Tackle and Tactics
More foreign fishing.
This week I have two interesting pieces from, more or less, opposite ends of the world. My pal Alan Bulmer has been catching kahawai in New Zealand and another friend Jonny Atherton - a crack fly fisherman - has been after striped bass in the USA. First Alan -
SUNDAY 1 JUNE 2008
Here in NZ, it is the Queen’s Birthday holiday weekend and this traditionally represents the last public holiday before the grip of winter envelopes the country. We had promised to visit my parents on the Sunday to catch up on the gossip and some jobs around their section. Fortunately this coincided with a mid morning low tide so we motored down late on Saturday night so that I could go fishing the following morning.
The weather forecast was for cloud and scattered showers but when I awoke on Sunday morning it was stunning. Warm and sunny with a hint of fog glazing the bush clad hills. There was a chill in the air when I walked (or should I say hobbled) (He's just wrecked both his knees playing football - ML) across the mudflats at 8.00 am but the warm sun took care of that in short order. Native birds were arguing in chorus in the bush canopy across the estuary. The gin clear water glinted turquoise when I reached the main channel. The normal gusty wind was for once holding its breath. Huge shoals of Yellow eyed mullet were cruising in the margins, rising every so often to scoop detritus from the surface film. Conditions were ideal for spinning.
Trevally normally enter the northern estuaries in winter and I’d caught a few on my last trips out at Whangamata. Bearing this in mind, I selected a soft bodied lure (1/4 oz jighead, 3” Riptide mullet) and targeted the deeper holes in the main channel. The ebb tide was still racing strongly so the best option was to cast straight out and mend the braid immediately as if downstream wet fly fishing for trout. Nothing happened in the first ½ hour and by then I’d moved about 100 metres. The next cast was bouncing nicely along the bottom helped by the occasional wrist twitch, when the line suddenly stopped and headed upstream. I struck, came up tight and felt the strumming of a solid tail on tight line. The fish charged upstream for about 15 metres and then spat the hook. Bugger!
I checked the lure and continued downstream to where a freshwater stream enters the estuary proper without any more action. Here a large eddy had formed and it was alive with feeding YEM and smaller baitfish. All of a sudden a trevally shot out of the main channel, its dorsal fin completely out of the water, and cut a swathe through the mass of baitfish. It turned in a huge swirl and tracked back into the main flow. I cast well out into the channel and started to drift the lure back on a tight line arc. Halfway thorough the drift a trevally made another pass through the eddy and concluded by swirling on the surface about 20 metres below where I was standing. By now my lure was about 5 metres from the swirl so I gave it two fast jerks and it got absolutely spanked. Game on! I saw the silver flash as trevally felt the hook bite home and it looked about 6 lbs. It shook its head violently and then charged upstream over the lip of the channel into deep water. Once safe in the depths it turned on its tail and headed downstream with a vengeance. I applied heavy side strain and truncated the run only to see the fish tail spin again upstream. This time as it charged over the channel lip it managed to throw the hook. Bugger squared! The jighead hook was quite small in the shank so when the 3” lure was fitted the end of the tail was about 2” behind the hook bend. My guess is that both fish took short and were hooked in the edge of the lip. When extra side pressure was applied it simply tore the hook out.
By now it was nearly dead low and Sandy and the boys had arrived to gather some pipis. I crossed the stream to greet them, attached a Yo-Zuri S 3D Vibe bibless minnow and re-enter the estuary on the downstream side of the inflow. The channel below the stream had scoured out heavily over the past 2 months and was deep. With the heavy hard bodied lure it was possible to cast right across the channel and drift the lure through the deepest sections. Perfect! (see photograph).
First cast and the lure got nailed almost as soon as I started to retrieve. A feisty 18” Kahawai took to the air and headed off upstream. This fish did not want to stay in the water and jumped five times in quick succession. In between jumps it tore up and down the estuary in short aggressive bursts. Eventually I was able to wear it down enough to get it into the shallows where it rolled again on the surface and threw the lure. Bugger cubed!
I re-entered the water and cast out again and hooked up on another smaller fish almost immediately. This one did not jump and after a short tussle was beached and released. To cut a long story short, the next hour was like fishing in the “highlights package” as I hooked another 8 Kahawai of 12 – 18” and landed 6 of them for a final score of Fish 5, Alan 7. It was excellent sport by any standards. All of the fish were returned to fight another day.
Interestingly, I never hooked any trevally on the hard bodied lure which is adding more weight to the theory that they seem to prefer soft bodied lures fished with a slow drifting retrieve. The kahawai are absolute suckers for the bibless minnow and seem to always hit aggressively just after a short rip and not when the lure is being retrieved steadily. More experimentation is obviously required, and soon!
I trust that you have been able to get out and in amongst the bass. Tight lines and very best regards,
Now Jonny -
Mike and Rich, -
Thought you might like to see this one from a local shore Friday night. One of 6 that night, mixed with some crazy sport with blue fish. The striper took a weighted Clouser minnow.
I couldn't leave it at that so I asked for a bit more detail to put on the website -
Hey Mike -
Sure, throw it on your site if you like. Description would be something like: A large Striped Bass from the Connecticut shore, around 34" and fat as a pig! The fish took a weighted Clouser pattern (the rod is a 10' trout rod, fished with an 8 weight intermediate line). Movement of tide is the key to catching these bass. They sit in tidal estuaries or along beaches this time of year and just wait for bait fish to flow past. Timing the tide at dusk or at night seems to produce even better results, particularly given the limitations of the shore-bound fly angler. Mostly it's being in the right place, right time!
This fish scrapped like hell. But not as hard or as dramatic as the blues, which require wire or 50lb shock tippet to bring in. Their teeth are lethal!
Glad you liked the pick. Not sure why I carry three lighters for one cigar, but there you are.
They sound like my sort of fish - how about you. Life's just too short to do everything isn't it?
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
Into a fish.
Jonny's best bass of the session.