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.
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