While my first passion is fly-fishing, I have also become interested in fishing for whatever the sea can provide since moving to the coast in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. I have had a lot of fun in the last seven years, fishing up and down the coast with electric Kontiki, surfcasting and spinning rods.
I can recall one time when I was bringing my Kontiki in and it was quite a dark night. I could see where my Kontiki was because the probe light on top was clearly visible. I had the Kontiki approximately 300metres from shore when suddenly it took off at a brisk pace from my right to my left. I rang up Sharen at home from the beach as I was expecting my son Scott to be arriving for the weekend. I told her to send Scott down quickly as I had something pretty big on the line.
Shortly, Scott arrived down on the beach to see what I was on about and just in time too. I observed in the darkness on the second hook being winched in, a very large shape indeed. I put the spotlight on it and holy mackerel, it was a monster snapper of 11kg or 25lb!
Surfcasting along the local beaches can also be a lot of fun with all sorts of fish turning up from time to time. I can remember fishing at Torore Beach just up the road with Sharen and her brother Wayne. As soon as we arrived we saw that the Kahawai were in a feeding frenzy straight in front of us. It was just a matter of throwing in the line and waiting less than a minute for the hook up and then it was all on!
One of the reels on my rods started screaming and the bait tore off into the depths. I grabbed the rod, which was under huge strain and then saw in the distance a large marlin-like fish leap out of the water. I actually thought it was a marlin because I had never experienced anything like this before.
I did not possess a “GO PRO” at this time but we did have a video camera so I summoned Sharen to get the film rolling. Slowly but surely I got the fish under control and pulled it up to the beach. I had a two-hook leger rig on but one hook and the sinker were missing. The remaining hook broke off as I beached the fish.
It was an impressive Thresher Shark of about two metres, obviously feeding on the Kahawai we had previously been enjoying catching. Thresher Sharks are quite spectacular looking creatures and are dangerous at both ends of their bodies. Their mouth for obvious reasons and their tail, which is about a third of the length of their body. They use this tail to stun their prey (like a club) before they gobble them up.
I couldn’t wait to see the video footage of this but when I got home and plugged the camera into the TV I discovered I had a whole three seconds of action – that was all that was left on the video camera when filming began, hardly enough to see a breaking wave.
It is amazing what turns up on the beach here at times. Every morning I take my dog “Memphis” for a walk. We have a standard route but because he is a Chocolate Labrador (a big one at that, nudging 50kg) often I have to have him on a lead because he can be intimidating to the uninitiated. even though he is in fact very gentle, good with kids and Mia the cat who is certainly the boss of the two.
On these walks we have come across deer, pigs and goats washed down from the Waioeka River when the river has been in flood. We have come across seals sunbathing on the beach, where at times Memphis has run over to introduce himself with a confused look on his face – no doubt thinking to himself “what a funny looking dog you are”.
Other times the beach can be littered with huge jellyfish, sometimes the harmless type and occasionally the nasty stinging types like bluebottle.
One of the strangest sites I witnessed on one of our morning walks was an entire herd of cows several hundred metres out to sea and others calling them in from the beach. What had happened was that the Waioeka River was in flood and had taken out a fence and filled up a low lying paddock nearby with water. The stock in this particular paddock had nowhere to go and were at the mercy of the river.
Surprisingly, cows are very buoyant and being stuck out in the ocean for a period isn’t really a big deal for them. The local farmer spent all day rounding the cattle back onto his farm on his quad bike as they made their own way back to shore spread out over a length of about five kilometres. Only one calf was lost which was a pretty satisfactory result under the circumstances.
Another time, I can recall surfcasting off the beach at Torore with a workmate and it must have been somewhere near midnight when I got this strange pull. I couldn’t see much because it was so dark but it was certainly strong and was yanking me consistently left and right, like Memphis does when he is on a lead. I got it to the shore and it was soon evident why this fish was resisting me with such a peculiar motion. It was a large Conger Eel that was actually quite aggressive when on the beach. My fishing mate smacked it on the head and said his relatives would appreciate it. I suppose it would have been about 20 pounds so no doubt they had a few good meals out of it.
I have been fortunate to be able to have several fishing options on my back door in the last seven years or so and hopefully I can enjoy them for many years to come yet.
The fishing hobby is a lifelong apprenticeship with no end. That is to say, you are always learning. It is quite interesting when you interpret different books, how you can get some interesting ideas from some and some conflicting ideas from others. That doesn’t mean that they are not both good reads, it’s just that I believe personally that there is no right or wrong way to fish.
I think when you read about fishing it pays to have an open mind and take in as much information as possible. You will eventually find a magazine or author that fits into your line of thinking – trout fishing is very much a mental game. Many articles will have standard techniques to apply to your trade and what to avoid. This is all good information but as an individual sometimes you have to analyse the moment and various techniques may have to be altered.
For example, a dry fly is generally cast in front of a trout and allowed to drift over it and as it rises to take the fly you count two seconds before striking to allow the trout to submerge and close its mouth – correct?
Generally so, but did you know there are times when the dry fly has passed over the trout who has showed no interest, only to be picked up by a trout while the fly is swinging on a fast drag at the end of its run. This isn’t natural surely – the drift is too fast and the line of drift is wrong but sometimes the trout sees the disturbance and mistakes the floating fly for a swimming emerger and I have caught many fish like this as I have on the nymph. The swinging fly can be deadly, be it dry, nymph or wet – be prepared!
When using a nymph in water for the first time, if you are unsure of the weight to be applied, go lighter first. This will give less chance of spooking the fish and if this doesn’t work after a few casts then add some weight to your nymphs.
How about tying your own flies – they are easy and a lot cheaper once you are set up. Trust me, catching a fish on your own creation is a real buzz – almost as good as the day you caught your first fish on a fly rod. Remember, a lot of the flies you see in a fishing shop are there to catch the fisherman, not necessarily the fish. Follow simple patterns like the Woolly Bugger wet flies and the Hare and Copper nymphs and you wont go far wrong.
What about “matching the hatch” or what type of lure to use? This isn’t too hard – in the summer have a good look at what is circulating around the water in big numbers. It could be the lace moth, green beetle, mayfly, cicada or all of the above. Match your artificial to these with particular reference to size.
The tackle test is another important factor to consider. Your gear should be good quality if you intend to do a lot of fishing. The right line length to suit your rod, with the reel type not being that important as its main purpose is to store line. As long as it runs freely that will be fine. Personally, I like the real loud ratchet ones that let out a sound when running that can only be linked to a trout – just as a cicada is the sound of summer.
Nylon traces should be replaced often and even half full nylon reels should be trashed after a while because nylon does deteriorate and you wouldn’t want to lose that once in a lifetime fish because you couldn’t be bothered changing your line. Check your line regularly and if a wind knot occurs then replace it. Do not put discarded nylon in the water – take it home with you and bin it there.
If you intend to catch and release your fish then there is a right and a wrong way to go about it. Trout are pretty durable creatures and have a good survival rate, but if handled incorrectly will die. Never handle a trout by the gills and when using a landing net, consideration should be given to using rubber mesh nets that are now available because these are much more friendly to a trout’s skin than string type nets. Try to avoid handling the trout but if you do so, wet your hands to avoid burning their protective slime. Sometimes a trout will need to be cradled in the water for a while before departing back into the main river flow. Be patient and allow the trout as much time as it needs, facing it up current in quieter water. Some of the brownies in particular love being cuddled and are in no particular hurry to get back into their beat. I have held these fish at times until my hands are freezing and then the trout will just calmly move away. Is it paying me back for catching it? Who knows?
So these are just a few tips and ideas to consider, I hope you find them helpful.