Tackle and Tactics
Alan Bulmer has been busy over in New Zealand so it was nice to hear that he's been fishing and caught a few fish. He always tells it 'like it is', so even though it's not bass or mackerel there's still something to be learned. Our new friend Jim's handmade lures are obviously the business. Here's Alan's latest tale:-
Managed to get down to the Coromandel this weekend to fish my favourite estuary. It was chilly overnight and dragging myself out of a warm bed when the outside temperature struggled to best 5 degrees Celsius was tough. Once up and dressed it was very pleasant though as the sun was beating down like a blow torch and the temperature climbed quickly.
I fished between 08:40 - 10:45 hours as low tide was at 11:00 hours. As you can see from the photographs the conditions were perfectly calm initially. The calm lasted until 10:20 hours when strong a SW gusting 10 knots developed. The weather was very summery with the temperature during session climbing from 5 - 19 C. The water clarity was excellent and it was possible with Polaroids to see the bottom clearly to about 5' in most places.
I started out threading a Ripple Shad onto a 1/3 oz jig head and used a classic wet fly, "across and down" retrieve whereby the lure is forced downstream in an arc by the current on a tight line. Fish began to move all around the estuary around 9.00 am and I saw several pack attacks in backwater directly across from where I was fishing and at side stream further up the estuary where we used to set a net.
As time went by the activity got closer and closer. I had a couple of tentative taps on sixth cast('furtive pluckers' I call them ML).
Not entirely convinced that it was a fish I repeated the drift and within seconds came up solid on a 2.5 lb kahawai. It headed off on one strong run but soon ran out of steam. From then on it decided that the best plan was stoic resistance in the shallows. Not the same fight as summer when the water is warmer. Eventually I beached the fish and decided to despatch it for lunch.
Returning to the fray I hooked another smaller fish two casts later. The fight was a mirror image of the first kahawai. Amazingly this one was shadowed by a couple of fish from the school as it wallowed and cavorted in the margins. Maybe it was due to the encouragement from its colleagues but it suddenly went ballistic and it dropped off as I was about to beach it. Given the number of fish about I decided that it would be a good time to test a couple of Jim Lanfear's hand made lures. First on was the 18 gram Zombie vibe. It only took two casts for the lure to get absolutely slaughtered as it swept past a mooring buoy. This was a much heavier fish which headed for the open ocean with turbos engaged. The endless thrumming suggested a good trevally. Just as I managed to turn its head and gain control a boat sped past. This had the same effect as a cattle prod with the fish spinning on its tail at high speed and spitting the lure.
I kept on moving steadily downstream trying various retrieves but could not buy another take. Eventually after 25 minutes I reached a moored yacht. A huge school of 10" yellow eyed mullet was balled tightly in the shallows, fins a quivering. I cast hard up against the yacht and allowing it to sink on a tight line and drift in an arc to the shore with an occasional rip. The lure got monstered in two successive casts as it lifted from the deep channel into the shallows. I dropped the first but landed the second smaller kahawai after a short tussle.
Next I returned to starting point and tied on a Real-as-stick bait. This lure casts like a dream, arrowing out straight and true far across the estuary. I did not hook anything on the first cast but saw a kahawai shadowing the lure. Next cast I opted to retrieve slowly with lots of short rips and pauses. As the lure came within eyesight I gave it a twitch, paused and watched a kahawai appear from nowhere to nail it. Struck hard but was unable to set the hooks properly. Fish on, followed by fish off as it tore away. Managed to get fish to hit the lure at the same place in 3 of the next four casts.
In the gin clear water it was possible to twitch the lure to elicit a strike from the following kahawai. Just like sight fishing with a fly. Epic! The fish always took on the pause. This technique should be called "stopper fishing". Landed two of these fish.
The wind got up after this so I could no longer see the fish chasing the lure. I had a couple of touches but could not manage to connect. What a mint session. 9 kahawai on with 4 landed. Lunch sorted.
Jim Lanfear's Zombie and Real-as-sticks both worked really well. The stick shad is sure to become a favourite as it is so visual. Seeing kahawai hammer a stationary lure three or four rod lengths out is simply epic. Heart stopping stuff.
Nice fishing eh? I was quite envious but it's not too easy to get to the other side of the World and join my pal. Email has to be the next best thing.
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