits of cray tail and/or shellfish - mussel and tuatua - are placed on a ledger rig with sharp 2/0 to 3/0 hooks on short branching droppers. Tie these baits on to the hooks with cotton to help them resist the pickers and, after casting, place the rods into deeply and firmly imbedded rod holders, with the reel's drag on - but not set too hard. Wait for the rod to bend, then enjoy the ensuing fight.