Most customers tend to choose the minimum mesh size as specified by the current regulations.
This is normally due to the MPI telling fishermen this is the minimum mesh size for the fish they want to catch.
Unfortunately in practice that is not quite the case.
All the MPI is advising you with regards to mesh size as per regulations, is the minimum size you can use, not necessarily the best practical size to use.
Mesh size has always been determined so to give the target fish sufficient time to grow and to be sexually mature. Therefore giving them X amount of years of breeding before they risk getting caught.
As all inshore bottom fish have well-defined areas they like to breed and feed in, it’s reasonably easy to be selective with mesh and net type to catch what you want.
Mesh size is a lot more fish size specific as opposed to fishing hooks which have no guiding regulations. In our experience having the minimum size mesh in your net may be counterproductive.
I have been lucky enough over my 50-year fishing career to be able to experiment with many mesh sizes, mesh types, mesh colour and mesh-twine thickness. This is due to us being able to target all popular and non-popular fish from water depth’s of 1m to 300m deep on the NZ East Coast from East Cape to North Cape. Action Outdoors Limited can now pass this practical knowledge on via the manufacturing of the nets we make for our huge range of customers.
Another misconception we have found is that customers would like to have a multi-purpose set net to catch all the popular eating fish. Current fishing regulations make that impractical and even if there was no mesh size regulation this would not a practical option.
For example; if you had a small mesh set net to catch sprats then any snapper caught would be too small to eat and if you had a snapper net to catch reasonably sized snapper, then fish like mullet, kahawai, sprats, and mackerel would swim straight through the mesh.
Here is one of the interesting things we found (quite by mistake I might add). Once early on in the late 1970’s, I made a set net that had a very large mesh (145mm) compared to what all the other current fisherman were using close to Auckland. A lot of fishermen used (116mm) mesh. I had just moved from the Manukau Harbour, brought a bigger boat complete with nets and the previous owner had continued to work with me as a deckhand. The supplier had sent me the wrong size mesh so I thought I try it anyway.
I was catching a lot more fish than previously, the fish weighed four times as much as a normal legal minimum sized fish that we used to catch and indirectly I had four times less work in a normal day as it was less work to take out one large fish than 4 small ones. I also found with this size mesh the fish stayed alive so the quality of the fish was much better. From that day on I tried many different larger mesh sizes types and colours with some amazing results.
So just to reiterate what I advised at the beginning, although Mr Government says you can use mesh size X this does not always mean it is the best size for your target fish. Your own experience is more important. If you feel you would like to try catching bigger Flounder, Kahawai, Mullet, then Action Outdoors Ltd would suggest that start trying one mesh size bigger in your nets.
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Updated: KLM 11 Aug 2014