Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sharking Hell!

Got an email on Saturday night from Nik. One of his regular clients, Bob Seddon from Idaho is across. Bob has a penchant for big fish on the fly rod, and last year had an epic day on the kings at East Cape.

This year Nik had a wee accident with his boat trailer and some roadworks. The springs popped on an unsealed ridge in the road. Reminiscent of our Parengarenga trip 3 years ago, except we walked away pretty much unscathed. he wasn't so lucky this time.

So he took Bob on a mission in Tauranga Harbour to look for ooglies. And boy did they score!

Burleying no less than 3 bronzies up, Bob flicked out a fly, got a hook up and an hour later was posing with his prize. Not bad I reckon!!! There is definitely room for the 15 weight in one's arsenal!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Forum bowhunt

It has been many years since I pronged anything of significance with the bow. Over the years I've killed a number of goats including a really big fecker in the Awakino, so once the forum bowhunt was in planning I just had to jump aboard. I'll say upfront that Shanks did a marvellous job of managing quite a reasonable crowd of hunters - not an easy task by any means. Got to meet a bunch of new people and enjoy hearing their stories. Plenty of high jinks and high drama, all in good fun. Rather than a blow by blow I'll just say that my interest in shooting a pig with the bow has increased significantly.... I did get some chances but my shots went high, even though I held low on the 20m pin. Practice makes perfect and not practicing is a poor excuse, but missing at 10m is ridiculous - especially 4 times in a row. Overall a marvellous day's hunting. Good people, good times...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Day II

Imagine this - waking up in paradise next to a pristine stream, under a fly camp and right by your parked chopper. Very surrealistic. A quick breakfast of porridge and stuff and Pete warms up the taxi, then takes off with TT to find our fishing water for the day. As it happens we're pretty much gorged in at camp, with a canyon upstream and deep water and cliffs downstream. Mark and I wait until Pete reappears and then we're off, flying upstream to wide spot in the riverbed. We land and set up, this time taking the rifle.
The fish are sharper here, less apologetic or forgiving, almost as if they have received pressure - and who knows? They may have. TT gets on the board but I muff my only decent shot by hooking the bottom right in his face...

Mark gets a nice piece of water to prospect, so I grab the rifle and move up to inspect a small gulley. Poking my head around the corner and holy hell there's a deer looking at me. I freeze and tell TT to keep still, throw up the rifle, centre the cross hairs on her neck - CLICK! Empty chamber! Cranking a round in I marvel that she hasn't moved and again take aim and drop her cleanly with a neck shot that takes out her spine. And that's my first 'do it yourself' bush deer in the bag. Mark's got some kevlar twine so we hang her and I take out her guts, remove her head and prop her open with a stick to cool off. We fish on upriver but after an hour have reached the next impassable gorge so we turn and head back down. At the deer spot, I decide that a carry would be unecessary and biff her in the creek on a string - and walk her down! The lazy man's carry!
Soon we're back at the chopper and we discuss fishing options. I'm conscious that the carcass is heavy so tell the lads that I'll butcher her while they head out to the next spot in the chopper. Pete tells me he'll be an hour tops, so I get to work skinning her and have the deer processed in roughly 45 minutes. Back steaks, eye fillets, legs and rump. All bagged. Now's where it went a bit scary... after 2.5 hours there's no sign of the chopper. Away to the south its getting a bit darker. I have my day bag, fire lighting stuff, knife, light, a deer of course - but my jacket's in the chopper and if they've gone down and hit the EPIRB its still an overnighter by the time we're found. So I set to work building a biv. I need wind and waterproofness more than anything so build sturdy walls with logs, lay over a roof of ponga fronds and the deer skin, put down a comfy bed of dry grass, make a fireplace, gather wood and generally make the shelter as comfy as I can. I have on my merino mid weight top and longjohns and a pair of shorts... but christ it's gonna be a chilly and wet night if I spend it out here.

Deciding to try and get everything dry before a night out, I prepared my fire and took off my boots and socks. Just as I was striking the first light, the chopper came over the ridge and Pete brought her in. We had a quick chat and Pete explained that his fuel load was lower than he liked so he's not come back until now, and that with weather approaching we were pulling out. All good as our plan b flight path was dodgy to say the least. Packing the meat into the chopper we took off and met the lads on the Motu. A quick hop back to Opotiki and I put the call through to the olds to meet me at Thames in an hour. A terrific flight back and I was on the road, reflecting that just over an hour ago I was preparing for a night out - and now here I was in my car.

All in all a great trip, thanks to generosity of others.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The time between blogs

.. has been spent being 'busy'. Just had 2 full days training on effective leadership, which was to incorporate ways of finding an extra hour per day by changing work habits. Stuff like planning your day in advance, not letting email interrupt you... in theory that stuff is fine, but its not really my style. I already prioritise, I mean everyone does, right?


The pre Xmas bash was a beaut. I must confess though, that it didn't 'feel' like the normal pre-Xmas bash and I can't quite put my finger on why. Not to detract from the whole thing though, I mean it was really great but the inclusion of the 'third person' in the trip sounds like it might be sort of permanent, which is ok, but not really what the pre-Xmas bash has been about so far. Ok, must acknowledge the effort that TT put into making this trip happen. Landing permits, organising the absent minded (pre-occupied) surgeon, leaving me alone to sort my work crap out, he really did a sterling job. Thursday before the trip, well I took it off to spend with family - until 1.30 that was, when I got the call from TT to get over to his place so we could go to Mechanics Bay, meet the pilot, weigh in etc. Pilot was late, and DOC still had not given the permit to land, which itself required much toing and froing and frantic calls, most of all it needed the surgeon's signature as it was his chopper we were going in. So a bit of frantic driving around town and we ended up with our crap together - and I also ended up with a stinking pounding headache, like I haven't had in years. Not having kids means that TT doesn't understand time pressures, so I was late home to get Rilee's stuff together. That taken care of, finished packing. The key things was that in a Robbie R-44 Raven II, there really isn't too much space available. Literally, the seat you are sitting on has a cavity under it, and that's your storage. Up early Friday, check forecast and she's good until Saturday night. Into car, rod (check!), rifle (check!), fishing gear (check!), sleeping gear (check!), day bag with ammo, survival stuff (check!), food (check!).. and already its looking like too much to pack in the chopper. I have to drive to Thames aerodrome, as taking off from Mechanics Bay under full load with tail wind is dicey. So the plan is to meet at Thames at 7.30, load me in, refuel and then get on our way.

So we meet up and our crew is:

Mark Gray (plastic surgeon to the stars)
Pete Matheson (pilot)

Amazingly, everything fits in the chopper. Pete gives us safety drill and we're off over the Kaimais. Our beeline takes us from Thames out to the coast at Whangamata, then we turn south along the coast and 'track' (chopper term) towards Tauranga. Air Traffic Control clears us and we're on our way down the coast, Whakatane, Ohope, Ohiwa and then presto we're in Opotiki.
We land and refuel, check GPS, discuss emergency escape options for inclement weather and then we're up and into the Raukumaras, and down into the Motu bed. Our target is a Motu trib, a beautiful stream that I've fished upstream, that holds a good head of nice brownies, including some beasts. The first thing I notice is that there are tracks everyhwere - deer, pigs and goats. The second thing I notice is the fish on the feed at the head of the pool we've landed near. Its all over the place in typical brownie feeding mode, holding in the slacker water and covering metres scooping up food. A couple of promising casts but then as the nymph is entering the zone the current picks up the line, induces drag and I can imagine the fly zooming up in the water column past the trouts nose. He doesn't appreciate it at all and melts away under the fast water across the pool. Damn, rusty, not good.

We leve Pete with the chopper to meditate and read his book. He's quite observant, pointing out the hoof marks of a decent sized deer and where it entered the bush quite recently. I imagine someone with a strong hunting nose would have been salivating! Never the less, the rifle stayed with Pete along with instructions to shoot any deer or pigs he saw. Away up the trib we went. Beautiful crystal clear water, gravel runs and deep pools. I rigged for the deep stuff and TT went light with a bead strung under a dry. Mark went for the Tongariro rig. I struck first, taking a brownie deep in the eye of a blue green pool. It gave an ok account of itself before it came ashore for a photo. Mark got one ashore after multiple chances, and we moved up the stream fishing the likely spots. Fishing with a newbie can be stressful, especially after mutiple duffed attempts, and Mark gave us a few of those. Bombing sitters... anyway that's the name of the game. Then we really started finding fish, out and about and on the feed. I picked my way up one side of some real holding water, while TT and Mark played with fish on the other. At the head of the run on my side was a shed sized boulder, pinning another smaller boulder and a series of smaller and larger boulders downstream. Overall it created a 5m square patch of deep holding water with conflicting currents, and in that conlict lived the biggest fish I've seen for a while. Took a few 'subtle' casts with the biggest tungsten bomb I could muster, to get it on his nose. He took, I hit and he went for it, boring downstream under the boulder at the tail of the pool. Fought him hard for a minute but nah, he got me. Sob. Looked up to see TT into a good fish which he landed and killed for dinner.

We fished up to 3pm then turned and headed down to meet up with Pete and fly upstream to find a camping spot. A bit of circling and we came down on a likley spot and set up camp. A fire, some pasta and smoked chicken, and then a bit of sniper time at goats on a face opposite the stream. The goats were about 200m away and steeply elevated so shooting was a challenge - and I ended up with an 'eyebrow'. Day 1 done.