Colloquial names; Piper (the most common name in use in New Zealand)
Widespread around New Zealand. While it is a superb eating fish most of these fish are used as bait. Average size 20-25 cm, but reaching at least 40 cm.
Piper are caught by drag netting, or using bait.
The bait I use most often needs to be prepared before the trip.
Slowly add cooking oil to about a full cup of flour and mix, till it forms a thick paste about the consistency of plasticine, or Play-Doh. Even better is to use fish oil, or the oil from a can of tuna or sardines.
Mould the bait around the bend of the hook, trout hooks are best, so it forms a shape and size much like a grain of cooked rice.
For a wider look at using bait, see Better Bait Basics.
Piper are great eating, the flesh somewhat resembling flounder. To prepare for eating rub off the scales, then using your thumbnail run down stomach to the anus, this should clear out the innards. (Actualy, I leave the scales on, they add an extra light crunch, and they are good for you.) Then, and without pressing too hard roll each side of the fish with a rolling pin.
Now either grille the fish on a barbecue or under the griller. When cooked and it does not take long, just gently bend the fish away from the spine, and the spine and ribs just pop out.
Another way after doing all the preparation steps above, is to cut a small slit just ahead of the tail, bend the Piper and poke the beak through the slit. Cooking should pop the spine and ribs out.