Three sampling methods for estimating abundance and size of blue cod Parapercis colias were compared inside and outside Kapiti Marine Reserve, New Zealand (40° 49′ 31·77′′ S; 174° 55′ 02·87′′ E). Two baited methods, baited underwater video (BUV) and experimental angling (EA), were more efficient and had lower levels of estimate variation than diver-based underwater visual census (UVC). The BUV and EA recorded more fish and of greater size ranges than UVC, and also had fewer zero count replicates. The BUV and EA methodologies revealed highly significant differences in abundance and size of fish between sites (reserve v. non-reserve), whereas UVC revealed no such differences. These results indicate that BUV is likely to be the most accurate, cost-effective and easy to use methodology for the surveying of carnivorous temperate reef fishes for future monitoring. It is noted, however, that new data acquired using the BUV methodology may need to be compared over a calibration period to data acquired using the UVC methodology to ensure that historical data sets derived from UVC still have validity and application for future monitoring activity.