How to Choose your Mesh Size

How to Choose your Mesh Size

How to select your Mesh Size for your Target Fish

Based on Mike Moore's (Action Outdoors Ltd) fishing experience, he recommends the following mesh size for a set or a drag net. For further information to assist you in the understanding of mesh sizes please refer to the up to date Auckland Regulations. These recommendations are relevant to the Auckland and Kermadec Fishery Management Area - as per the Ministry for Primary Industries designated fishing areas. 

These recommendations are also based on the small boat fishing and pulling nets by hand not deeper than 10-15m of water.  (Action Outdoors Ltd) does not recommend setting deeper than 15m as skills and strength required would be greater than the average person’s abilities and most small boats are not designed to handle nets especially in areas of a strong tide.  Eg. In one area where Mike fished commercially, he could only fish on the weak tides every couple of weeks.  Even in this situation, the strain on the fishing nets and net-haulier at 50m deep were equivalent to another area - 200m deep with almost no tidal flow.

Target Fish:   Grey Mullet and Kahawai

  • For all West Coast and East Coast harbours:  90mm 3.625inch x 60m
  • For the East Coast outside of harbours: 100mm 4-inch x 60m. These fish are larger than inner harbour fish.
  • For all coasts and harbours: 85mm x 40m dragnet only.
  • Drag or Set  90mm x 40m. With this size net, you can set in areas where legal and drag in areas where legal. For example, in some dragnet areas, you may not be able to use a set net. Therefore this size gives you the flexibility to either drag or set net. This is an economical way to buy one net with two net methods.

Target Fish:   Parore and Kahawai in kelp areas

  • For all areas, we recommend 125mm 5inch. This means you can keep all Flounder, Porare, Red Cod, Red Moki, Red Snapper, Snapper, Trevally, Tarakihi, and John Dory which may be present as well.
Target Fish:  Parore and Kahawai on mud banks.
  • We recommend the 125mm / 5inch.  But if you are absolutely sure there is no by-catch you can use 118mm, but in the warmer months it would be rare to get no by-catch and the smaller the mesh the harder to get the Parore out. 
Target Fish:   Flounder
  • Action Outdoors Ltd recommends 125mm mesh due to the previous reasons.  This is legal for all by-catch.  If you only have Sand Flounder and no by-catch you can go down to 118mm. Commercial use is 125mm.
Target Fish: Snapper and Trevally
  • Action Outdoors Ltd recommends 5.5inch 135mm if you want large Snapper, Blue Moki, Rig, Trevally, Red Snapper. This will let most other fish swim through which you do not want anyway.
  • This size will give you snapper in the 350mm size range.

Action Outdoors Ltd does recommend setting nets over more than one change of light period, especially in the warmer months. e.g. Summer daylight time allows predators to eat the evening catches through the night.  Besides sharks, this includes the stingray’s, octopus, many shellfish and crabs. If the fish are dead they will start to deteriorate in quality very quickly in the warm water. Therefore, if you set your net in the late afternoon you should pick up the net just after dark as you will not get much more fish through the night. Fish will feed and move again in the morning with the change of light.

Commercially with the advent of Daylight Colour Radars, Sounders and GPS plotters, we have generally found it better to set well after dark for better quality live fish.

Dragnets for piper and bait fish you want the smallest legal mesh 1 inch. As this means you can release any fish unharmed that you do not want. If your mesh is too big then fish will gill themselves and will not survive being removed out of the net.

For herring drag nets with no piper, we do 1.25,1.5, 2, 2.25, and 2.5 inches. You need to work out what is best for your area or bay as fish sizes vary greatly from bay to bay.

For herring & pilchard set nets the most common size is 2, 2.25 and 2.5 inches.  Some people use 3 inches.  Again only you can work out the best mesh size based on your experience as fish sizes vary greatly from bay to bay.

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Updated: KLM 11 Aug 2014