Tuesday, September 25, 2012

NE =

The prevailing NE wind at this time of year signals warm water arriving and with it comes a host of fish to do fishy things; anchovies and pilchards run and spawn as do snapper and post spawning & juvenile kingfish chase the bait and so it goes. The charter guys are reporting surges of male snapper schools, not super hot workups just yet but encouraging all the same. We are probably only a few weeks from kingis turning up on the marker buoys in the harbour, so time to get ready for them again. I can't sit and tie lots of flies anymore so just roll 2 or 3 off the vice at a time. Noticed I'm running short of SL12s in 4/0 so will have to order more.

The generic Mega Mushy is easy to tie and gets my tick as the #1 kingfish fly... my #1 anyhow. It flows and has nice flash in the water.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Goose decoy maintenance

I've seen some pretty hoary goose decoys out in the field, and there's no escaping the fact that they can get pretty bounced around in the truck/trailer/ute; and that takes a toll. After last weekend's hunt where it was wet, I didn't have much of a chance to get everything nice and dry, maybe only 90%. My dekes live in slotted bags, and most of the time they have socks on the flocked heads but given that the bags/socks got soaked last time out, I didn't re-sock them.

Got them out this morning for a clean-up.

There are 2 brands of full bodies in my mix, GHGs and FAs. If I were going to buy again, I'd avoid the FAs like the plague. Just taking one of the sentry geese out this morning, I broke its leg mount. This piece is critical to their upright geese versions, as the base mounting ring slides up inside the decoy's leg. So at the moment I have some 2 pot going to work, hopefully the repair is smooth.

Stupid leg arrangement

2 pot mix... hopefully it works

Secondly, the paint quality is awful. The FAs are chipped to crap already. In fact, they came out of the box with paint rubbed off.

Candidate for flocking?

Bad chipping
Anyhow, got the bags airing and hopefully after the remedial work the FA sentry can go back into the field.

I recommend Avery's full body slotted bags, tough & durable

I have my eye on some Higdon Alpha Wobblers to stack out the spread a bit .. maybe some FAs will appear on auction websites soon.

All snug in their bag

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Flocking your dekes

When Tim and I hunted with Paul earlier this year, we were introduced to his home rolled fully flocked mallard decoys. Now it's definitely a leap of faith to take to your decoys with adhesive and flocking and paint and god knows what else, because good decoys aint cheap.

Rather than seek advice, I just thought "yeah I'm into that" and set off at a million miles per hour. First, I found a couple of Avery full body hens from the batch that turned a lovely shade of pink/peach :)...

You need to catch loose flocking as it is applied - I used a small fish bin
Then I looked around for flocking, and found some locally sourced stuff that was coarser than normal flocking. Then I used a plastic based spray paint as adhesive; and shook the flocking on.


Next you need to leave your flocking to dry for at least 24 hours. Very important. And don't do what I did - touch it and knock patches off... doh. Around about there I had a giant epiphany or "DOH!" when I spoke with Paul about how to get the colour mix and he told me he'd ordered flocking in the right base colours.

So I had to figure out some greylard colour schemes which I did, and air brush the dekes.

Took me a few weeks to get around to it.

Grey duck

Mallard hen

Just got to do some colouration work on the grey version, green beak and green-grey legs. From 20m they look pretty real and anything that close should be dead before it realises its mistake....

Saturday, September 22, 2012

On Killerweed....

Last week Matt told me that we'd be hunting in pretty much crap pasture covered in all sorts of rushes, weeds and other assorted crap. In my mind's eye I pictured brown top and rushes, so thought that rather than grassing the layout, I'd use the "Winter Wheat" Avery Killerweed that I had lying around.

Here are my impressions:
  • One box is supposed to cover a layout. Uh-uh, no way. 2 boxes will almost do the job - I was into the 3rd box before I was happy with coverage.
  • The texture is quite good and disguises the blind well enough
  • Its a damn sight lighter than grass to carry...
  • Even so, you can't ditch it at the end of the hunt so carrying it out again is unavoidable
  • The colours weren't quite right, a bit too much yellow, but that's my fault for assuming we'd be on brown top and the actual hunting took place in green grass with rushes
  • Next time I'll use god's own green grass.
  • There are never any shortcuts that work as well as the real thing.
Here are some shots

I might have a shot at dying it a bit greener - could be a winner after that. I probably wouldn't go out of my way to buy it again.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Goose hunt video

Matt makes another video - highlights quite nicely how the geese came in from all over, not just where we wanted them...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Spring geese

Quick report - arrived at 03.45 at nominated spot. Matt, Tony & Derryn were running slightly late. When they arrived we pulled in and set about carrying our gear "250 metres" to the X where the geese had been. Matt can jam his 250 metres up his butt --- (said fondly. No, I'm fond of Matt, not his butt) the round trip was easily a km (later GPS'd at 1.3km). I should have left a bag of dekes in the car but decided to take 3 bags of full bodies, my blind bag crammed with unnecessary junk, my layout and of course my gun. Being that it was raining I was clad in over trousers and heavy jacket. 2 trips out were required.... then we set about trying to find where Matt & Tony had scouted the birds. We got set up and as usual in the dark the decoy set is a bit of a lottery but we got it pretty spot on. As the light came up the first birds began to move, mostly in pairs and several got up from a creek near by. By mid morning we had a few down and then they started coming in regularly. The weather improved dramatically, with sun appearing over head and the temperature rising. We had quite an array of opportunities, not the usual in the face decoying birds so some interesting shots were taken. By 10 am it was all quiet, and with 2 dozen birds down we knew we had a hard job ahead.... after some obligatory shots we began to bring in the decoys... and then the hike out began.

Smile now boys... you'll be grimacing soon!

25 birds @ 4-5kg each. Shit. All the decoys. Shit. It was a slog. A real slog through basically bog. Shit. But man we were happy boys by the time we returned to the trucks. Then off up to Matt's place to clean the birds, a good drive home and now I'm idly watching my wet weather gear drying. Thanks lads, beaut hunt.

Tony & Matt, smiling again.. post grimace

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Moron (more on) Taimen.... *sigh*

'Scuse the stupid pun. Taimen information keeps on pouring in... retaining it will be difficult. What I'm seeing here is quite a distinct pattern of similarities to fishing in NZ in the Autumn - lower water, cool or cold nights, mostly warm days. So gear-wise its not going to be too much to prepare for I think... especially as we'll not be travelling with fishing tackle (supplied by outfitter - but I'll damn well be making sure its the good sh*t or I will take my own).

I do have a couple of gear items that need upgrading. I'll be in the market for an outer garment to replace my current rain jacket.. No matter what, I'm determined to not be wet and cold, as that quickly can detract from the fun of a trip. Lucky we live in a land where living outside is pretty much an easy proposition - so there are a number of really good local manufacturers. Our weather can change in minutes - one time when I was in the South Island the temperature dropped an alarming 12 degrees in 20 minutes... that time I was in Christchurch so not a drama but one could easily have set out up a river on a pleasant hot day and got caught out.

I don't think that with Mongolia being so central within a continent that rapid weather changes will be as prevalent as here, but I damned if I wont be ready for it.

2:45 am

The not quite far northern contingent have tracked down some pesky geese being pesky on a farmer's paddocks.

Dark moon - check
Geese located - check
Weather conditions blustery - check
Decoys ready - check
Gun cleaned & checked - check
50 gram #2 lead shells ready - check
Thermos out and ready - check
Batteries in headlamp strong - check
Camera powered up - check

With the daylight hours extending I'm not going to get away with sleeping in until 3.30 am, so its going to be 2.45...... no beers during the rugby test match this evening I think.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Researching, as you do....

Been trawling around the 'net as you do, mainly looking for fly patterns to try on Mr. Taimen next year. Found this site... where they talk about chopping up your prized catch and eating it! Really???

I mean these things are endangered. Trust me, I love catching and eating fish and am no wowser but somehow the idea of travelling vast distances to catch a rare-ish fish only to smack your catch on the head and roast it on a spit... well.

This passage got me wondering:

"What they eat and when

Cannibalistic is the word best used to describe the diet of the Mongolian Taimen. The actual term is piscivorous, for all you smart guys/girls out there. All it really means is that they mainly eat other fish. But here’s a surprise for y’all. They are known to hunt waterfowl (ducks, geese, etc.) as well as terrestrial rodents that wander into the water.

Taimen eat like all other salmon-like swimmers; opportunistically. When food becomes available, they become hungry, like the average human teen-ager."

Now I would love nothing more than to hunt ducks or geese since I'm going all that way, I wonder what's available up there? More digging to do....

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Andy, on Mongolia

What a bonus! My friend Andy and his wife spent time in Mongolia a couple of years back. So he has been able to offer some advice. Some of it has been mint, so I'm sure he'll be happy if I share.

(Thin skinned folk from Huntly should switch off round about now. Or, if folks from Huntly choose to stay, consider this an insider joke. Andy's brother's wife is from Huntly...)

Snuffit: Here we go (sorry)
Andy: Don’t be

Snuffit: Did you take USD?
Andy: Yes, lots of it – but they had banks/ATMs that worked with our UK cards easily enough to get local and then change to USD.

Snuffit: Do they accept credit cards?
Andy: In some places.

Snuffit:What time of year were you there?
Andy: July / August

Snuffit: Would you recommend backpack or some other type of luggage? (thinking duffle)
Andy: Def backpack, don’t know how far you’ll be lugging things.

Snuffit: Is UB modern/decrepit/like Huntly?
Andy: A real mix, not like Huntly. Huntly is all decrepit, UB is probably 3/5 decrepit.

Snuffit: How far around the country did you guys go?
Andy: We were on the road for 5 days in Mongolia. Looking at our route on the map showed we covered and incredibly small part of the country but it was 5 days hard travel.

Snuffit: How did you travel?
Andy: By train in and out and by “Russian jeep” in Mongolia. Russian jeep is like an overgrown combi wagon. About as comfortable as travelling on a spade towed behind a herd of goats.

Snuffit: Are the locals friendly/mean/aggro/like people from Huntly?
Andy: Like anywhere in the world. A mix but mostly nice. We rocked up to a group or Gers (round yak tents) and asked if we could stay. The whole family moved out into the cooking tent to let us have the big one for the night. It was awesome.

Snuffit: More to come...
Andy: Bring it on.

Later, as perhaps an afterthought to stop me hiring a "Russian jeep" and doing it myself, Andy offered this...

"Just thinking about Mongolia.  Outside of UB, it is total wild west.  Shanty towns in the middle of nowhere, dogs and pigs running free, most people living a nomadic life, huge grassy valleys and wooded mountains – with NO ONE anywhere in sight.  Most of the “roads” are just tracks across the grass that move as one gets cut up, muddy etc. and another becomes more friendly.  The ‘roads marked on google maps for example are just an idea of where you could drive and not where you should… see screenshot below…"

Adventure Time!!!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Auckland - Narita - Ulaanbaatar..... Moron

Yup, Moron really is a place. A place in Mongolia. A place on the way to where stuff like this lives...

Roll on next September.... at last, something seriously cool to do in the lay month. TT, his wife Nicki and a couple of us hanger-on types are going to spend 6 days rafting down a remote river starting 30km from the Russian border.

Bucket list material! The stuff dreams are made of. Can September 2013 come fast enough?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Spring cleaning

Normally September  heralds a bit of a lull; game birds are over, trout season is a month away... so far the snapper fishing seems patchy; however we are in the grips of a (dreaded) north easterly which has brought warmth, and rain, and no doubt will help the warmer water reach our shores which in turn will trigger snapper into spawning. Right now, schools of bait fish are still offshore accompanied by hunting dolphins and gannets and some reports of good fishing on plastics and slow jigs are beginning to come in.

Being weather-bound, I had a bunch of maintenance tasks to get through.

First, my old Tibor Gulfstream had been drag-slipping somewhat. No matter how tight I had screwed in the drag knob last time out the drag eased and slipped. Not great with a kingi rampaging on the other end.... luckily (?) I hadn't hooked anything large enough to do the rampaging, but still. These things are a cruise to service, simple draw-bar design makes it a cinch, the only gotcha is to watch out for the A/R springs but I give them a good grease coating so they don't wander off easily (I once spent a couple of hours searching around for an Abel A/R spring that lept across the room... not fun). Actually the Tibors come with spare springs tucked away in a wee orifice, which is good thinking. Once apart I checked the drag plate, cleaned it, gave it a once over quick touch up with fine sand paper and cleaned again. Once re-assembled it was restored to it's full drag powers, so I set it up on the #12 and tested the drag over a pulley and lifted 7kg easily enough on a pretty flat rod angle. The drag was smooth as a baby's bum.

Then I noticed that the loop-to-loop on the reel end of the #12 floater was looking worse for wear (not sure why as it has only been through the guides once that I can remember) so I replaced that.

Made sure all the fly rods had survived their winter neglect ok and they had.

Onto the other gear. Re-spooled the 6kg spin reel with new braid. Actually used some 4.5kg Gortex stuff and got 220m on the spool, pretty impressive on a 4000 sized reel. Checked guides for cracking and then checked the reels. The old SL30sh Daiwa needed a new bearing so dropped that into Hunts. And, as you do, had a good chin-wag with Ian and Roger. Good guys and supporting your local is important.

Back home it was time to shake down the boat. First thing I noticed was that some dick-wad had nicked my Warrant of Fitness sticker. Secondly, the number plate light was out of action. Took the motor cover off and checked for corrosion, but all was good. On with the ear-muffs and she started pretty much straight away, very encouraging. Out with the drills etc to install some Railblaza stuff that Tim had got for me. I like the low profile star port system, anything to avoid line catching when fly fishing. JBFC sat in the boat offering encouragement as I installed 4 new rod holders. Then vacuumed up the ali filings. Boat almost done, still need to replace the plate lamp and get a warrant replacement.

What I didn't anticipate though, with thoughts of fish and tackle maintenance dominating, was the enormity of the rain that arrived this morning. If my spring cleaning/maintenance had extended to the house I may have noticed the broken roof tiles that caused a pretty epic leak......