Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Fishing the local in prep for the not so local

Our Aitutaki trip is almost on us. It was close to a year ago when our mate Tim mentioned that he and Karl were heading up to the island ('almost atoll') to chase GT and bonefish. The trip was planned to coincide with a bait fish spawn that attracts the GTs -"were we interested?" Hell yeah and with that the trip planning began. To be ultra fair, Tim did the trip planning, Jase's travel agent did the tickets etc and we all began marathon fly tying missions. I tried to get mine done early by using my Xmas holiday time. The bonefish we'd need to use had to be bigger and weightier than the stuff I already had from the 2 previous CXI campaigns as we'd be fishing deeper water so needed faster sinking flies and with a much larger average size it was recommended that we tie on the ever faithful Gamakatsu Sl12.

I'm a serial offender when it comes to taking too many flies away on trips and I don't think this one will be any exception.

The holidays also blessed me with enough time to begin to work on some more local flats, figuring out the comings and goings of fish and putting together the puzzle that are flats fisheries. A long way to go on that journey yet. Of the time spent on a new flat we've twice seen the fish and twice presented flies for no eats. It will happen but first, the time needs to be spent on figuring.

Acting on a rumour (where there's smoke oftentimes there's fire) I'd made up my mind to visit a small flat that's open to deep water and ticked a couple of boxes. Jase was looking for a mission too, and with it being a national holiday we'd need to be out early to assure a car park at the ramp. I like using Castor Bay to launch but its a busy wee beach in the summer so getting in early is mandatory.  I had the boat in by 6 am when Jase came wandering down the beach and we cruised in the darkness to our kick off point. I tied a crab imitation on, I'd be using the #8 with the new Rio Flats Pro intermediate tip. I picked it up for the Aitutaki trip and last time out it seemed pretty good when we busted some kahawai feasting on anchovies and needed fast shots in front of the rapidly moving predators. We set the Minn Kota and began to explore the outcrops. The terrain was ideal, rough and rocky with a good current flow. I missed my first fish of the day as it chomped the crab but hooked up soon after and Jase was soon into fish as well. He'd tied on a chartreuse half n half clouser but the orange/red in my crab seemed to be attracting more bites so he swapped out to a new unnamed fly he'd whipped up.



As the incoming tide began to flood, we moved from outcrop to outcrop and the session really heated up. Jase was knocking fish over casting into the heavy flow in the channel. I'd slowed down so raided his fly box for another of his red unmentionables and literally first cast up into a gut behind an outcrop the line came up tight. The rod bowed over and whatever I was hooked sounded and then moved rapidly towards the rocks. I tightened up (when perhaps I should have backed off) but could make no impression at all on the beast which at least stopped running. If I'd planned it right we should have driven straight over to the reef and got on top of him, but that possibility was gone when the leader broke on the rocks. The pressure through the rod had been immense and I called it for a foul hooked ray. It could have been a large snapper or even a kingi but if I had to lay a bet I'd say ray.

Another swoffer appeared in an inflatable and anchored up - this is where the joy of the Minn Kota plays out, moving silently between outcrops and GPS anchoring - it gave us a huge advantage.

On top of one rock I had a big hit and as I pulled the fish out of the reef I realised that I'd foul hooked a parore (luderick/blackfish) who was not keen to be pulled out of the kelp. After a torrid battle Jase got the net under him and he went back with a scar to show for his troubles.

We fished on and soon Jase had a big hit in the channel and had his own big battle before landing a really nice specimen snapper.

as the water increased in depth we began to lose touch with the fish, so set off to see if we could find a flats kingfish. The wind had begun to increase and now we had a breeze to contend with. The water we found was beautifully stunning and of uniform depth. Rays moved around but of Mr Kingi there was no sign as we traversed the flat. With the wind directly on the bow the waves on the way home were less of an issue than I'd thought they may be.

Home by lunch after a fine morning of local fishing. God we're lucky to have this on our doorstep.

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