Monday, February 27, 2012

I have no marlin mojo

My brilliant run at losing marlin continued on Saturday. I met Brian and  Mark at Paihia on Friday evening and we checked in to our motor lodge then headed down to the Bay Of Islands Swordfish Club (BOISC) to enter the small boats competition. We were team #24 ... this wasn't going to be the biggest competition in the world by any stretch. The forecast was great when I checked from Sydney on Wednesday... by the time Thursday afternoon had come around it was revised to SW 15kts rising to 35... by Friday afternoon it was about the same. We had a few beers at the club and a meal (support your local) and then hit the hay with visions of large striped bill fish tearing up our lure set. I woke with a bit of a sore head but munched through a big plate of bacon and eggs, toast, hash browns and other assorted greasy sh*t that doesn't bother me in the least on the briny. Mark, who suffers the dreaded mal de mer had dry toast and tea. Brian didn't eat. He's a freak. We set off in a mild SW snotty little wind that set up a decent swell. We headed out past Nine Pin, turned left and then trolled along the swell (SW) to give the lures a decent run. The 15 turning 35kt forecast wasn't that pleasant a thought. After a couple of hours we were abreast of the Cavalli Islands and the water improved in temp and colour.

Skippies were hitting the swivels on the game lures so it all felt quite fishy when CRACK the overhead rigger went off and the 50W (we were fishing 4 80W's and a Penn 70SW with 24kg) screamed. I was on the rod and grabbed it, cranking the drag up to the strike position to set the hook. Brian drove away from the fish to keep the line tight and hold the hook in place, while I cranked line in at every opportunity... then it all went slack. I cranked like a mad man in case the fish was swimming towards us but nope, nothing there. Damn. I went to reset the overhead rigger, so having gathered the 24kg line I was reaching up to snap it into the release clip when - swoooooosh - owwww - the line was ripped out of my fingers as the marlin - or another one - grabbed the lure. Again I grabbed the rod as the reel shrieked and spewed line. This time I was able to really set the hook, and the marlin responded by leaping straight up, what a grand sight. This time all went to plan as the boys cleared gear I got to work on the fish, then all went slack..... this time I wound the lure right in to check the hooks, but the lure was gone. The fish had rubbed through the leader - and When I asked Brian if what looked like 100lb mono actually was 100lb mono (say it ain't so...) he confirmed that the tuna bullet we were running out back was rigged on light leader. Funnily enough I didn't feel like crying and still don't. All this was, was a continuation of my less than stellar marlin fishing career. It's running something like 10:1 in favour of the marlin. I'm sooooo over it. Thus far I've had fish spit lures, spit livies, spit hooks and now a bust off. Great. But hey, having a marlin rip line out of your hand is pretty special and that's going to stay with me for a loooong time.

We got off the water early as the weather cut up rough. A bit of a swim in the hotel pool and then off for a dinner at the game club.... there was a fair crowd in.

Sunday was most notable for the nicer weather and the fact that 3 more marlin were hooked. Not by us. It was a more or less perfect day on the water, just enough swell to not have totally oily conditions, and the lures ran well. We were off the water by 4 and having driven Mark home i arrived at home at about 8.

Sweet weekend, thanks Brian & Mark.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Plans & stuff

"Head out to the 45M mark, and you can't miss!" It's always difficult to leave a reasonable bite to chase down the dream of an even better one. This time it didn't quite work.... anyhow, setting the scene, Tim and i were entered in the fish'nhunt inaugural fishing competition. I don't really like the aspects of competition fishing, but this was with a bunch of guys with common interests, the rules were quite relaxed and the whole thing was done in the spirit of mates fishing with mates.

I rolled in from Wellington late on Friday night feeling like something the cat dragged in, unseasonal thunderstorms over Auckland had delayed flights and while I recognise that bitching about the Koru lounge being overfull is just plain downright whingeing, I was full of man flu, so there! Actually it was overflowing, and as a consequence there were very few pickings worth eating and I just don't drink booze on weekdays/near family/if there's even a hint I have to drive/on Sundays.... so by the time I got showered and into bed it was near 11.30. Alarm went at 5. Up and started packing. Was ready so that when Tim & Stephen arrived at 6am all we had to do was chuck my stuff aboard and go.

We made good time to Gulf Harbour, met up with Chris & Aunty, said hello to Luke and some other blokes and then we we launched and got underway. The day was perfect, calm, the sea oily. We drove around Tiri, noticing 2 distinct concentrations of boats. However we were more drawn to the terns that were wheeling around and popped out jigs straight under them. In no time flat we were into fish, nothing huge but still keepers. We did 3 or 4 long drifts with no need for drogue given the perfect conditions. Tim snagged a goodie in the 2kg range (oh ok, 1.7ish) which was our biggest for the day. Then we set off for the fabled 45m mark. No dramas on such a day. The next session was all about chasing work ups, but they were rapid moving, typical kahawai bust ups with no structure that appeared, got the gannets excited and terns, and by the time we arrived had moved on. We got a few big kahawai and small snaps but not worth the gas or effort expended. So we set up a drift, put on baits and sat back. The first 45 minutes were bereft of any action while the tide turned but then the bite started in earnest. Squid bait was the order of the day, the pillies going un munched. I lost an inkichu to something large (KY probably) ow ow ow. We released most fish and a few made the grade to go home in the chilly bin. For lunch we decided to catch up with Blair (Savage) and Blair (Greendog) who were fishing on Shearer's Rock along with half of Auckland. We dropped anchor nearby, set up the berley and had a good session catching a bunch of snaps and some more large kahawai. At about 3 we took off to look at Tiri Channel. Not much there so we got in early for the 4pm weigh in.

Man alive, some boat ramp muppetry unfolded then.... one big flash boat launched with prop flag still attached which we kindly pointed out, another went to retrieve with stern leg still down.. which we kindly pointed out... by the time the majority of the comp guys arrived back it was getting farcical.

We then gathered for prize giving, (Aunty won with a mini fish) and the festivities began. it was a bluddy great day in the best of conditions... too good for fishing perhaps?

As for the 45m mark.... it was about 20m too deep!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I don't know if I've ever seen a more beautifully crafted piece of engineering anywhere. (My mind is drawn to the Beretta SO5, the E-Type Jag, the Spitfire, all peerless in their class at time of inception and release).

My Z-Reel arrived yesterday. I can't thank Carl McNeil and Jeanie Acklin of On The Fly who are the NZ agents, highly enough for helping me buy perhaps the first one in NZ. Like the other pinnacles of engineering, there is a strange little quirk.

The quirky thing is... the spool size. I checked it all out prior to purchase and figured that the 7 was actually more a 5 weight reel, pushing 6. I'm going to load 80-100m of 12kg spectra (if i can) but I fail to see how they came up with sizing because I seriously doubt it would then gobble a #7 full line.

I'm not certain how their engineers came up with the size spec, but I have a feeling that it has quite a bit to do with the size of fish available to most European anglers. Has to be. To only allow for 50m of backing is kind of unthinkable.

I'll spool her this evening, probably first run will be Whirinaki in early March.

Fishing, not catching

If this blog were Facebook, then there would be no images depicting abject failure, no stories of bad wind against tide, berley disappearing, bait being half heartedly chewed... Last night I picked up Cock from his place and we heded down to Torpedo Bay to launch. Really loving that ramp. I'd checked and rechecked the forecast, NW wind 10kts. The tide was half out by the time we anchored at the reef. Things were looking promising, until the berley started flowing the wrong way. The boat itself sat with tail into the tide as the wind held us. But that current in the reef system was weird. We moved several times until we felt happier. I think the sum total of action was a few peewhacker snapper. Even the livebait we deployed was left alone. By the time the sun departed we'd moved locations, tried jigs... just wrong place, wrong time.

But you have to go to know.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Big Muddy

Cock seems to be hooked on catching kingis with flies. Early in the week he suggested a trip to the Manukau to chase down a more sizable fish than the Waitemata rats. We decided to launch an hour after high tide and fish the outgoing. Having checked out a few places, Cornwallis seemed the ideal launch spot, especially as we could retrieve on the low tide. Well, we almost got derailed by a last minute goose hunt, but unfortunately the cockie couldn't be tracked down, added to which he had young stock in the paddock the birds were using. The wind got up and came in against the outgoing tide, leaving us with a horrible chop to deal with. For 6 hours we gave it everything we had. Fish were seen on the sounder but not on top. At one stage a good big fish nipped Cock's fly and gave him a view of a rather broad flank... his adrenaline levels jumped through the roof. I didn't see it.

We tried burley. Poppers. Skull head flies. Fast retrieves & slow. deep & shallow. By low tide we were just off Cornwallis and in the twilight it 'felt' fishy. But no, nothing to show.

I'm missing something here, more research needed....

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Client relations, fishing dirty

Went out with my boss and a client yesterday, bait & berley mission. We set off from Westhaven and headed out to Waiheke. Out there we caught maybe 20 fish over 2 hours, none making a size limit that I'd be happy with so back they went. We also picked up a couple of kingis that were swimming together; both rods went simultaneously. The westerly picked up so back we went and tucked into a reef system. We only had a dribble of burley left but it was enough. In an hour we had 6 fish up to 3kg aboard, and a legal kingi. A samller kingi went back - amazing fights in less than 3m of water. Although I did fish an inkichu at one stage, it was a dirty smelly bait session and one to remember.


Mike's Rangi kingi vids

Friday, February 10, 2012

Retraction & apology

In December I referred to a person named Justin who works for DOC in an uncomplimentary manner. I retract that statement, and apologise if my words around his career choice were uncomplimentary.

I have amended the original post accordingly.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Mike is another forumite with a hankering to throw flies around. We set out on a mission, to catch Mike a kingi on the fly rod. Conditions were ideal, even so i decided to launch at Torpedo, rather than a beach launch. A good decision. I picked Mike up just after 5 from Okahu and we set off to our first destination. The tide was pretty high bu the time we arrived, and alarmingly, there was scant sign on the sounder around the structure. We got Mike ready (line stripped and ready to cast, shoes off) and almost immediately he hooked up on the structure, pretty much standard fare as that's where the kingis are... Mike pulled his line to break off the fly.... unfortunately his T-11 head snapped off instead. Oww. So while Mike re-rigged I set up the #11, with one of the EP Flex calamari flies and a sinker on its nose. Theory, I wanted to get down deep to the big guys... we drifted and cast, drifted and cast, changed angles and finally I got a hit on the calamari, but it was a tail nip. First one, then another kingfish showed itself behind the fly, but no dice. Finally Mike got nailed. He hit the fish and held on...

Hold on Mike!

Mike held the fish nicely and we got him away from the structure, so he was able to gain line. Soon enough I got the net under a stroppy fish.

Mike with his first kingfish on fly

Mike got another soon after and we were both stoked. We cast around for a while longer, then I suggested a change of venue. We headed into Motuihe Channel and had a flick, nothing doing. So off into Rangi Channel. First marker and Mike hooked up and got a fish. Then the session all got a bit fuzzy as things heated up. Moon was full in the sky in the east, and the sun setting in the west set the sky ablaze. The fish just got more voracious.

I ended up getting busted by a fish on the 8 weight and it felt like a good way to finish the session. After dropping Mike back at Okahu, I zoomed across the harbour and retrieved the boat. I have to say I was feeling pretty relaxed. Thanks Mike, it was a pleasure.

Nice one Andy!

Andy nailed a big bad snapper on fly, off the rocks. As Nikolaj would say "that is the pinnacle of snapper fishing on a fly rod". I agree, off the rocks is a whole new ball game.

Nice work dude.

Big West Coast snap

And his first...
Here's the video link

(Swap ya 20 Rangi Rats for that fish!!!)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A few more flies

Rolled some more off the vice last night.

Deceiver variations.

.. I dont want to go..!

Justin Beiber Fan Club decided yesterday that we were going fishing. I wasn't that enthused when looking at the weather, besides which I wanted to go trout chasing. But, since she's keen... anyway the weather wasn't any better when I looked at the forecast this morning, and was certainly a bit stronger than "10 kts easterly". At break fast I received my instructions - "to go to the kingfish buoy, because I want to touch one" (a kingi that is), and to catch a big enough snapper to feed the family. Mmm ok. We went to Top Catch for some pillies and arrived at Narrowneck. I wasn't sure whether i wanted to beach launch in that wind with JBFC aboard.... but it looked ok and we were soon on our way. I stopped well short of Rough Rock to rig up, and in the space of doing that no less than 3 boats began to mill around the marker - 3!!!!!So we surged across to the channel markers, wind was stiffening and it was very lumpy so we took spray aboard with every wave. I got a good wind assisted cast away and turned my attention to a knot in the running line. By now we'd drifted well off the marker but as I retrieved I came up solid on a fish that must have taken the fly softly. A spirited fight but soon it was in the net.

Kingfish touched, Part I of mission completed!

Black over purple. Works again.

We didn't hang around too long, and headed into the harbour... where if anything the waves were larger and more frequent. I didn't like the looks of this at all. We drift fished and then anchored for a while before deciding to cut our losses. The ride back was rough and the wind was increasing, i was now worried about the retrieve... and well I should have been.

I anchored her off the beach and went ashore to bring the trailer down. When I got back a couple of waves had broken into the boat and JBFC was looking a little like a drowned rat. Getting the boat on the trailer I was helped by a guy who looked like a French rugby player. More water aboard. I jumped in the truck and pulled out... JBFC was sitting in a puddle in the bottom of the boat... ooops.

Can't win them all, I guess.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Magic Tuesdays

Ever heard 30lb mono snap on a strike? It sounds like a rifle going off…. Yesterday I arranged for Tim to join me on what is becoming my weekly Tuesday evening expedition. I got away from work a bit earlier than usual, headed home, loaded the boat and set off for Narrowneck. The launch was a bit more exciting than I’d expected, weather chart showed no wind whatsoever, yet a snotty little NE had waves rolling in, short little 1 and a half footers. Shipped a bit of water as the boat went in, but pulled her nose around and anchored her off while I went and parked the truck. The beauty of a small boat… ramp launches not required. I was supposed to meet Tim at 5.30 and found myself with half an hour to kill, so rigged up the 11 weight with a 30lb leader and a big purple over black Mega Mushy.

Black over purple, classic marlin lure colour. Turns out kingis like it too!

Rolled up to spot 1 and got a good drift, nice amount of outgoing current against the NE gave me plenty of casting opportunities, first cast elicited the usual splashy chase but no hook-up, and as usual the fish went down straight away. So I moved over to a channel marker and set for a long drift. Third cast was perfect, fly would be pulling up against the current, the wind was holding me in place, what happened next was explosive to say the least. A relative monster kingi (a Rangi monster is 8kg+ in my books) shot out and hit the fly like a guided missile, I hit him and the leader absolutely cracked like a rifle going off. I’ve never busted a Perfection Loop before… just one more knot to avoid now…. I’ve already ditched Lefty’s Loop (Rapala knot) as being unreliable in big hit situations. While the adrenaline was pumping I also felt a bit deflated. Every sizable fish I’ve hit out there had eluded me, either tearing me to shreds and now knot failure. I almost packed it in, but decided I had enough time to re-rig for another shot. The new fly got hit immediately and after a lot of to-ing and fro-ing involving starting the motor and dragging him off the marker (with an audience of gin palace patrons) I got the net under him.

New purple over white version of Mega Mushy - gets bitten!

Fishing single handed for marker kings is quite exciting at times, and downright dangerous at others (imagine rolling sea, wind pushing, big sea running, bearing down on collision course with the channel marker... no wonder there are dents in some of them). Got the fish back in the water after a photo, broke down the rod and scooted across the harbour to grab Tim. The wind had dropped to nothing and the ocean resembled a pancake. We headed down to Sargeants and on the way I asked Tim if he minded if I cast at various structures, glad he said “do it” because we hit the kingis big time. We had a solid session, during which the big ones on the sounder were noticeable for staying deep (I’m hatching a plan…), and during which Tim landed his first kings on fly.

Maintaining a deep smooth bend

As the session went on, I asked Tim to throw his Nuke Chicken in – it was completely ignored, the kings wanted nothing of it, yet ate the fly every time.

We moved over to see if we could snag a snap…. No bottom sign whatsoever and tide was almost at low ebb. There was a small breeze so with wind against tide we were almost stationary. Out with the drogue and we crabbed across the channel, not cool. We moved a few times before I hit a fish mid water with the inkichu and brought up a decent snap. Little did I know that that would be it.

Our run back to Okahu was in perfect sea conditions, absolutely flat sea against the setting sun.

Waitemata perfection
 I dropped Tim off and set my nav light before heading across the harbour. On the way back, well I couldn’t help but chuck a fly at spot 1 again now could I? A 4kg king chased the fly out without biting. With perfect casting conditions I was able to drop the fly right into and under the marker; I’d barely stripped when a rat hit the fly under the marker. I dragged his runty rat bum out and set about smacking it… in my dreams. What really happened was that with almost no drift on I couldn’t drag him away, he turned and charged around the chain. 2 new flies down for the day, not a bad return for 8 or 9 fish landed. Magic, and to think I used to hate Tuesdays.

A  gobfull

Tim on deer

Tim, bringing home the bacon

Enjoyed that video hugely.