Monday, January 26, 2015

Wee westie visit

Long weekends call for fishing trips. I sent Andy a late happy birthday/Xmas/New Year text and he came right back with a weather outlook for Sunday. As long as his and Christa's second baby didn't arrive (already due) he had a leave pass. I'd make the 2 hour drive and be at his at 6am - we had to get to the ramp early as a fishing comp was being held and Manu Bay would be Disneyland popular.

I passed a number of cars towing boats on the way, and arrived nice and early, waking Andy up with a text. a quick coffee and we hitched the boat on and got going. Arriving at Manu at 5.50am we were about thirtieth boat lined up ready to launch. It was mind blowing, but I'd heard of over 300 boats being launched during the Xmas holidays. The Raglan Sports Fishing Club did really well, with volunteers helping to launch boats and park vehicles so the whole procession ran like clockwork. If only the local ramps were as well organised in busy periods - but they're not so I avoid popular ramps at busy times.

We set off with a slight breeze on the quarter, which combined with a crappy wavelength threw spray. I had my rain jacket on but water was soon leaking in the neck. But it would be a hot day so drying out wouldn't be an issue. It took longer than usual to get out to Gannet Rock, and we were about 10th boat to join the drifts over the reef. We were both jigging; priority 1 was to get fish for the table and smoker. It was harder than usual to find legal fish but I was fortunate enough to catch a couple of keepers which went into the bin. After that I grabbed the fly rod. With masses of rat kingfish chasing the jigs up in the clear water, it was just too good an opportunity to miss. As usual the fly rod got the attention of boats in close proximity, with other anglers giving me that "you're mad" look. On with a fly I'd tied up the other day and down it went.

One thing I've noticed is that flies will out fish jigs when the going gets tough [depending on circumstances], and the kingis were switching off the jigs. With a dozen boats flinging hardware around, perhaps that wasn't too surprising. I got hit after hit and for once didn't get reefed despite fish taking plenty of line.

I lost my fly when the leader knot gave when I'd cranked the drag right up, so on went a Flex Calamari. That got hit straight away and was the cause of demise of a number of kings.

After a few hours we called it and got set to troll back to base. With plenty of albies and skippies around we hoped to find work ups. I set the Tiagra with a large tuna lure and we got going.

Andy hit the first albie and we continued to work that patch, finding a huge bait ball just under the surface. This concentration of bait held our attention for quite a while as we regularly boated fish.

Albies really pull string, so every hit was the precursor to an enjoyable fight. By 3.30 we decided to head in. At the ramp we were met by a friendly volunteer who held the nose while I stepped ashore, really, I could get used to the royal treatment! Hats off to the club.

Back at Andy's we cleaned down the boat [blood everywhere] and fish and got them into fresh salt ice slurry. My evening was spent cutting the fish into chunks to cure overnight, ready for smoking after 18 hours in brown sugar and garlic.

The west coast has much to offer a fly angler, so every visit is treasured. Thanks Andy for hosting me. Ups.

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