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Welcome to Earl Grey Fishing Charters as featured on Sir Peter Blake’s Favourite Places Documentary

Based in the beautiful Bay of Islands, Northland, New Zealand, less than 3 hours drive north of Auckland. Dotted with 144 islands and a myriad of secluded beaches, the entire region offers a fantastic opportunity to fish in waters that are rich with an abundance of sealife!

And for action fishing amidst these waters you can’t go past Captain Steve Butler. Steve has a worldwide reputation as a professional saltwater fishing guide. As one of the most experienced charter fishing guides in the Bay of Islands, with over 30 years local knowledge backing him, Steve knows where to take you for the best opportunity to catch your fish of choice.

We offer a full range of fishing options tailored to suit everyone’s individual needs including saltwater fly, light tackle, live baiting and jig fishing. Both novice and experienced anglers are catered for on our charters. As your fishing guide, Steve offers expert local knowledge for the discerning angler and patient tuition for the novice to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to land their catch.

Species available to the recreational fisherman whilst fishing aboard the Earl Grey II include

  • Yellowtail Kingfish
  • Snapper
  • Hapuka (Groper)
  • Trevally
  • Golden Snapper
  • Mao Mao
  • Marlin
  • John Dory
  • Tuna
  • Sharks
  • Kahawai, New Zealand’s Trout of the Sea

Not surprisingly, these waters also attract Dolphin, Orca and various other Whales. Southern Ocean bird life can also be seen throughout the year including Albatross, Sooty Shearwaters and Pacific Blue Penguins.
*** Pick up from Paihia, Waitangi or Russell Wharf ***
We are committed to providing best fishing opportunities and customer satisfaction. Your Captain Steve has a reputation for putting in the extra effort to make your day a success. Our excellent return clientele is testimony to this.

So for the best action fishing in the Bay of Islands come fish with us aboard Earl Grey II.


Yellowtail Kingfish/ Reef fishing

Live baiting for Yellowtail Kingfish is one of Steve’s forte’s. Pound for pound these fish have to be one of the greatest fighting fish in the ocean.
When targeting Yellowtail Kingfish, Steve will initially hunt out patches of live bait amongst the Inner Islands. Anglers will now get their first taste of fishing. Here Sabiki Fly rigs are used on a rod and reel to catch Jack Mackerel or Slimey Mackerel

The novice angler will find Steve gives plenty of tuition while catching live bait – a great chance to become familiar with the procedure before having to do battle with kingies.

These small mackerel are held in the live bait tank with a constantly replenishing supply of seawater so that they remain as lively as possible to attract the true bounty, Kingfish. It is then onto deeper waters where a combination of live bait, cut bait, jigs (lures) or even balloons may be used depending on weather and sea conditions, fish feeding patterns and any other influencing factors indicated on recent fishing expeditions. Not only do the live bait attract Kingfish, they also tend to attract shark action for some added excitement at various times of the year. Our angler to the right is holding up the evidence of a hungry shark or two!

Snapper/ Bottom fishing

If you prefer to target Snapper we have trips available for you to join as part of a shared group charter or make up you own group for the sole charter option. Snapper fishing trips are generally within the inner bay depending on the length 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 (artificial rubber like teasers) can also be effective for those experienced anglers keen to preserve.


Marlin and Tuna are very seasonally in the Bay of Islands unlike other gamefish such as Yellowtail Kingfish that are available all year round. Our season ranges from January to April 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 libe baiting, trolling with skip baits (whole dead fish) and lures. A day trolling for these big gamefish can seem overly laided 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. Anglers who have tagged and released fish will be notified if this fish is captured any time in the future.

Day Memberships with the Bay of Islands Swordfish Club can be organized for those anglers wishing to target line class species while fishing aboard Earl Grey II.

General Fishing Information

  • Exclusive charters available
  • Or join a shared group charter
  • Family groups with children welcome
  • Both experienced and novice anglers catered for
  • Why not pack a picnic and make a day of it.

Quality fishing tackle provided although anglers are welcome to bring their own gear if they wish. Please let us know at the time of booking if this is the case.

All fish belong to the angler. We release on request. Day membership with Bay of Islands Swordfish Club can be arranged if you wish to target line class species.

Smoking, canning or vacuum packing your catch by arrangement

Morning tea/coffee provided

Pickup from Paihia, Waitangi or Russell

We can also help organize accommodation to suit your requirements including bed & breakfast, lodges and top quality hotels and motels.

Sustainability Protocol

We have a genuine interest in the conservation of a balanced marine ecosystem. Over past years Steve has been involved in data collection for NIWA (New Zealand’s National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research).

In the interest of perpetuation of our local fish stocks, we encourage the release of all fish species not required for eating purposes.

Steve has developed a responsible catch and release option whereby the terminal tackle setup ensures hookups in the corner of the fish’s mouth plate.Fish are handled with care to ensure they can be released in prime condition to maintain maximum survival rates.