Tackle and Tactics
NZ CHRISTMAS 2008.
24 December 2008
My pal Alan, in New Zealand, has been hors de combat with injured knees for a while but it seems from his recent email that he's well on the road to recovery so I guess that I can expect more exciting fishing news from down under in the near future. Here's his latest details of pre-Christmas fishing--
I trust this note finds you and Lilian in the best of health and spirits. Hopefully the snow is not deep and crisp and even!
Sandy, the boys and I managed to get down to Whangamata at the weekend. Luckily the low tides coincided with dawn and dusk so I managed to sneak out on the estuary a couple of times with my spinning kit. The weather was stunning on the way down. Warm sun, clear blue skies with nary a cloud and a pleasant zephyr to take the edge off the heat. The forecast was not so sharp for Saturday night and Sunday with squally showers predicted.
SATURDAY 20 DECEMBER
Low tide was at 8.30 pm so I opted for an early dinner and headed out at 6.15 pm. It was warm and muggy when I left the house but the rain clouds were gathering on the hills which was an ugly portent. I threw both a light and heavy raincoat in the boot of the car and headed off to the estuary. As I parked my car the breeze began to stiffen. It was blowing from the east with a distinct chill so I opted to don the heavy raincoat for my walk across the mudflats.
Despite my recovering knee, I sped across the puggy mud patches on the flats and was soon at the estuary proper. No problems. Normally the Snapper have started to arrive in the estuary by December so I opted to fish with a 3” soft plastic minnow on a ¼ oz. jighead. I last fished the estuary in September and it had changed somewhat. The main channel had moved towards the far bank and some of the deeper runs from last summer had shallowed appreciably.
I began by systematically working the minnow through a historically productive stretch but nothing touched the lure in the first 15 minutes. I then opted to move downstream and prospect a deeper run that seemed to have formed directly behind one of the larger launches moored in the estuary. First drift through the run was uneventful but the second drift resulted in a couple of “bumps” that were out of character with the regular bounce of the jighead along the bottom. I checked the lure at the end of the drift and sure enough it was pock marked with punctured holes…Snapper! I obviously needed to fish the lure on a tighter line and keep in better contact during the drift.
I lobbed the lure directly out from where I was standing, promptly clicked over the bail and tightened up on the lure as it dropped to the bottom. The tapping started immediately and I struck hard. Game on! The Snapper stayed put and shook its head repeatedly in disbelief. Then it charged off upstream on a short run parallel to the shore. I quickly applied side strain as I had to keep the fish inside the moored boats else it would run me around the anchor warp. It then charged downstream in the margins and turned back to face the current. This happened several times but slowly the inexorable side strain won out and it was led flapping onto the sand. At around 34 cm in length, it was a nice 2 ½ lb fish, fat and prime table fare. Three passing anglers in an aluminium dinghy watched the fight and could not believe it when the fish was beached. Snapper on a light spinning tackle from the shore. “Bizarre”!
The lure was not too badly damaged so I re-arranged it and tossed it out again. Again the bites could be felt on the drop and early drift but I could not seem to set the hook. The next cast I got it right and another Snapper spanked the lure hard. This fish (25 cm.) shook its head determinedly but did not run and was easily wrested to the shore and released. The lure was shredded by now and of no value so I replaced it and slid on another minnow body. I only managed a couple of casts before the front hit and the heavy rain descended in a curtain. It was starting to get dark so I opted to head home rather than get drenched to the skin.
SUNDAY 21 DECEMBER
Buoyed by the previous evenings success, I decided to get up at 6.30 am and head out onto the estuary again before breakfast. The rain squalls had passed overnight and all that remained was a rainbow and some light sea fret when I drove the car to the estuary. This quickly cleared as the sun came out but a strong 15 – 20 knot easterly remained. The easterly wind actually aids casting as it is directly behind the angler. I again opted for the 3” soft plastic minnow and headed straight to the prime lie from yesterday full of confidence.
What a difference 12 hours makes! I thrashed the water to a foam for 45 minutes for one brief toothy encounter which did not result in a hook up. The conditions were perfect. There were bait fish in the margins and the occasional predator was zooming in on a lightning raid to harass the bait fish. The Snapper had obviously moved elsewhere overnight so I decided to switch to a Yo-Zuri 3D Vibe bibless minnow and try and snare one of the feeding fish.
Most of the activity was upstream of the snapper lie so I set off prospecting the areas between the moored boats where the kahawai like to sit in wait between their forays shoreward. The conditions were ideal and it was very pleasant fishing. It was absolutely brilliant to be on the estuary again after nearly 4 months of inactivity. Suffice to say the fishing was hard and I did not get any touches for about 40 minutes. Eventually I managed to hook the small kahawai in the accompanying photograph. This fish fell for draw, pause, slow crank on the reel handle retrieve and immediately I hooked and landed another 3 fish. The largest was around 32 cm. long and it absolutely monstered the lure as it rose from the depths up the steep side of channel into the shallow margins. This kahawai tore back into the deep water and ran strongly into the current for about 5 minutes until exhausted when it was drawn back into the shallows and beached. Interestingly all 4 kahawai caught were pinned by both of the trebles as per the fish in the photograph. I suspect that they were hitting the lure from the side on the drop and the trailing body treble ended up impaling itself in their flank above the pectoral fins.
All in all, two great sessions. The knee worked like clockwork and did not cause any issues, no matter how puggy the underfoot conditions. In the immortal words of Gary Glitter “It’s good to be back”!
Tight lines and very best regards
How about that! I wish I'd been with him - it sounds like excellent entertainment.
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