Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day II - watching waves

A bit of a sleep-in was justified but ultimately hardly helped our cause... I was awake at 4am but its not particularly civil to wake other people up at super early times so it was after 7 before I re-awoke. Si and Greig were up and about and Nik followed soon after. A bit of muesli and we set about making lunches. Round about then Nik and Si start talking ping-pong. Seems that they have unearthed in each other a love of hitting the little white ball, so soon we're finishing off the table Nik's been building and then passing up the bits to Nik's deck. Then they're off! It's Kung-Fu-Chu Vs the Pale Paddle Pirate!

Meanwhile I check the forecasts and they seem to strangely (ehem) diverge from reality. "10 kt SE easing" doesn't quite match with the tree rattling breeze. We get out there about 11.30 and poking the nose around the corner we know that Mayor and Penguin are out so try for Motiti to see if we can find something over the reefs. But the breeze freshens and we're soon bashing into chop that's just short of white-capping. I'm a bit worried for Simon but his Paihia Bombs seem to be working, plus he's got crystallised ginger onboard. We pull the pin and decide to just drift and deploy burley to see if we can get a shark up. I rig one of Simon's flies with a wire leader and he rigs the Super 14 on his big rod. Soon a good mako turns up. Fresh chomp marks around his head indicate some sort of run in with a bigger bitie. He stays with us for about 30 minutes, all the time ignorning the fly that's dangling so yummily in his face. Grieg fed the fly to it, stripped it, dropped it on his nose. Again vis was crap with breaking waves so several times we lost sight of him for good periods of time. Eventually the burley ran out so we kicked off for home.

I took my leave early so I could get home to have tea with the family. A slight detour to drop off some wading boots that Nik had sold to Simon Runting (we arranged a fishing trip) and I was home. Nice thing about fly fishing is that there reaely is a big mess to tidy, no sticky stinky bait etc so everything was packed away before 6.

Great couple of days, pity about the weather!

Heaving flies & heaving seas

Got up early on Friday, not much new about that. Drove to Paeroa and stopped in to see the folks, have a bite and then down town (hahahahaaa this is Paeroa) to look at the boat the old man is interested in. 5m cuddy type boat, nicely constructed, no frills. Seems to me to be a bit heavy and unwieldy for swamp work but he seems to want it. Definitely a better ocean going boat than the Rusty Rocket but with only a 70 horse on its bum will be moderately powered, hardly exciting. Then on the road again, through to Waihi stopping in to check a few pools on the Ohinemuri. Saw a small 'bow on the feed and a brownie tucked away down deep in a big pool. Moving on to Tauranga, been a while between visits so its always nice to arrive in one of my favourite places. Nik arrived soon after I got there, so we decided to go down to Sulpher Park Marina and see if we could see the mullet swimming around - oh yeah! Quickly hatched a plan to kid myself even further that I could take one on fly, I've put a whole bunch of time and effort into this passtime, never with great results (I once caught one on a silicon smelt, but wasn't fishing for them so can only count as accidental by-catch). Backing up a bit, we spent some time walking around looking at boats of various shapes and sizes, and the occasional mullet put in an appearance. At the northern end we began to find them in shoals so biffed in couple of handfuls of crushed pipi shells which didn't unduly disturb them; nor excite them greatly. They swam in circles like tarpon, or aligned like fighter jets swooping the bottom of the marina, we could see the disturbed mud billowing up. Then swimming to the surface they would expel mud from their gills, jettisoning the waste they had picked up. In places we watched one or two with their faces jammed on the bottom, tails up in the water column. This behaviour reminds me a lot of the mullet in Milford Marina, same action, same impossible to catch behaviours. Same 'go on have a shot' attitude.

So have a shot I did, first with a bread fly that I tied exactly for this situation. Not having any bread for burley was probably not the best strategy, but heck. I got in a dozen shots of good or ok quality, but nope. Couldn't get any interest. Switching to a BMS (Bullen Merrey Special [sp]) one of Muz Wilsons weed-type-dragon-fly-larvae-type whatever the fish mistakes it for flies got equal response.

Then out of the 'depths' of the marina came a short tailed sting ray of impressive size, On a 6 weight? Of course you have to try these things.

Ok so I'm actually a tad relieved that it didn't scoop up the fly which bounced over its snout because quite frankly exploding fly rods and destroyed reels and frayed fly lines aren't very special experiences.

After a bite at a cafe we headed back home to set up the boat, some rods, lines etc. Simon and his mate Greig arrive in a flurry of hand shakes, man-hugs and tackle. All of a sudden boxes of flies are produced, along with reels, rods and the realisation that we're going to have to leave some stuff at home. So we settle on Si's 11 Xi2, 9 Scott STS, 9 Zed and my Xi2 8 and CTS 12. Eventually we hook up the boat to the prado and head off. Nik complains about how busy the ramp is - we had 3 lanes/ramps to choose from! Okahu Bay in a holiday means a 45 minute wait at busy times so I could see no reason to complain!!! Soon we're heading out on mild seas with a slight SE wind so boom our way across to Mayor and Tuhua Reef. No one's there. No sooner had we deployed the anchor than Nik's heaving a popper which is monstered by large kahawai and some kings in the 10 - 20 kg class. With constant wind, sighting fish is difficult but we begin to hook stuff. Chu's on the board first.

Grieg's challenged by all the normal stuff - strip striking, kingi jitters and casting the 12 but gets on top of it quickly and is soon throwing a nice long line. He misses a few takes and I develop dropsies in a big way, hooking up but losing fish through a bunch of stuff, even giving them lots of slack so the hook falls out. Then suddenly its all dead. Nothing in the burley. We've not managed a trev (although I had thought I'd struck one before it spat the fly), although Si has got a snap aboard. So we up anchor and head across to Penguin in sloppy but not totally unpleasant seas. Only one other boat out there but yes! A huge foaming krilling school of trevors is up on the top. We've got about an hour of good light left so waste no time in positioning Si and Grieg. Grieg's in first with a chunky fish, the belly on this thing is rotund.

Simon's krill fly is doing the damage and he's soon in to a fish. I'm dragging a crease fly through the densely packed fish and the ones I'm hooking are most likely fouled so I give it away in favour of the krill fly and boat a few. Grieg's taking his share and so's Si, and the suddenly its getting hard to see the fish and they're down as the sounder reveals.

We're on our way back in semi darkness and the full moon is shining brightly in our boat wake. A couple of beers, a venison and rice dinner and its 11.30 before we hit the hay.

Good times.

Monday, January 25, 2010

'StatChu Bro?

Phone rings and is answered in deepest darkest Dunedin.

"Knock knock"

"Who's there"


"Statue who?"

"'StatChu bro?! Haaarr hahahahaaaa"

Yes, a call to Simon Chu may go something like that. (A demonstration of my rapier-like wit).

He's a fly fishing freak, and a friend and aficionado of some fine anglers that I know. Best of all he's a good dude and not a whacker like some fly fishing freaks can turn into when they reach the giddy heights of international recognition. Even as a Sage endorsed angler he doesn't push Sage down everyone's throats, more he manages to put in the good word without pimping the stuff - a pretty fair achievement in comparison to some of the overseas guys who simply reek of product sponsorship and can't be relied on for objectivity if it gets in the way of endorsement.

Somehow we've not managed to get our shit together and fish together, I mean we've had lunch, I've bought gear off him, he's sent me flies, hooks, offered advice, all in all he just spreads the word and the love. And more than once he's chucked a fly in my path, with invitations to visit the deep south. Now, sweet mother of weather gods allowing, that could change this weekend, as we will both be in the same place at once, and so will Nik. I'm looking forward to this!

Talking of weather gods, its looking nasty. 2.5m swell and 20 - 25 kt easterly - super. Coromandel beckons, or simply snapper fishing in the harbour on change of light - at least we have options. perhaps even an evening rise fish on one of the waters close by?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Around the pins with the Andrews

TT, Andy H and I hit the harbour last night in pursuit of kingis on fly and some snappers for tea. We launched at Okahu Bay and headed straight to Rough Rock. Andy and i rigged fly rods and first cast had fish chasing. I lost one almost immediately as it took me around the chain on the buoy and the fish seemed to have gone down. Across to 9 Buoy and again rats were present, TT lost what looked like a hog to a combination of a tangle in the running line and the chain on the buoy - this one had the big throb throb throb of a decent sized tail beating as the fish rolled on its side to beat the pressure of the rod. Across to TT's spot and we put a few casts in, kingis were there but no bites. Then a couple of hours of snapper drifting for a very few fish, nice ones though. The Nuclear Chicken did it again for me. TT then called it as kingi time, so back out with the fly rods. We all had a bit of fun, Andy H popping his kingi cherry with a couple of fish, I got several to the boat but without a landing net TT streadily broke them off using up my supply of Mega Mushies. I think we hooked about 10, landed 7 and had a ball. Back to the vice I think, and next time I'll probably just use the 8 weight.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Swamp mission

All in all a very good not too heavy trip. Andrew and Paul dug the sump as requested by DOC while Tom and I set up the sprayer. Unfortunately the firing end of the spray gun came adrift, losing the end washer thingy in the process. Tom fashioned a new one out of a soft drink cap. We sprayed the Willow pond drain and dragged back the buttercup and gave it a decent spray at Bollocks and around the islands. All in all not the most difficult of trips!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

More Farkin Qantas

Ok ok I should just move on, I mean Qantas in NZ has, by replacing the 'flagship' brand with JetStar, their low cost equivalent. Low cost equivalent indeed, I reckon its just a foil for continued chaos. I flew JetStar 6 times last year and once it flew on time. Woohoo! Luckily we have a lowest cost travel policy which gives me Pacific Blue and (once in a blue moon) Air NZ as options.

So I was relatively amused and not at all suprised to read this.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Kayaking for snaps

The experts say that water temp exceeded 18 deg over the past 10 days, accounting for the snapper 'switching off' the bite as they got into their spawning activities. Add in the huge boat pressure in and around the Ak channels AND the full moon and you've got a challenging set of circumstances. 5.30 yesterday saw me at Narrowneck with a contingent of other yak fishos and small boat owners. Got set up and began paddling. Tide was dead low when I set off and by the trime I made the shipping channel was booming in. Didn't check the tide charts but with big moon I'm picking a good sized tide as well. The wind stayed away - pattern has been calm mornings with breeze speringing up late morning and stiffening in the afternoons. I never time the paddle out, but in the dark its a good place to be. Bait fish sprayed the surface in several places. The new sounder needed some tuning but I got it to where I was satisfied. Stopped by #10 buoy and began to scan the bottom looking for sign. Sporadic mid water (5-7m) schools indicated baitfish, the snaps look more like squiggles on the bottom. I only brought along the softbait outfit, normally I hedge my bets with cut bait as well, maybe its because I'm not all that comfortable fishing lures only. Call it the cutting of the umbilical cord, soft baits only make a lot of sense - no dicking around with cut baits (everything in a kayak is double the finicketiness), no managing 2 rods as well as paddle. So this trip was to cut the smelly bait cord as it were. The tide was scooting and the drogue was useless, with no breesze I just scooted along. Staying on top of schools was impossible, in the course of playing a single fish I would be taken 50 metres. Spent a lot of time repositioning, not so much time catching fish. Got 5 for the morning & kept 2. Bite time was early and 4 of the fish were taken before 7 am. The next 90 minutes coughed one fish, several plucks on the softie and not much else. Dropping the bait intro the bottom hugging schools proved fruitless - those babies had their jaws clamped shut. The pasddle back was harder than it should have been, a NW had sprung up and with even with the tide weakening it was hard going against wind & tide. Home before 10 and cleaned up the gear and fish. Crumbed snapper - yum!

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Foiled again. This has been a mutha of a year for fishing with Nik, weather has systematically destroyed each and every one of our fishing plans. Aiming for a kayak fish tomorrow morning in the Rangi Channel, maybe can get some fresh snaps & test the new sounder (new in the off season).

Preparing for Mr. Kingi

I like BIG flies for kingis. Lots of experts say a 2/0 or smaller is fine but I want the fly to get noticed and to get bitten. I'm fishing with Nik tomorrow and maybe Monday, we'll go looking for a marlin and then fish the evening kingi rise on one of the shoals. Not that I'm short of flies but I tied some up in preparation.

Mega Mushies in 4/0

Got lots of WR leaders tied, may as well fish IGFA legal as there's every chance of a big one turning up. Need a fish of about 25kg to get things going on that front.

Generic Kahawai type fly, again 4/0

Hope the weather gods play fair.

Friday, January 1, 2010

First of the 1st

Got in a New Year's trout trip today. Travelled down to a mate of Tim's place to fish a stream I'd read and thought about, funnily enough its never jumped to top of mind when thinking "hmmmmm where to go tomorrow". Based on today I will go back, maybe a couple of shots a season would be about right. Its a gravel and small boulder pastoral stream and I was lucky to be there 2 days after a fresh - it was mint. Leaving the car up at GD.308's place I walked down stream and rigged up a parachute dry with a trailing nymph and began to prospect. After a perfectly pleasant 5 hours on the water I'd covered less than 2 km and hit at least 20 fish, landing 11. Plenty slashed at the dry and missed, which will give some indication of the nature of the stream, that sort of thing is typical in those fast flowing waters. Fish of the day (there are 2!) a spanking 4.5lb brown that was sitting right where he should have been at the tail of a long slow pool. I didn't have my net but had my hand around his tail before he gave a violent wiggle and dislodged the fly... and me. No matter, touched him so I'll count him as landed. The 'bows were fat as harry the horse and one guy gave me the hell upstream boring run through 2 more pools before I landed him. In fact that was the last fish of the day and a great way to end.

May 2010 continue in this vein!