On this year’s trip to the islands, Andy would come along in Karl’s place – Karl having used his brownie points up on his recent trip to Brazil. Andy, the unofficial mayor of Turangi, fly fishes 300+ days per year and consequently was able to get up to speed pretty quickly. We’d booked the same accommodation as the previous year, the house on the hill with the deadly slippery driveway – quite lethal when wet which seemed to be 100% of the time last year…
We met in the airport lounge early on day one, caught up, grabbed some rums and got stuck in. I was food mule this year, using my extra baggage allowance to carry a poly box full of food. Jase used his to bring along an inflatable SUP. Our main bags were crammed with fishing boots, rods, reels, flies and leaders. We were ready.
By late afternoon we’d landed, been picked up by our hostess, grabbed our transport for the week (scooters) and headed out on the nearest flat. We’d be fishing on our own for the first 3 days followed by 5 days of guided fishing. I headed out to he right to give the other guys space. It was cloudy which combined with bonefish camo was going to make spotting really really difficult. That afternoon I spotted 2 fish but both had made me first and got their asses into gear and boosted out. As we left the flat, Andy began casting into the deep hole beside the fishing club and soon hooked and landed the first bone of our trip, a respectable 4lb fish.
Over the next few days we each fished either with Jason, using Gary The Crab (The SUP) to access a flat across a shipping channel, or around the various accessible flats. On day 3 I travelled across the channel with Jase on GTC and it was there that I caught my first bone for the trip, having bust one on the strike a bit earlier. And it was a really good fish that ran long and wide into the backing, ripping out at least 250m on the first run before dogging. The second run burned the backing knot through the tip again and then the fish circled wide before Jase was able to tail him, a bright 26” fish estimated @ ~8lb.
Other adventures included catching a Brassy Trevally that I’d initially called a small GT. Turned out to be a really good specimen too.
The days seemed to blur together and so did the happenings; one day as Andy and I drove the dreaded driveway I heard a noise, turned around and saw him tipped downhill with the scooter almost atop him. Somehow his rod had caught an overhanging tree and flipped him. Luckily there were no broken bones, although he did retire from the fray with a stiff neck and shoulder. On the first Saturday evening, our pursuit of nightlife led us to the Golf Club, which was like a shack in the back blocks. We navigated by fluorescent red light across the course; Tim and I narrowly avoiding driving across the 18th green while Andy and Jase were unable to avoid driving on the hallowed grass. We got bollocked!
Later in he week, Andy who is terribly allergic to bee stings, was attacked and bitten twice by a hornet. Soon he was swelling (which persisted all week) and vomiting, and without his epi pen was in a degree of trouble. However after hydration he was able to continue to fish, although the after effects of the stings bothered him for the rest of the trip.
Our first guided day saw Andy and I teamed up and we had a ripper day. By lunch we had gone fish for fish with 3 bones landed each. At times, schools of large bones accessed the flat we stalked with Ty and Varu poling the skiff, and their 2 sets of eyes gave us so much opportunity to position our flies. With a more or less constant breeze getting a pinpoint cast in was difficult, but we managed on most occasions to make our shots count.
At lunch we caught up with Tim and Jase, who had both hooked and lost GTs in hand to hand combat in the coral. After their early GT excursion, they’d fished nearby but were yet to hook a bone. They related that as they were fishing deeper water, they struggled to sink their flies fast enough to get them in harm’s way. That afternoon, Andy and I caught a few more to finish the day with 10 bones landed, quite simply and epic and unusual day numbers wise.
|cruising pet GT|
We’d hatched a GT plan so the following day Andy and I teamed again. We walked a reef section over the lowering tide. The current was fierce, and I was nervous as we approached gutters that emptied the lagoon over the reef into pretty much the open ocean. We stalked through rough broken and live coral patches. With difficult overhead conditions, I just wasn’t seeing anything. We got back on the boat and spent the day poling for bones with some success.
Over the next couple of days we mixed the teams up and I fished with Jason and Tim respectively. Fishing with Jase and Tia our day began with a session casting not bommies in the lagoon, while waiting for rainstorms over the outer reef to clear. I managed a stroppy small blue trev.
On our reef walk I spotted and cast to a large GT but stuffed up my cast and spooked him. I stood atop a small bommie and watched the fish randomly cruise towards me while my fly was hung up in the coral. The fish passed a rod length away, a large blue knee knocking finger trembling moment indeed! We lunched onboard and spent the rest of the day searching for GTs (no luck) before heading for a flat to find bones. With my last opportunity of the day I managed a large bone, identical in length to my previous large fish @ 26”, roughly 8lb of bone.
On what turned out to be our final guided day, Tim and I headed out with Varu. Again the day started with a reef walk for GTs, with nothing seen. Tim pulled a couple f blues from a gutter and then we spent some time working trigger fish. Little did we know that on Jason and Andy’s boat, there was a huge amount of excitement that Andy had rigged appropriately, cast for and landed a large trigger, a first for E2’s operation! Tim and I were privileged to be taken hunting crabs that afternoon and the boys soon secured us our dinner. We ate crab and parrot fish with veges for dinner and it was food fit for kings.
Celebrations that night went into the wee small hours…. And as we talked and celebrated so did the weather change. Wind blew in and he roofing iron on the house began to lift and flap.
The following morning we received the call we had expected, guiding was off. We took it easy preparing breakfast. Jase and Tim would take GTC across the channel and I decided to fish one of the iconic flats, involving a wade/swim, across a channel. I duly arrived. The wind howled and the only viable cast was a back cast off the flat into the depths. I felt it was the only option in the circumstances and was surprised to land 6 bones from 7 hooked. So while not classic bone fishing, it was my best day numbers-wise in this location.
So ended the fishing part of the trip… the socialising continued a while longer...