Tuesday, March 30, 2010

From the Secretary of Upper Piako Wetland Management Association

Mike O'Donnell's our user group secretary, and the AGM has come around again. Here's the newsletter:


It’s that time of the year, duckshooting is drawing near but the AGM is closer still. It will be at the usual venue, the Hauraki North Rugby Clubrooms, Waitakaruru, Wednesday, 7 April at 7.30pm. Attend and have your say. Raise any issues. Ask any questions. Your input is valued. Come and enjoy the evening.
Guest Speaker: John Gumbley, the Biodiversity Programme Manager for DoC will speak to us on the implications of the recent hydrological report and the subsequent ideas and intentions. He will have different maps of the area and you will be surprised at how close to sea level you are!!!
Grayson Reynolds from the Kopu Hunting & Fishing there with licences and a limited array of what shooters might want. He has his big night on Friday 23 April with specials, nibbles and a bar. Grayson will provide the raffle.
Flax Block Shooters: Peter Monrad has just repaired the track. Gate is locked after ‘pegging out’ day. Access up the track by quad only in order to preserve the bund/track which has been repaired and upgraded by us. The track has cost shooters $7,000 in the past 2 years to repair damage done by 4 x4s. DoC and the committee have erected a second gate at the “possum proof” gate as people cut the chain on the one at the Maukoro Landing.
Junior Shooters Ponds: Pete Monrad went in a cleaned around the banks and work was done on the maimais.
Water levels: Okay for a few but some ponds are dry. You can keep an eye on it from home by going into the Enviroment Waikato website and ‘bookmarking’ the Maukoro Landing rainfall site. Jan and March were dry. We have had 88 mls this year and 347 for the 4 months prior to that. Hopefu
Patetonga Lake: Steve Clark gathered the shooters as the weed has increased and reduced the water area by about a third. They are collectively buying the spray and application
Duck numbers: It has been an excellent breeding season so duck numbers are looking good for the season.
Duck banding: Over 2000 ducks were banded by Murray Fisher and an assorted array of volunteers in our region. Please be sure to hand in any bands or at least telephone in their numbers to Fish & Game.
Predator Control: We have Richard Henry traps available at the AGM. Self resetting, CO2 powered. $120
Tree planting: Another 250 kahikateas were planted opposite the Maukoro Landing in September.
Relationship with DoC: The committee been in regular contact with John Gumbley, the Programmes Manager and Amy McDonald, the field officer on a regular basis. We are ready to take the relationship to a new level and develop a Memorandum of Understanding. We need to move forward from the 1994 letter from the then Waikato Conservator, Stella Penney. DoC are clear about wanting a more consistent water level for the benefit of the biodiversity of the bogland so that is good news for duck shooters. Insurance Cover: A paid up member of the UPWMA has $1,000,000 Public Liability General Indemnity cover; $250,000 Statutory Liability Cover & $250,000 Public Liability Forest & Rural Fire Protection Cover. A big thanks to Dick Foster for arranging this for us.
Mark up Day: 4 April
Committee member nominations: If you want to nominate someone for the committee, please get your nominations back to the secretary by 6 April at 116 Regent Heights, Thames. Current elected members are: Steve Chapman, Murray Fisher, George Avery, Steve Clark, Dick Foster(Treasurer), John Smith and Mike Waterhouse. Seconded members: Mike O’Donnell nand Gordon Munroe; Projects subcommittee: George Avery, Steve Chapman, Murray Fisher, Mike Waterhouse Memorandum of Understanding subcommittee: John Smith, George Avery and Mike O’Donnell, Steve Chapman
Nomination form.
I hereby nominate …………………………………….. as a member of the Upper Piako Wetlands Association Committee.
Seconded by:…………………………………………………..
Membership subscriptions $15 per person. Please make sure all your party sign up because we need numbers to substantiate our claim as a user group or when we apply for funding, and on crucial occasions, a pressure group.
If you can not get to the AGM then send your subscription along with another member or post it to the secretary at 116 Regent Heights, Thames. You may even prefer to pay your sub prior to the AGM.


Telephone number:………………………………
Email Address........................................................................................…
Secretary’s email address is mike.odonnell@xtra.co.nz Cell: 0274363836


Thanks Mike. Good to see that we're working alongside the new DOC regime, the previous establishment was anti-hunting, anti-duck, anti-willow tree, anti anti anti ...anything. We all know their funding is cut, so it really does make much more sense to work with users rather than quash or try to obliterate our efforts. Given the profound lack of funds that they put towards us, the people who maintain water levels and the environment, trap the predators, keep noxious weeds at bay it is slightly gratifying to see that they may actually appreciate us. Enough chip on the shoulder stuff! Looking forward to the AGM next week.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pond Preparations

We knew that there was a hole around our main dam that holds the water through our ponds and the neighbour's system. But where? Around the main face there were no cavities or flow, nor around the edge that we suspected of leaking. We figured it was an eel hole. Eels are tough. The buggers are relentless when they find their way blocked and over a period of time find ways of boring through mud and clay and reaching the far side. Nothing anyone can do about that. So the plan was for me, Frank, Tom & dad to get into the ponds, fix the dam if possible, mark the ponds and put out the feeders. When we arrived we found that foot wide hole in the floor where rats had chewed away at rotten fibrebord - the leakiing roof had caused the board to turn to sort of a dusty weetbix. So Tom and Frank got on with repairs, while dad and I opened the dam and began to search for the leak. We finally found it, about 4 feet up and oppsite where we had suspected, a good sized eel hole. We jammed mud & concrete bags in and seemed to have blocked it quite well. Back to the hut we spent an hour cutting firewood to dry for the season.

A couple of jobs down. Even so we were now well into the afternoon, with the feeders to set up and marking up to do. We'd brought in 240kg of maize, the big feeder and a new one that dad had picked up for the western edge of the ponds. Marking up Bollocks on the way, we moved down and tagged Puru then went to put out the big feeder. Stariaght away I saw piggie tracks - never seen them here before. We put up the big feeder and loaded it.

Over to put out the new feeder, then we filled buckets to feed at Watson's, McLennan's, Willow and Park. Some of the maimais are pretty bare, we're going to need an absolute shit-load of tea tree this year. Park needs a heap (big maimai), McLennan's at least 10 bundles...

By now it was getting close to 4pm and I knew that it was a bigger day than i would have thought. The tide was below the boat ramp when we left to go home, but we managed to winch the boat on anyhow. Met Gus at the ramp, no water at all in the Big pond. Drought.

And overall, not that many ducks around. Would have been lucky to see 50.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Icy blasts, disgruntlement & black marlin

This week the first real southerly system since October arrived. The timing is both apt and eerie - apt because today duck licenses go on sales and eerie because all of a sudden the trigger finger has the big itch on and its brought back all this deja-vu stuff that I've suffered since I was a primary school kid with the duck season fast approaching. Restricted/denied access to resource is raising its ugly head again, and again its proving to be the issue of our time. Refer the situation where Iwi, in consultation with DOC have closed duck hunting access to the Pencarrow Lakes under the guise of 'stopping the spread of didymo' and 'protecting the giant kokopu".


I reckon that this is a bridge too far - I've long felt that supporters of shooting sports are more vocal, political and mobilised than anglers and the reaction to this will prove it. Politicos are on the band wagon and John Key has said 'sort it!' so maybe it will be. About time someone wound in the necks of those tree hugging fools in DOC. Maybe, just maybe I'll be able to visit and have a giant kokopu shoot.

On to the Kaingaroa, closed to sporting access subsequent to the transition of ownership from crown to Iwi. This situation is diaboloical - refer Easter F&G website for latest news & events (for some reason I can't get hyperlinks to work on my blog at the moment).

Although I hear through the grapevine that Iwi are pretty unhappy with the Kaingaroa situation, something big will have to change before Flaxy, Whio and Rangitaki are again viable summer fishing options. Oh, and as long as you only want to do weekends. Screw that. Pressure is on Eastern F&G to get something better sorted, because settling for this is just the thin end of the wedge.

Got off the plane at Ak airport last night, fired up the mobie and rang Marcia. While speaking a mini-flood of texts came in. Terminated the call and started reading:

1. "Moerewa!" - from Nik, our standard chit chat as he passes through the most god-awful township in NZ. (Barring Huntly. But Huntly has both trout and duck/goose shooting which gives it a distinct advantage).
2. "222.5 black marlin! Stoked!" - From Milo. I rang for the story. He woke up late, got on the blower to Roly who had a day off, so they set off for Astrolabe. Upon arriveal the skippes were being pushed smack bang onto the reef. Out with the soft plastics and 2 bridle rigged skippies were on the outriggers. 2 minutes later a strike - 2.5 hours later, a black marlin on the deck. Nice work fellahs!
3. "Roly and Miles caught 222 kg black marlin!" - From Nik. He and Roly fish together, amazing how good news spreads.

And to think last week i was saying the southerly will have killed off the marlin fishing. Just goes to show, if the food's there, they will be too

Monday, March 15, 2010

Stag do

Andy H's stag do was the big weekend event - and boy was it a laugh at times! Me, Tim and Paul met at Uncle Tom's place to pick up his boat, and despite our latish start we arrived at Whangamata before lunch, put our stuff in the bach, loaded the boat and headed down to the ramp where we met Andy and his bag of pillies. The wind was quite a stiff SW "gusting 30 kts" (who would have guessed?) from time to time. We headed north so didn't get too drenched, found the other bloke's boat and anchored upstream and upwind of them. We were bouncing a bit and while they seemed to have a steady stream of fish coming aboard, we struggled for a while. A few rig changes to stuff more appropriate to 20 m off ofshore as opposed to 14.5m of Rangi Channel, as well as letting out more anchor rope got us right into a patch of trevs. We all caught a few and then Paul's rod nodded deeply and stayed that way. He brought up a farkin horse sized Johnnie that had swallowed a baby snap - i told him to swing the rod tip to me so i could grab the Johnnie but he tried to lift the fish into the boat - it promptly spat the snap, momentarily floundered on the surface then dived away with a burst of speed that I had no idead a JD posessed. A few barely legal snaps tthen the other boys upped anchor and took off. We headed in-shore to flick a few flies, Tim caught some baby snaps then it was golf time. Back ashore a quick change of clothes, a divvy up of various ancient golf clubs and we set off. 4 teams of 2, Ambrose rules, and ample ale. Andy by now was in his stag regalia, a nice white dress with red dotty flowery things, a nice shade of red lipstick, hand bag, diamante tiara and a veil - quite fetching! General hilarity broke out as we burned up the course - worse for me was that even though i was relatively sobre I was the worst player by some margin! Whangamata golf course on a Saturday afternoon in March is a nice place to be, especially with a raving homo in a dress running around for entertainment. Back at base the evening progressed with games like "3 man" (involves a funny hat, rolling dice and the 3 man getting hammered as the rule book gets developed along the way), "what the f*ck" (involves the person being questioned to give a yes/no answer to a question that the group has to answer. Those in the group who answer the same as the questionee escape drinking)and regular shots of Jagermeister (sp) which tastes like sweet gear box oil with lots of alcohol content. The poor stag was getting obliterated, and there my tale ends because "what happens on tour..."

Needless to say that Sunday morning was a quiet affair. Nice to get on the water and spend time with the lads.

That southerly will have killed the marlin fishing dead though I reckon.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Getting old - the yow factor

Friday was a dog. Last day of month, a heap of work dramas, and only small positives to counter the balance - and then arrived home after the worst week for a long time to discover that my wallet was missing. Frantic calls to the bank to cancel my cards, another to a colleague to arrange to grab his access card for work so I could back track, a drive to his place in the back end of Albany Heights, another drive into town in peak traffic and a frantic run into the office. There was my wallet, under the desk. Back to the car, 20 minutes on the phone ‘uncancelling’ my credit card then back home arriving about 8. Still had to pack the yak for Saturday’s mission and then rattle up the fishing gear. Was after 9 before I was ready to sit down and work on tomorrow’s plan. Saturday I arrived at TT’s at 5.45am and kicked his ass out of bed. By 6.15 we had his yak onboard and were off on an amended mission, rather than the ‘African Queen’ adventure down the Ongarue we headed for another spot involving a yak trip up a feeder into a hydro lake. By 9.15 we were on the water heading upstream and as always in a new spot I spent time looking around. The paddle was really enjoyable. We pulled ashore just downstream of the first rapid system where TT told me that 3 weeks ago the water was a good 5m higher. He rigged his 4 weight with a bead head and indicator and I took the first stretch, hitting a fish almost immediately and that set the tone of the day. Swapping places he dragged one out and then we jumped back in the yaks and crossed the canyon and jumped out on the other side. A bush bash upstream, a dodgy crossing and we started up some really interesting water. Round about here I should say that I have never ever fished on such slippery rocks in my life, the bed was solid carved rock with a film of algae that made the Mohaka and Ruakituri ‘pink slime’ seem tame. (Brings back memories of walking the river bed in upper Ruakituri singing “I’m walking on pink slime, woah-oh, I’m walking on pink slime..” to the tune of “I’m walking on sunshine”). If I slipped once, I slipped a hundred times. We both had heavy falls. I wasn’t in my aquastealth studded boots and boy did I regret not packing them. The fishing in some stretches was nothing short of brilliant, above the falls only rainbows reside and in good numbers. Size wise a 3lb fish is a goodie up there, but having big numbers made up for it nicely. Highlights included a really good fish that gulped a Stimulator at the very end of a long drift just as the weight of current carrying the fly across and down a deep dark green pool started to sink the bug. A bulge in the current and a quick strip strike set the hook momentarily until the fish took air and threw the hook after several mighty leaps. We struggled upstream and in 4 hours covered maybe a km and a half but had a steady stream of fish banked and lost. In one pool I finally caved, tied on the Tongariro rig and bombed the bottom of the pool. Before we left that pool we had banked 9 fish and lost another couple, one which ran hard upstream and busted my 2.4 kg tippet like it wasn’t there. Stopping for lunch at a hunters biv we caught our breath, compared skating wounds and then carried on up. One of TT's fish fought amazingly, leaping 9 times before being banked. Finally at what we estimated to be 2pm we decided to turn and got back downstream in about 50 minutes. The crossing back was even dodgier, so it was a relief to finally get back in the yak. I rigged a sink tip and Woolly Bugger and we made our way slowly downstream looking for fish sheltering in the deeper corners. I caught a scraggy brown over a weedbed and then paddled down to where the drop off from river to lake was and caught a couple of small bows. We pulled the pin shortly after and I was surprised that it was 5pm already. We set off for home reflecting that our fishing spot is quite remote, access is hard, fotting was terrible and we hadn’t let anyone know where we were… in short it was dodgy and we are both getting far too shaky for dodgy stuff. Home to TT’s by 8 and then home to square everything away, I realised that I was really shagged. Lots of bruises, lots of trout. A day that will live with me a while I’m sure.