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.