Tackle and Tactics
Letters from New Zealand
It's springtime in New Zealand (lucky devils) and my pal Alan Bulmer has started fishing seriously again. He generally sends me a few pictures and a story just to whet my appetite.
I trust this note finds you and the family in good health.
It sounds like you have been busy fishing and had a few problems hooking up with circle hooks over the past week. I am glad that it came right in the end. The pike looked a solid fish.
I managed to get out fishing twice this week. On Saturday 3, I ambled down to spin fish the Manukau harbour at Waikowhai and on Wednesday 7 November I went out on 'Intrigue' with my work colleagues.
The spin fishing session was a blank. Neither Stuart nor I have hooked up at this spot in 8 combined trips and I strongly suspect that it is a dawn/dusk venue. Unfortunately the Reserve is locked early on an evening and unlocked after first light which makes it difficult to access the foreshore to fish the change of light (I have exactly the same problem at Worbarrow Bay ML). The water looks excellent with reasonable clarity, there is a good covering of weed and a profusion of food so there is nothing to suggest that the stretch will not hold fish. We regularly see large grey mullet (up to 2 kilograms) jumping out of the water in the shallow eddies so I am now going to take down my fly rod and specifically target mullet during the day.
The Waitemata trip was very interesting. The weather forecast stated that the day would be cloudy with isolated showers and this was accurate to a point. The skies were concrete grey all day and the showers were isolated all right…to the area immediately surrounding us!
We had a visitor, so we decided to take him out on the Waitemata in Peter Hawkins’ beautifully equipped boat 'Intrigue'. We ended up getting to the marina almost an hour after low tide. Given the time pressure, Peter decided that it was better to get out to the fishing grounds rather than have lunch in the quiet seclusion of the marina so we jumped on board and powered off at 18 knots to the outer harbour.
After about half-an-hour of steady steaming we reached the inside of Rakino Island. Here we dropped anchor and sat down to lunch that I had organised and set up on the journey out. Nothing too fancy, a freshly baked Quiche Lorraine and salad followed by a cheeseboard with pate, baguette, water crackers, fig paste and grapes (My mouth's watering ML). Driven by the urge to get fishing I wolfed down my lunch and excused myself before the rest of the team had reached the cheeseboard!
I rigged up my 7’ spinning rod, selected a 3” Slug-Go Silver/Grey soft plastic and rigged it on a weighted worm hook (¼ oz.). This was cast away from the boat and allowed to drift to the bottom on a tight line. First cast yielded a small Koheru which was promptly returned to the water. This spurred the team into action and within minutes there was bait and rubber being hurled in all directions. Nothing happened for a couple of casts so I changed drift. When I retrieved the lure on the first cast in the new drift I felt some gentle plucking as the lure got close to the boat and could see a brown shape harassing the lure. The shape darted off when it glimpsed the boat so I gave it some slack and it came back for another go. Hook up! This did not feel like a fish at all. Short bursts of activity followed by a dull, lifeless weight which came easily up from the depths. Imagine our surprise when a large squid surfaced at the back of the boat with the Slug-Go hooked firmly through the tentacle!. The squid was released without inking the Captain and crew and fishing continued. This is the first squid that I had caught on a soft plastic lure and Stuart remarkably dropped another later in the day.
The fishing was pretty slow after the initial burst of activity so Peter decided to head out further to fish around a group of rocks affectionately known as “The Noises”. We opted to drift fish here and it was hard going. Peter caught a few small Snapper on bait so I switched to a leger rig with a Redgill on the top snood and a baited circle on the bottom snood. Stuart persevered with soft plastic as he wanted desperately to break his duck but it was all in vain. I started catching small Snapper, Kahawai and Koheru regularly although nothing was of legal size. After around an hour of fruitless endeavour (2 x 32 cm Snapper) we decided to head back inshore to drift fish in the channel between Rakino and Motutapu Islands.
We fished in the channel for around ¾ of an hour but it was “Groundhog Day”, lots of small Snapper with no immediate likelihood of anything more substantial devouring the bait. It was decided that we should move closer to Waiheke Island for a drift fishing session as the sun had finally broken through the cloud and it was approaching dusk. Peter fired up the engines and we were at our destination within 10 minutes.
Stuart was the first to drop his soft plastic to the bottom as the vessel settled and the lure got smacked as it bounced on the bottom. This was more like it! The light spinning rod was bent into a healthy curve as a good Snapper powered off on a short run. There was no way this fish was coming to the boat without a fight. It was the classic tug of war. Stuart seemed to gain line and then lose it straight way for about 5 minutes but slowly the relentless pressure took its toll and the fish steadily made its way to the surface. The fish was a prime Snapper of around 1.5 – 2 kilograms and was quickly dealt with and placed in the fish bin. Not a bad effort for a first fish on plastic using a lightweight spinning rod.
This signalled the start of a “hot” session and for the next hour all of us seemed to be steadily catching Snapper between 1.5 – 3.5 kilograms on each drop with bait and soft plastic. I immediately switched back to my spinning rod when Stuart landed his fish and the two of us had an absolute ball catching Snapper on 2 – 2 ½ inch Sassy Shads on our light tackle. I opted for a ¼ oz jighead figuring that the slower descent would pay dividends. This tactic worked for a while but as the tide flow strengthened Stuart’s ½ oz. jighead was much more effective. The Snapper absolutely monstered the lures as they touched down on the bottom and were hard to control for the first few minutes of the fight. We dropped a coupled of larger fish when the hooks pulled and regularly lost plastic bodies to fish taking short. The biggest fish were caught on bait (see photographs) but the 2 kilogram Snapper were a revelation on spinning gear.
By now it was nearly dusk and we had to get back to clean the boat before darkness set in. The 4 of us had kept 12 fish and these weighed heavy in the bin. I filleted the catch on the way back in and everyone took home a decent feed of fish. All in all it was a great day on the water.
Today is looking promising from a weather perspective and there is no wind at present, at home. The low tide is mid afternoon which does not augur well for spinning in the Waitemata harbour. I will try and get out today as tomorrow is full of social engagements.
Keep up the good work. Tight lines!
This was followed quickly by a second email
I trust that you were able to get out fishing yesterday. The weather was stunning here - azure blue skies, warm temperature, the odd bunch of cotton wool masquerading as cloud and a light zephyr from the East - so I decided to head out to fish the low tide down at Tuhuna Turea. This fishing spot is a deep hole at the side of a main shipping channel which scours and changes shape regularly on account of the strong tidal flow. It is about a 25 minute walk across the sand flats to get to the target fishing spot. The only disadvantage of fishing in the mid-afternoon is the endless stream of boat traffic, many of whom cannot read the speed signs. Most skippers seem to think that a 5 knot sign is a measure of the current speed at the pole and not the speed at which their vessel should be travelling!
The walk across the sand was uneventful and conditions were perfect. Upon arrival I checked out the state of the hole and flow regime as it had been just over 12 months since my last visit and decided to fish with a weighted Sassy shad. To cut a long story short, ½ hour of casting yielded just one solid hit which did not result in a hook up. I checked the lure and as there were no teeth marks decided that it must have been a Kahawai.
My gut feeling was that the fish were holding tight to an underwater ledge that had been formed by the conflicting current streams entering the hole. To test this theory, I switched to the Yo-Zuri 3D Vibe sinking bibless minnow which I have been using a fair bit lately. First cast went out into the current and the lure sank quickly into the deep water. I started a slow retrieve with the occasional twitched “rip” of the lure. After about three rips the lure had reached the edge of the ledge and it was smacked hard by a small Kahawai. This initially gave a spirited account of itself but was no match for the braid and long rod. It was released after posing demurely for the camera. Over the next 20 minutes I hooked and landed two more Kahawai that were the mirror images of the first. This despite being harassed by a windsurfer, with his L plates still attached, who kept on falling over in the shallows.
Interestingly, I managed to hook a small shrimp on one retrieve with the bibless minnow. This has happened to Tim and me at least four times over the past 12 months. There must be a lot of shrimp present as the chances of hook up seem infinitesimally small given their tiny size. My guess is that the slow retrieve coupled with the ripping action could be the problem. Shrimps could be attracted to the vibration and get pinned by the lure as it lurches forward on the rip?
I have spoken to Stuart about this spot and we are going to target it at first light or dusk as this is most likely when the larger fish will be feeding and the boat traffic is at its lowest.
Unfortunately I cannot get out today due to family commitments even though the weather is once again ideal.
Best regards and tight lines!
It would be great to spend some time over there in the winter but it's such a long way to go.
If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you.'get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to - firstname.lastname@example.org