Saturday, December 31, 2011

Louisiana Redfish

Check this out...


Just noticed how short their leaders are... probably to turn over those toads and poppers. Holy freakin awseome footage.

Desperate measures

The weather's been windy since Boxing Day - and the last couple have had the added bonus of consistent medium to heavy downpours. Still, you have to make do, don't you. Some would say that going out in a 40kt NE in a 4m open boat is madness, but I needed a fix. So I chucked the Booger in at Torpedo Bay which is totally sheltetred from the prevailing NE wind, and headed across the harbour to se if I coule get a decent drift - no dice, it was rolling out there. So upped sticks and watched the fishfinder carefully as I made my way up to the Naval Base.

Checked the sounder a few times to no avail, so headed to the Stanley Point Hole.

Beautifully sheltered under the cliffs there, so set up for a drift...

And (the ultra observant will notice its the same fish as above. True, but totally representative of what's out there).

And so on. Got half a dozen pannies which I released.

Bashed my way back to Torpedo Bay at about 6.30 and had to walk the boat in the last 50m, she's not exactly a low tide ramp. Was soaked through but felt great to have been able to get out and have a shot.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

EP Flex

Tied some embellished Enrico Puglisi "Flex" flies, the best squid imitation in the world. The embellishment is that I tied with 2 hooks, the original carries the tail hook only.

The wind has dropped to a mild 20 kts, and now the rain is beating down incessantly. Not a great time for an angler. This is duck weather.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Boxing day on Cossack

Xmas Eve 'Dre fired me a text. "Whatachadoin Boxing Day?" I replied "going fishing with you?" and it was sorted, just like that. We arranged to meet up with Al at Taka Ramp at midday, for a lure mission, softies & slow jigs. The boys had had a big afternoon the 2 days before Xmas, taking 18 big snaps and getting a feed of scollops. So 'Dre threw his dive gear aboard Cossack as well. The breeze was a fairly stiff 15 kts from, you guessed it, the NE - pretty much the shittiest wind for Hauraki Gulf on the Ak side.

Do you belive in Karma? Well I do. God or some other higher power struck me down for the relentless mocking of TT , or harbouring evil thoughts about the mental neighbours, or.... (yes Mr Deity, you have a long list so take your pick). We set for our first drift. Al caught a spiney dog ("hahaha" I thought", "he's carrying the curse today"). 'Dre caught a snapper. I caught a mackeral. Little did I know that that would be it for me for the next few hours. Al caught a snap. 'Dre caught a snap. Then they caught some more. I didn't. Between them they boated a dozen odd fish. The bite certainly wasn't hot, but I couldn't buy one. Poor TT, I know how he felt. The boys began to (rightfully) get lippy. I stammered weak rebuttles. I changed rigs. I copied their rigs. I tried slow jigs. 'Dre put on a slow jig and caught a snapper. Al caught a snapper.

We finished the drift and decided to go get some scallops. 'Dre was going to do the dog work while Al and I sat and acted like the boatman and jr boatman. 'Dre circled us for 25 minutes before approaching the boat...

Someone told me that Mr Snuffit caught a fish! Just kidding....

We dragged 'Dre's gear aboard and counted and measured out 60 fat scollies, throwing the undersized and over count fish back.

Then we moved out to drift the Haystack Reef. Predictably, Al caught a fish. So did 'Dre. Then, finally, I got a hit and struck at it. I proudly reeled in my snapper, foul hooked just by the eye. Of course. By now time was getting on so we headed to Rakino Channel for a drift. We (ok, all of "we" except for me) caught more snaps.

Then Al got a big hit. We called it for a kahawai by its runs, but as the minutes stretched out it stayed down deep rather than head up like a KY. Finally a good snap breached and I netted it.

Al with a good 4 kilo + fish

'Dre caught a small carrot. Then I got a thumping strike. It was all on for about 10 seconds before the hook pulled. Hilarious. Not for me.

Al got another good 3kg fish. I caught zilch. 'Dre caught - well I'm not going on any longer.

Jeff arrived soon after in his work's boat and we lifted our gear and headed home. We thumped into the swell to make the windward side of Motutap. then rounded and headed back with a following sea.

I took home 20 scollies and 3 snaps. Not bad for someone with the luck of Jonah...

Thanks lads, can't wait for the re-match. (Licks his wounds and retires stage left).

Monday, December 19, 2011

Baby Brownie

Another from Jason's vice. Primo.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Coch's ties

Called in on Jase to pick up some whitebait for dad, and hr flicked me a couple of his articulated flies.


Big, bold, full of movement and flash.

Nice work Coch.

Save the eels, build an eel pass

More like "save the dam from eels, build an eel pass". Part 2 of the swamp dam reconstruction involved building wings on the downstream side of the dam, again to stop both turbulence and eel actvity. The reason for the dam construction is to hold back water that feeds our ponds and floods the eastern side of the river when the autumn rains come. The water levels held are artificially high in terms of historical levels, probably up to 10cm's higher than 'normal'. Rick, Jason me and dad were the available crew. I met Rick at the landing at 7.30 and we took off  and met the others at the hut. A couple of coffees were needed, I was feeling knackered having woken for no reason at 4.15.

First order of business was to put in a coffer dam, to drain the working area. The lads set about clearing the working area and in the process we discovered yet another eel hole. This one leaked constantly as we worked so looked like a well formed eel pass.

Der ex-Schwampenfuhrer salutes his minions. Heil!

We drove in the iron and 12 x 1" for the rear wings.

Then we mixed and poured concrete to fill the wings.

By now we were were 6 hours in and all done... well maybe not. The number of eels we had bailed out of the working area was staggering. So rather than wait for another day, we got stuck into building an eel pass. The most practical solution was to build a sluice which we carpeted... and the cut a slot in the dam face board.

Then we capped the wing area so that DOC would be happy that they can't be sued if someone stubs their toe.

And finally, we were done.

Next jobs needing completion:

1. Spraying back the spring/summer weed growth
2. Building new mai mai at McLennan's
3. Extending Puru mai mai
4. Chop firewood

You could ask if all the work is justified? Well all I can say is that the coming season will be my 33rd and not an off-season has gone by where plenty of effort has been required. When you see ducklings in the ponds and can take a decent bag on a regular basis, then yeah its more than worth it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Techno Viking

Plastic fantastic - Smartwave centre console. Nik's new personal boat - looks sweet.

And now Hunts....

Swung by Hunts on Sunday to pick up some marabou..... the fly tying range was downsized and moved to a tiny wall space at the back of the shop, replaced in its original space by a bunch of landing nets. I sort of had a feeling that I was one of the main buyers of tying materials from Hunts, and one tier does not a market make....

Its a tough market out there, so stocking stuff that doesn't turn over - well there's not much sense in that is there? Looks like offshore websites are where I'm going to have to stock up from.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Steve Farrar Blend

Its nice. Rolled some baitfish flies up yesterday afternoon to see how they turned out and am quite pleased with the result.

Was going to go for a fish this morning, woke at 4.30am and wind was howling. Too much for me.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Still water flies

I honestly can say that I really enjoy stripping flies in still water. Like any tier I got my general ideas from others and then elaborated on them. I'm pretty convinced that flies incorporating UV materials don't scare trout away, so some of the ties incorporate a truck load of it. 3 days of fly stripping depleted my box a bit so last few nights I've been at the vice. Thought I'd post up some shots. These are mostly supposed to represent damsel and dragon fly nymphs. That's what I think, never really got around to asking a fish why it would eat something UV fire orange when it's been munching on green shit all day.....

Now to be fair I got a couple of fish on a plain brown bead head bugger the other day. So is UV the ultimate answer? Nah, I don't think so. I think movement, accuracy, understanding how to work the fly, giving fish time to eat it AND what's in the fly all play an equal role.

Still a few holes in the box but I want a night off tying so will go back to my Harry Hole book.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Rod & Reel Newmarket, support your local...

I know that you should support your local fly store to try and keep the ravages of internet super-stores at bay.... but man its not easy when you go out of your way to make an effort to shop at a place that has depleted stocks. Shortage of hooks. Shortage of thread. Limited range of marabou - marabou for gawd's sake, its a staple of fly tying!!! I especially wanted some more UV straggle .... only a spool left in the store and no more on order. I really really want these guys to succeed, but it will take some effort on their part to thrive and grow. Sure, its hard in a recession, but the current economic climate just isn't going to improve in any staggering way while kiwi's accept that buying on credit is a privilege and not a right; so if they want my money they will have to stock the things I want to buy.

Peter was chatty, he'd taken some newbies out on Otamangakau same day we were there and they'd lost a biggie at the boat. Asked him about the big square drogues and he mentioned that he thought they were from Aussie and the competition guys had got them in.

On the good side of the ledger they did have Steve Farrar blend and also some Enrico Puglisi fibre in stock; first time I've seen it in a store in NZ.

Monday, December 5, 2011

2 and a half days, 3 Lakes and a (the) big river

Last year me and TT missed our Pre Xmas trip due to one reason or another, so we were pretty determined to make up for it. At least he was, he’s pretty much the driving force behind the planning. The guy’s fished everywhere for a long time and has a good handle on where to be at what time of the year. When we spoke 2 weeks ago I was pretty much “ohhh hell, its only 2 weeks away…”. Anyway, we decided to drag The Booger down to Rotoaira, staying in Turangi with Otamangakau and the Tongariro River as options also. I wanted some fat lake fish for smoking so it was a pretty good sort of plan. Woke and packed the car and boat on Friday and arrived at TT’s before 9. We were on the road and made decent time to Taupo, stopping at hunting and Fishing to get some caddis dries and leader as halfway down I realised I’d not packed my vest which has all that stuff in it!!!

We duly arrived at Tongariro River Motel (TRM) and checked in, then headed down to Creel Tackle for a yak with Steve and to get our Rotoaira and Taupo permits. Spurred on by a picture of a 12lb brown that the man-fish Nik Hannam had caught at Rotorua minutes earlier, we set off for Lake Rotoaira under a sunny sky, but the wind was pumping from the north. We launched and set off across the lake for a pretty frustrating (for some) session. Even with the bigger drogue out we were skating across the lake.

Looks nice, but its blowing hard

The wind was just funnelling across over the saddle from Tokaanu, getting squeezed by Pihanga and we were in the eye of the storm. Not the gentle 10-15 kts the forecast promised! We stuck it out, hitting the depths with Di7 lines and fishing up over the drop offs. We were seriously travelling so it wasn’t too much of a surprise that the fishing was challenging. I hit 3 or 4 smallish fish and I think TT got a couple as well, before we decided to up sticks and head around into Pihanga’s lee. Man it was a different world around there, calmer and sunny. We got a few reasonable drifts in, in front of the Poutu Canal entrance and I got a decent fat fish which graced the chilly bin. Then it cut up so we ran back to the car for warmer gear. Then back across to the mouth for another round of drifting. We looked at our evening options which included drifting the canal casting to caddis munchers (which I’m sure we would have done if weather allowed) but decided to head back and hit the Tongariro…. By now it was about time to pull the pin and run, so run we did. During the drive I didn’t remind TT that I had caught way more fish than him. No sir, I did not. At least not constantly, just a few times. We got back to Turangi, grabbed waders and floating lines, ditched the boat and headed to the Hydro. No cars! We went straight in, TT heading up the pool while I went down. He had such a determined stride that I figured he must know where they were lying and yup he hooked up quite fast. After losing his fly I tied another on for him…. My eyesight is getting more and more shonky… then some other drama befell him so I took his place and caught a decent kilo and a half rainbow that fought well.

Looking up the Hydro Pool

That was it so we went off to the greasy spoon truck stop for a late ‘meal’. TT doesn’t believe in rising early so I was kinda surprised that he got out of bed at 7 or so. I’d had a couple of coffees by then. It was overcast and drizzly, but at least the wind wasn’t present… don’t speak too soon Mr Snuffit! We decided to go back to Rotoaira and fish the drifts that we’d attempted the day before, this time without the gale. We drifted… and drifted... and Mr TT caught the first fish. After that it just didn’t work for him. I can’t explain how or why when you get on a bad run it just goes south.. and heck that’s happened to me so many times. I wouldn’t say that I cleaned up, but I did catch 3 or 4 before we upped sticks and drove over to Poutu mouth for a look. (Side note, the waterfowl on the lake were amazing. Geese, swan, ducks and scaup in good numbers were present). We cruised up the canal to the hydro scheme gate then came back down casting here and there. Not much doing. It was really peaceful and warm up there out of the wind.

Back on the lake we stopped and spoke with one of TT’s acquaintances, a competition fisherman. His drogue was amazing, holding his boat at an almost standstill while we moved at quite a pace. He and his mate were fishing light lines with short casts and targeting small fish in the surface film. They’d caught a dozen or so fish. We were still stripping heavier lines. So under the circumstances they seemed to have a technique that worked well.

TT - catching nothing (HARRRRR hahahaa)

We moved off and decided to fish Otamangakau, the Big O, the legendary lake…. I had not fished the lake from a boat before, only from a kayak. Having a good big stable platform would be more comfortable. The car park was full when we arrived… and the weather was worsening. We ate our lunch against a back drop of dark clouds, rain and a cool breeze. As we ate Steve from Creel drove up and told us a tale of gang members fishing with roe … then a boat dropped off another guy who complained that the fishing was slow, “just a 4 fish between 6 and 7 lbs” … we launched and headed off to set up our first drift. Again we were cursed by wind. This session was to be the real towelling for TT, he caught nothing. Nil, nada, no actually he got a tiny wee little thing that doesn’t count. The good news is that his fish, all 12cms of it, was fat as Harry. Me on the other hand, well modesty forbids me from really rubbing it in. NOT!!! I got 5 or 6 takes, landed 3, killed a fat silver hen, lost a big awesomely shaped jack, even got 2 in 2 casts losing the second in the weed. I had a ball. My home ties were working even though I lost a bunch of flies through some spectacularly bad casting, in the weed, in fish… so when we left to give us enough time to get the evening rise in on the Tongariro, I kept my mouth shut again about how the reputation of being the hardest lake out there fishing wise was tamed by the master… NOT!!! I rubbed it in. Really rubbed it in. TT took it like a man. Even though very slightly downcast, he manned up to the abuse. And promised revenge on the evening rise. We stopped at Burger King for some horrible ‘food’ then headed home, dropped off the boat and prepared for the evening rise. A bit of jungle bashing ensued.

Middle Bain Pool

TT catching a fish. You saw it here first!

Upper Bain Pool

When the fish started we scoped out a number that were hard to reach. I lost my fly early so was reduced to tying on a major mother of an Elk Hair Caddis, far too big to match the hatch… TT caught a fish, I didn’t, maybe the balance was restored? NOT!!!! On the way home we played around trying to catch a nice brownie but he eluded us also.

Our time in the Taupo district was done, but we weren’t finished yet. On the way back north we stopped at a hydro lake, launched the boat and set about catching a bunch of fish. And catch a bunch we did, maybe 20 or more smallish rainbows and good sized browns from shallows and deep drop offs alike.

A common sight. Snuffit with a fish.

The droplet barely disguises TT's rapture at finally catching a fish. A rare sight.

Fat brownie. Angler is carrying condition too. Pies, yummmm

Lovely fish TT!

The fishing was hot, under a warm cloudy sky. If only the other venues had been this good, and of course we had a time restriction so had to pull the pin on a hot session in order to get home at a reasonable hour.

Another great pre Xmas trip. Next year = Waikaremoana.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Oh my God! Eating fish is dangerous!

This from the nutters at PETA.

Probably 6.8% of the population will believe this. Another 11% will promote a policy so stop us eating fish!

I know, because they voted for NZ First and The Greens respectively. MUUUUwaahahhahaa.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

6 weeks, 10 dabbling ducks

.. and 1 shoveler for the length of next year's gamebird season. Yesterday was AWF&G's November meeting followed by the AGM. Councilors Reardon and Carey who represent the remotest northern and southern ward of the region pushed for regionalised limits on game birds. Yet again the "too hard" agument came back, but honestly, its not, just requires some database changes and more volunteers. Funnily enough I work with databases. Yup they can be expensive to change and maintain, but not that expensive... so we can do that. The gamebird management group is gathering pace but funding will no doubt slow progress there. But overall it was a reasonably progressive meeting.

For those with short memories and who are prone to yelling about the game birds regs - last year we had a 6 dabbling duck per day 7 week season.

Things are moving slowly, but they are moving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Replacing the dam & hut chimney - Swamp Working Bee

The old pond dam was put in 13 years ago, with a solid concrete foundation around a 12” pipe with a cut-off valve. So far it’s been the longest lasting dam, taking into consideration the constant threat of willow tree roots and eel digging action. This season the dam finally blew in a reasonably big way, so we knew we had a big job on our hands. Dad rounded up the materials needed to effect repairs, 1.5 tons of builders mix, cement, tongue and groove treated timber. Paul and dad moved the materials down to the hut which in itself was a horse sized job.

Concrete precursors

I arrived at the hut on Saturday morning – dad, Rick, Jason, Tom and Andrew were in residence and we got started. Dad put in a coffer dam to hold back the flow, and then we dropped in another just upstream of the dam. The tide was way out, which helped us immensely with draining the working area.

The old dam
After a quick meeting to work out the scope of work, Tom got started on the chimney. He toiled all day on the roof cutting away the burned out old chimney, seating the new chimney and capping it off.

Andrew planning
Then, we started digging. Digging was the recurring theme of the day.... we had to remove the clay filling to find the cavity causing all our problems. We removed the fill to below the level of the pipe, drove in new boards on the front facing of the dam and removed the short boards at the rear which appeared to be the root cause of the issue.
Jason Excavating

Removing & replacing facings

We removed the spillway and then under Andrew's professional geotech engineering guidance we cut a channel in which to pour concrete. The trenched concrete was to cover both sides of the pipe down to below stream bottom level and for extra strenth we drove boards down into the base of the trench. Rather than boxing the concrete, we elcted to fill the dam completely with concrete so the big mix was on. Concreting took several hours of grunt in itself, joy, joy joy.

Then we set about building "wings" from the dam facing, to reduce water turbulence and cavitation associated. This in itself required another cubic metre of clay for the filling... by now we were pretty stuffed. The boys were pretty much walking wounded. Tom was dehydrated. But the end was in sight.

We finished after 6, the job having taken 10 hours of grunt. The coffer was released and we packed up and headed back to the hut. I dropped Andrew, Jason and Rick at the ramp and headed back for dinner and a sleeeeep.

Man the mosquitos were thick as pig poo that night!

Sunday it was 3 tired blokes who finally hit the floor. To be honest I awoke at 5 am and went upriver at about 6.15 to get the plants that we had to plant out. There were about 20 cabbage trees and 40 or so flaxes. We had breakfast and then planted the new plants around the ponds. Then we pulled the pin and went home.... a big weekend indeed.