Monday, January 8, 2018

Holiday survival

Xmas around here is neat. People abandon the city in hoards, and given that I'm not of a mind to join is such chaos I'm generally happy to hang around and carry out a few day trips. It was a brownie taken a year ago from the Tongariro that had my focus. Its twin would be welcomed for sure - if only fish were as nostalgic as anglers! I fished only 3 times over the break. To me it seems apt to write about the first and last fish taken - the book ends if you will, and let the holiday fishing pictures in between tell their own stories.

The first

Man and dog hit the road early on this morning. The drive was quiet and speedy. The Blue Pool access road has re-opened post logging operations and what was pine forest is now ugly barren and scarred landscape; ripe for rejuvenation. The cycle of life and death will continue and for sure the local quail will boom as they feast on the bugs in the cut over. Its lovely seeing those little bundles of buzz take to the air, and Layla has a penchant for them. Given that I've not hunted Cali's over the dog, she may just see them as a tasty airborne snack...

The little trout Spey rod sent out the payload again and again and I began to anticipate the thump of a fish hitting the fly as it swung down into the seam - in reality the hit came well above the slot I was aiming for. The line tightened and the fish swam with determination downstream. With no rapid charges or leaps I was pretty certain I'd snagged a brown and after a decent battle I drew the fish ashore - a beautifully spotted and highly polished bronzed brownie. The satisfaction of a job done well left me feeling on top of the world!

Trip 2...

The last

The story of the last holiday fish was different. Mentally I wasn't prepared. Physically I had in that I'd set up the boat's electrics and got it ready for a pre-dawn departure, but I was in 2 minds about whether to go or not. Somehow I was mentally arguing about going fishing or not! The time of departure (to avoid crowded launching spots) meant I'd be launching on the lowest ebb of the king tide,  ruling out my preferred launching spot at Torpedo Bay. When the alarm blared I almost rolled over and considered trying to go back to sleep, but when I'm awake I'm awake, simple as that. I had nowhere else to be, and besides it was the last day of the holidays. The launch at Castor Bay was easy despite the lowest of low tides. I traveled smooth seas in the darkness with nav lights and the glow of the fish finder telling the world that I was out there. Boat traffic was light and soon I was approaching my destination reef. With Minn Kota deployed I spent the next couple of hours mooching around the reef, casting and catching a variety of fish.

As the sun got higher in the sky and the king tide flooded in, I moved up onto the flats. I moved with the tide but it was apparent I'd got my approach wrong - The sun was ahead of me and with overcast conditions and some ripples on the water I was going about it all wrong. At the end of my traverse of the flats I turned the boat and came back, this time with an additional foot of water under the keel. The first kingi foreshadowed the sizable wake that followed. He was large... very large. The fly, a large crease fly, was engulfed on the first bloop and 200m of line was gone on the first run. I turned the boat and with the electric motor on full noise simple was unable to get close. The fish charged over a shell bank and rubbed out the fly, leaving me winding in metres of backing and then the fly line... the fly was still there on a very rubbed leader. Really I don't think I could've done anything differently. Inside I knew that my chance had come and gone. So I let my guard down a bit - so much so that the next wake was abreast of me before I noticed that, and the yellow tail-fluke creating the wake. The fish meandered to and fro as I plotted a collision course and it was a good few minutes before I was in a position to get a cast away. The fly landed in front of the fish and I blooped it. The water exploded and I hit as hard as I dared. This time I let the fish run while I sorted out my loose loops, got the fish on the reel and got after him. In 3-4 feet of water the fish ran again and again. I drove the boat ashore and played him out. A friendly passer by helped with photos.

The fish swam away strongly.

Holiday survived. And there's a moral here - its always best to get out of bed. "You snooze, you lose" is quite an apt phrase.

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