Sunday, November 23, 2014

Forum fishing comp

FishnHunt is a local site that has a pretty active forum for hunters & fishers. I've met heaps of good barstools through activities organised by this and other sites. For the past couple of years a group has gathered at Gulf Harbour for the annual FYM! snapper fishing competition, where FYM! stands for doing something unmentionable to your mum. Ehem.

I'd fished the past couple of comps with Tim who has now moved south, so when the guys announced that the comp would be in November rather than Feb this year, Tony and I talked about entering. A couple of weeks back it looked like I'd have a clash but that got cleared so we got down to planning. This time of year is much better in the Hauraki Gulf to snare a decent snapper than the February date where heaps of small snaps abound. We decided to tip berley in the water first thing and see what we could bring in on bait, and then afterwards go and look for work ups in the afternoon. Weather allowing.

We launched at 6am to avoid the ramp chaos that is just going to get worse as Xmas looms and headed off on flat seas. Our first spot had good structure and decent sign and we fished to the top of the incoming tide without much to show. After we lost the current we moved a couple of kms across to Tiritiri Matangi Island and immediately found great looking water, an ugly reef and masses of current. Perfect. We nosed in on a rock that we sounded and got set up, straight away we started getting hits. Over the next couple of hours we put some pretty decent fish in the bin, although I had trouble getting good hook-sets for a while and dropped a nice fish that felt pretty decent.

At 12.30 I got a strong hit and played a fish that felt solid enough, and landed the largest for the day.


All the while the wind rose so our visions of searching wide for work-ups evaporated; we were sitting exposed to the wind and were comfortable enough but across the channel back to mainland behind us white caps were rolling. By mid afternoon having been torn a new one by an eagle ray, it was time to up and seek shelter or action so we moved behind Tiri for a rest from the wind, but even that was a tad fruitless. We spent some time exploring around Shag Rock with soft baits and jigs before deciding to bite the bullet and head back into the teeth of what felt like 30kts on the nose. The 3.5km trip across Whangaparaoa Passage [Tiri Channel as its more commonly known] doing sub 5 kts to stop waves spilling over us will not be forgotten in a hurry. Tony may have immortalised it with this little clip.

We arrived back soaked, to find the majority of the guys in. A bit of a clean up of gear and getting the boat ready for the road and then it was time to catch up with the crew.

At the weigh-in I was pretty stoked to take out the competition with my 9lb'er.

Great comp, good guys and thanks to Tony for crewing on the wettest boat in the comp!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Spring time

I haven't really blogged much of late; mainly because at this time off year my activities are an ingrained routine of working bees and maintenance.

Same as last year, the year before etc - the price of great hunting includes the groundwork that is put in the previous year. My involvement with the Tui Ridge syndicate will wind down now that I've found myself to not be a financial member; even so I'm happy to continue to assist the team when heavy lifting is required.

So on a beautiful sunny spring day [unlike the current atrocious crap we currently are suffering - snow for gawd's sake!] we set out to build 2 new holding pens. "Many hands make light work" - so goes the old saying and the crew ripped into it, so by day's end we had 2 quickly built pens established.

The past weekend saw the annual November working bee; the first of the 3 big swamp working days between seasons. It's an ok time to spray down noxious crap like Poa aquatica as about now it begins to grow like a frenzied mutant. I truly hate that stuff as it grows tubers so you can never truly eradicate it; although it responds well to spray it'll come back if you let it. While we worked a pair of geese honked noisily overhead in the breeze, probably a nesting pair disturbed from their daily routine. as much as I love hunting geese, i really don't want them in our swamp for a number of reasons. The guys got a heap of work done, including repairing a wash out in the dam and the first stage of rebuilding the last of our blinds that needed an overhaul.

Today Craig and Mick travelled to our game bird breader, to collect our birds for rearing. Day old birds look like cuddly balls of innocence - but as mentioned elsewhere and often they are completely brainless and suicidal and require a level of care befitting a human baby. We got some pretty cool birds in the mix - whites and a few melanistics. The spring time cycle repeats.

Photos courtesy Mick Hutchinson
Day olds
White, mellie & 'normal' colouration

Craig preparing transport cartons


New home

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

45 rivers in a season

I went to school with Nigel Juby, not that he'd remember me [it was primary school after all, some 40-ish years ago]. He's president of HAC - Hamilton Anglers Club, and in a frenzy of angling has managed to fish all 45 rivers featured in Auckland Waikato Fish & Games leaflets.

That, is some effort, particularly with kids often in tow. Respect. :)

I might've fished only half of the rivers featured. There's a challenge - to fish the rest..... in a season? We'll see.....

Monday, November 3, 2014

A moment of helplessness

Yesterday’s weather was too good to miss for a small craft owner. 0 – 4 kts for the whole morning, well I knew where I’d be. We slept badly on Saturday night; my cell phone which would serve as an alarm clock wanted to interact with our normal alarm/radio which burst out with some whacky interference at midnight.

Joy, I knew it had woken SWMBO up; so by 04:00 – the real wake up time – we’d not really got much more sleep. Heading out of the driveway a fuse blew in the car; taking out the interior and rear lamps. I decided to risk the 10 minute trip down to the bay --- but I also know that I’ve got a wiring issue on the boat trailer… anyway the launch was uneventful and soon I was powering through the dark. We needed fish for dinner so I’d decided to berley the crap out of a reef that I’ve been spending time sounding lately. The outgoing tide made it a pretty good proposition.

I’d also thrown my live bait tank aboard; last week’s John Dory had tasted so damn good… Before 05:00 I had berley in the water and a cloud of piper and mackerel were darting into the berley; down with a sabiki and soon a dozen mackerel were swimming in the tank. I pinned one through the back and he went over – johnny trap set. The first snapper that came aboard had picked up the bait and swum up-current so was lightly hooked; back he went – even though legal there’s not much on a 32cm fish. The next fish was lightly hooked also – after the cast and drop the line went slack and I wound hard to hit a 40cm fish that went onto ice. Nice. The sun came up and things were looking good. I was busy checking the livie when I noticed that my 10kg rig had gone slack…. I reeled in and hit when the weight came on and the fish charged away with the nodding run of a good snap.

I fought him hard over the reef and knew it was a good fish as piper sprayed out of the water as he charged around the place and then finally I had him boat side – I’d need the gaff for this one… as I reached for it, the hook pulled … for a moment of helplessness the fish lay there as I tried to grab the gaff… but a thrash of the tail and he was gone. If only I’d been paying attention and had got a good hook-set… Another couple of pennies were put back after that and all too soon the tide had gone out. It was time to move, so I decided to go and scout for bait balls. Despite plenty of sign I only managed to jig a couple of goatfish.

Beautiful colours

That was my signal to pull the pin and go. Home and a quick fuse change-out… I’m sure that there’ll be more to that particular story yet [read; re-wiring].