Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Hand to hand combat

Possibly the best way to describe fly fishing for kingis against structure is hand to hand combat. There's no real secret that over the summer months, Auckland Harbour's channel markers are littered with yellowtail kingfish from tiny in size to very respectable. I've seen what (for the location) can be described as 'large' fish in the 12 - 15kg class out there.

What time and experience teaches is maximising your success rate. It can be a costly pastime - over a summer I'd expect to destroy (completely) at least one fly line and to make several repairs. Time had conspired against me getting out there, so much so that I'd had to plan this trip a week in advance, to fit in around other commitments. to begin the day I needed a WOF for the boat trailer. I wiggled the dodgy light until it worked, crossed my fingers and headed down to the station. No problems, it sailed through. Mid afternoon I had my stuff packed and set off for Torpedo Bay. Unfortunately the southerly which had been forecast to be waning wasn't anywhere near done, so she'd be a tad bumpy out there. Torpedo Bay in a sth wind isn't the greatest ramp, but I really enjoy launching there. A friendly neighbourhood, good (free!) parking and you can grab a coffee after retrieving :).

I trundled across the harbour and picked up TT at Okahu, then we tied off to a buoy while we prepared the fly gear. Having battened down the hatches, first stop was Rough Rock which was holding plenty of fish down on the reef but nothing showed to TT's fly so we set off up the channel. At the #1 marker we had immediate success. My first and second casts both were bitten - nice to start the 'season' with a bit of success.

TT got on the board soon after.

His first fish was pretty damn close to legal - and pretty damn close to finding its way into the smoker.

We hit fish after fish - and the kingis weren't all that fussy about what flies they ate. Gotta love un-hassled kingis, after they get to see flies a few times they tend to wise up. After perhaps a dozen fish, we moved on. Seemed we'd left the treasure trove, but in reality the tide was turning and the fish switch off on slack current.

Still, I was able to see the occasional sizable specimen - but I didn't see the one that smashed my piper fly as it sank down the face of a marker - what I do know is that it was a larger fish and it hit the marker chain in a second flat.... cutting the damn fly line. lucky it was cut in the head, so still serviceable. I tied a stopper knot in the line and barrel knotted on a new leader.

Fly carnage

By 7pm, with wind against tide it was getting damn unpleasant for any type of fishing let alone fly casting, so we cut a track back to Okahu. Then across to Torpedo where I was able to skim the boat in in only 60cm of water.

This morning I had a bit of a repair job to do.
Ugly but functional repair


I made record time putting on and testing the new loop. Everything just flowed.

New loop
Will have to tie up a few replacement flies at some stage.

Merry Xmas everyone.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Back at The Ridge

Saturday was the second real post season working bee at Tui Ridge. We'd be putting up a new release pen with the aim of holding some of the new arrivals.

We got a good turn out - the pen site had a couple of challenges - both slope and strata. But this year we had a secret weapon, a tractor with post hole rammer.

Even so, it took a few hours to get it all done, with net up.

We fenced the pen off from marauding cattle and hit the road about 4. Its going to be a very interesting shoot in 2014.

Friday, December 20, 2013


Matt gave us a bit of an update on the missing BOP geese last night; (subject to confirmation) the Regional Council poisoned off 2,000 geese 3 weeks ago. They were ravaging the local maize crops which were in their juicy seedling/shoot stage at that time. As I say above; "subject to confirmation" as I cannot reference it all on the 'net. Not that I'd expect the council to proclaim such an event publicly. Sad.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cool little video

Fish and Game's Mallard research programme gets a little promo clip.

There's always something to fix

And today it was time to work on the boat trailer. I needed to grease the main roller, get the wheels off and take some of the flaking rust off the hubs and generally get it ready for WOF... which is past due. Oops.

First, I downloaded The Booger onto my front lawn.

Then off with the wheels, one at a time naturally.

The hubs weren't too bad. Bearings fine, just a bit of surface rust to rub off with a wire brush on both the wheel and hub. Salt water just chews metal like breakfast so anything you can do to halt its progress is worth it in the long run.

I gave the hubs a spray with zinc coating as a sacrificial anode. Small hope really but it may help in the long run.

Checked over the springs, rollers, lights and after a couple hours of the boat sitting on the deck uploaded her back onto the trailer. Will go for a warrant next week at some stage.

Speaking of broken things, my trusty Canon G9 gas shat itself after 6 years of faultless service. These are the last images she captured, removed straight from the memory card onto the PC.  Unlike the title of this post, I wont be fixing the camera; last time I got a quote for something like that it was roughly 2/3 the camera price.

To the rescue! (2 weeks too late)

[Scene: Matt's World. Matt is being lazy. Or angry. Or both. Heh heh just kidden bro. He's probably actually being just being very busy running a couple of businesses at the moment]

Matt being calm and happy

Ring-ring (or bleep bleep, what ever his ph sounds like). Matt answers and its his farming buddy from Bay of Plenty - the geese are into his place. They need to be shifted.

Matt get's on the cell and collectively we all discover that we're in the same place - no way can we drop everything and get going. Tony's tied up on a house build. Chewie's got work commitments, I'm about to embark on a series of work related functions around the country, and Matt himself, well he's got his and another business to worry about.

We cross-check diaries and realise it will be 2 weeks before we can get there. So much for coming to the farmer's rescue. (which was a good part of the issue when F&G was managing geese - finding crews with the ability to drop everything, get going and do the dispersal). I booked in my leave. 2 weeks is a long, long time. By the time it had rolled around, we had a crew of 2. Matt travelled down to scout and reported in that the birds had moved on. Some goose kak was evident but the birds themselves were elsewhere.

I almost called it on the spot; work is pretty busy and I needed to catch-up on stuff that I'd let drop. But Matt reminded me that we're young and free, that anything can happen, and also that he's driven 3 and a bit hours so I should too. So out I went to cut grass and to dress the blind. Decoys and stuff into car. I found myself really enjoying the pre-hunt gathering of kit.

The alarm went at 3 and by 3.15 I was gone. Dawn had broken as I crossed the Kaimais and by the time I met up with Matt it was light. We drove down to our spot, arranged the dekes and blinds and began to hear honks as geese began to get a bit vocal.

Prime goose territory

A look around showed goose food for Africa. We wouldn't be dealing with starving birds, that's for sure. And they certainly weren't skinning the area we were hunting, the grass was thick.

Over the years we've spent plenty of time lying in paddocks looking at the sky - goose hunting successfully requires a set of circumstances that are pretty specific;

1. Scouting or being told that geese are there
2. Finding out where 'there' is, to the metre and setting up
3. Hoping that overnight, geese haven't changed their minds about where they want to feed
4. Shooting them

We had zero out of 4 covered.

But lying in a paddock in a beautiful and new part of the world certainly isn't bad - at all. We had cock pheasants calling around us, the weather was nice, the place certainly had potential and it was great to catch up with Matt. 

It beat being at work hands down. After a few hours we decided to walk the lower paddocks and scout for goose sign. We found that they'd been using some standing water at various stages.

Around which goose kak in various stages of desiccation were seen.

We wandered back to the spread and with it approaching 10.30 decided to call it. Matt and I looked at each other as we got to the cars and said to each other "you know what'll happen now.." - sure enough as we reached the paddock 8 or so geese were passing by looking at the dekes.

Back at the farmer's place for a coffee, he mentioned that his mate the maize contractor, was having all sorts of goose dramas as they honed in on his freshly sprouting maize. At least we knew where the birds were now going! And a new lead for next year....