Monday at 0430 hrs six Taumarunui based saltwater fishermen with high hopes head to the small west coast township of Kawhia to board the charter vessel the “Dove”.She slips away from the wharf at 0700 with a total of 14 fishermen on board and included in our team of six are Robert my Bro Farmer , Travis his son Horizons man,George who is Roberts Cousin and Farmer in training, Ross the beared farmer, and our Cobba Dick the farmer retired, who by the way is blind and me Ken the supplier of gear.
As we motor down the harbour,which is calm, we settle Dick into a secure possy on a seat near the stern and proceed to set up gear.As we round the last turn and line up the run towards the bar we have a swell running in against the tide that has been flowing out for 2 hrs and it looks as though the swell forecast was not quite right .
As we head into the standing waves the Skipper Dennis passes out the Life Jackets and we outfit Dick first and help 1 of the Hamilton boys who has not put one on before.After some cautious sailing we make it clear of the Bar and into open ocean, and oh crikey it is a washing machine.We are heading into a southwest swell with alot of cross chop.At this point I am thinking thank goodness I took my Paihia Bombs seasick pills this morning.
We finally anchor up at 57meter and we are into it .Robert and Ross are helping Dick and I am helping George .This is his first trip out off shore and he is using my spare rod.First drop he hooks a Kahawai about 10meters below the boat, same again 2nd drop , 3rd drop and after a short wait he’s into a snapper and Robert is hooked up also, both fish landed.I finally get a bait in the water and just trying to stay on your feet is going to be a real challenge,seconds later george is being sick overboard ,and with in 10 minutes 3 others join in.One or two more snapper have been landed then all goes quiet, apart from guys being sick.
Half an hour goes by then travis hooks a good fish and is battling away when the line goes light , so he carries on in and a barracota head that is gasping its last appears , cut into bits buy a big shark. This does not bode well for this location, so we move and this senario plays out 4 more times with me joining the list of sickies around 1130hrs , OH gosh it is going to be a long day.
By the end of day we managed 14 snapper 6 kahawai 5 gurnard and 1 sand shark for 14 fisherman.We have had better days in lots of ways, but it was a day off work spent with good mates and boy we were all glad to be back on dry land at 1700 hrs.
It is amazing that as soon as your feet hit the dock that sick feeling eases and I have to admit I was grateful for that .
My wife Gill and I really enjoyed the snapper pan fried the next night, and yes snapper does win out in the end.
Well folks we are just into March and the evenings are cooling down and the sun is not rising all that early.On Sunday the 28th of February a group fo us took a wee journey out from Kawhia on the charter boat the Dove.
It was to be an eventful day with my Bro and best mate Robert Carter picking me up at 0430 and we stepped onto the Dove at 0635hrs , all aboard with our mates from Hamilton. We set off down the harbour and were getting close to the mouth when the skipper ,Dennis had a phone call alerting us to the likelyhood of a small Tsunami arriving mid morning from the earthquake in Chile.
We all had a quick discussion and decided to press on as they were forecasting a wave of less than 0,5 of a meter so we felt that it wouldn’t pose a major threat to us if we were fishing in at least 20 meters.
Well we crossed the bar and set off to the 40 meter spot Dennis had caught fish a day or so before.We dul;y arrived anchored and all we caught for an hour or so was Dog fish and spiney dogs ,so up anchor and move to just south of albatross point.
Within a few minutes we had a couple of gurnard a couple of snapper and more dog fish.Every body had got sick and tired of the dog fish tangles so after an hour of being patient the skipper said we would move south just past the Iron sands Bouy.
We set off heading south went past a moored boat and then realised that there was a strip of water about 300 meters wide on the starboard side that was alive with surface feeding fish .There were meat balls welling up that were 20 to 30 meters across ,fish everywhere ,and we kept on heading south and more and more activity.
The work up I think was probably about 1.5 kilometers long and we arrived at spot X on the south end of it inside the bouy about 3 kms off shore.
I have never seen such an eager bunch of fishermen and women to get their lines in the water, and as soon as we had settled at anchor we were into ot .Kahawai were all around the boat feeding on what appeared to be shoals of white bait with the occasional skippy motoring through .Kahawai and snapper were coming up onto the deck thick and fast, with one of the biggest horse kahawai landed that I have ever seen. Lots of good size pan snapper ,then Hello Richard has a fish on that is heading of towards the beach so he moves to the back of the boat.
After one and a half laps of the boat and Robert and I offering advice and encouragement a white flash is spotted under the boat, then a yellow tail ,yes where is the big net ,and after a couple of attempts the king fish is on the deck with a very happy Richard posing for a photo.
So we all get back to the business in hand to catching snapper, with some of us using stips of fresh kahawai,and after another snapper I get two good wack bites and a hookup.The rod is bent more than a right angle with the fish trying to run under the boat.Drag is tightened and I start to fight back good snapper nods or so I think ,I am slowly getting line back ,no Im not , three or four good runs and I am pumping the rod up and a white flash from under the boat.
Yes another yellow tail ,Robert grabs the net and we have another king fish on Board. My fish was not as big as Richards but still was a joy to fight and land.We caught a couple of snapper to fill our quota and that was it for the day.
No sign of the Tsunami or at least that we could tell but a great day off the west coast.
Welcome to the King Country once again for an update on spring fishing conditions.
The Whanganui river over the last week has been very coloured and flows have been up in the 165 cumec range and just as they start to receed we get more rain, so fishing has been very limited. We must remember it is spring and that is quite normal for us.
It certainly is making the grass grow and that will be good for farmers, and the hunters who make the effort on a fine evening to get out and check those bush edges and clearings.
Pigs appear to be out and about from the reports we are getting,and making a mess in those soft paddocks.
Changing tack slightly, reports from the West Coast are varied with the surf casters having to contend with big shoreline swells and dirty water, while the charter boats are starting to report the larger snapper are arriving with good numbers of gurnard and kahawai in attendance also.
So good luck to one and all who venture out to do their thing.
During a recent holiday to explore Northland we spent two days fishing with Murray from Arline Charters, on a 42 ft kauri boat that had lots of deck space and was very comfortable in sloppy conditions.
Murray was saying that there had been very little bait fish activity and gannet diving as the water temperature was very slow to rise this year due to the cold southwest winds that had dried Northland out.
The first day out ,about half tide the gannets really started to get into action all around the bay we were in ,then really went to town less than 10 meters from the boat for a few minutes .I must say you would not want to get hit by one.
Shortly after that work up the snapper were feeding well with a 12 lber landed by a chap from Wellington and shortly after a small Kingi.
Gill Landed a 3.75 lb snapper in prime condition , and when gutting the catch it was noted none of the fish had spawned.
The second day out was slow to start but a couple of slight shifts found snapper and I managed a 9.5 lb snapper with several others
around the 4 lb mark for all on board.
Thanks to Murray and Peter.