Fly fishing – in Auckland? In saltwater?
When in the course of human events city bound fly fishermen need a local fishery then they will eventually find one. I think NZ fly fishers think of themselves as primarily trout fishers who have to fall back on saltwater excursions to fill in gaps between trips to various salmonidae havens. As for myself – this is my third trout season without purchasing a licence. A major departure from my fishing habits dating back to my teen years.
As I wrote in a FlyLife Shortcasts a few years back, hopefully there comes a time where swoffing transitions from being exotic and occasional to becoming domestic and (hopefully) daily: sort of like from dating to marriage!
In the summer of 2011, for Auckland I think this important watershed was achieved for a number of local fly fishers. This is not to say there was not previous swoffing – Saltfly Sundays charters and isolated “secret squirrel” individuals, but I mean a wider grass roots realization and especially land based exploration, discoveries and recognition that a reliable and productive fishery exists. This means that for anyone in city suburbs you were potentially no more than 10-15 minutes from good fishing opportunities that could accommodate low to hide tides, spanning shelly beaches or oyster covered rocks, open water or mangrove settings.
To me the defining characteristic is that this is all walk or wade access – no boats, no 4WD, helicopters, float planes or extreme access gymnastics required. This is as close as it gets to a couch-potato fishery for the end-of-working-day swoffer.
The Waitemata and Hauraki Gulf are a recognized important snapper fishery. And 2010-11 has been by all accounts an exceptional season, and not just for snapper. During summer weekends, hundreds of angler set off at dawn in their boats, powering out into the channels or to distant spots to chase snapper. But as a band of swoffers have discovered, all that money and effort and time are actually unnecessary. What joys they are missing – crunching over jagged , shoe-shredding oysters or wading on mudflats. All you need is a bit of intelligent curiosity, solid footwear and a fly rod.