Last summer in Auckland was not the greatest for the swoffing -inclined (especially land-based) – almost constant gusty winds and plenty of rain made it difficult to juggle places and times to find suitable locations that didn’t have churned up mud or sand in shore.
Now the spring has arrived and have managed to get some windows in the weather to get a fly into the mostly clear water. And God be blessed for kahawai – nothing else was turning up even when I tossed some berley in to wake the fish up.
And a pleasant surprise after the last 5-6 years of catching mainly juvenile fish in the sub 25cm cohort around the harbour, this year has provided mostly 35-45 cm specimens who definitely bend the 7 weight rod and even rip into the backing on occasion.
The weather cleared up and the high aligned with dawn high tide, so time to see if the elusive kingfish were back on the flats, with the water crystal clear and a slightly overcast sky.
However no rays or kingfish were in evidence on the top of the tide, so it was off to the sandbank to prospect for ambushing kahawai on the ebb flow. The first fish hit at the end of a fast retrieve but dropped off after a few seconds. Then two fish came the fly and stayed around long enough to be photographed:
Kahawai hit hard and fight hard
And best of all they jump, no matter what size they are!
A quick pose for the camera and then back to grow up some more
Then on the last fish, not a big one by any means, the leader snapped at the fly – on the loop while the knot was intact. Very strange – especially on 10 kilo fluorocarbon against a 500g fish!
And yes in the rush of early morning I left the line tray behind – and fly line knows how to find boot laces no matter how careful you are.
Roll on the warmer temperatures to bring the fish into the harbour and start patrolling the shallows!
Meola Reef fly fishing club meeting. Lesson One: First Catch your fish! (more…)
Out on the last of the ebb at Pt Chev, with a handful of berley, and the Vapen vanquished a 40cm snapper – my best in the harbour for maybe 3 or 4 years.
Got out this morning in the NE and no rain. The stalking area was tea coloured. Almost turned around and left, but then decided to walk 15 mins along to the point at the end to see if there was any shelter around the corner. Fortunately there was and I started tossing a smaller 1/0 clouser pattern on the new Nemesis with the brand new Sage 2280 fly reel I spooled up last night.
No hits or fishy signs for first 60-70 minutes, but as the tide turned and current picked up I hit about four small kahawai that all fell off.
I was just about to leave and while wading back along the sand bar when a stingray came up alongside me. It was a couple of meters beyond my rod tip. I didn’t see any escorts but then spied a slight boil of water behind it. So I dropped my fly in the area, a couple of strips and wham!
Long short short (my first video alone of the fight is 22 minutes long) the nasty beggar used the current to his advantage and had me following him about 200m then I walked him 200m back then I followed him 100m out again and had to walk him back. Keeping fit while fishing!
When I finally landed him he only measured only 68cm !!!!
I’d hate to think what would have happened if he was any bigger …
And a video of the release (sorry for freeware logos!)
On the way back – maybe we’ll meet again …
This was also the first outing for my complete new outfit, a Nemesis 7wt with a Sage 2280 fly reel. It is a sweet combo. And the fly was one I tied the night before to be visible in the slightly turbid water of the estuary.
The reel had a grueling first test run, getting soaked in saltwater and I had it cranked up during most of the fight. The drag is smooth and the setting knob is large and graduated clearly.
And the next outing for the combo will be for trout in the Rangitikei River, for which I’m sure it will be more than adequate!
It’s been a while since my friend Alan Bulmer and I had been fishing so we met up at a favourite location around dawn on Saturday morning. The wind speed was zero – as was the visibility of the horizon at times. In winter the metabolic rate of the fish slows down and they tend to feed in concentrated bursts rather than continually on the prowl. Given the cool temperature, poor visibility and lack of visible baitfish this did not pan out to be a busy day for fishy predators or fishermen.
But then that’s why you bring a camera along the catch images that people tucked up in bed would not get the experience.
No problems with water clarity – superb!
From a photographic perspective, the mist served as a wonderfully diffuse background to isolate the subject … even if they were spinning sometimes rather than fly tossing. The falling tide exposing more and more interesting structure.
But then the fly rod’s call reasserted itself to make for a truely contemplative composition …
On the final walk back, another fisherman was waiting patiently for his opportunity to make a catch.
“Fly Casting with Rio” would be more accurate but more wordy and less dramatic. And this fishing trip had several elements of the unusual and dramatic.
First of all – a half day off work on the first day of calm, clear weather after weeks of rain and stormy gusting. Then there was a new (second hand) car to give a decent run, additionally a few hours hours out with the wee wifey and the core purpose, as the title suggests, time to point my Vapen Red and Rio line combo at some real fishing water.
As with all good adventures we headed due west, out towards Manukau Heads. While the weather back around Henderson was clear, crisp blue sky once past Titirangi there was a surprising bank of mist,considering it was noon, occluding the distant landscape.
We arrived at the recommended spot to find out it was much more civilized than the impression given by satellite photographs on the internet. A short walk to a very attractive beach – with one fisherman packing up and four others with lines in the water about 300-400 meters away.
Obviously this was a fishy spot.
Reality pointed out that I had made a couple of basic mistakes in the rush to get onto the water: no line stripping tray and no boots/waders. However I was not to be easily disappointed or deterred – the water was indeed chilly for wet wading but an opportunity was not be wasted. My wife was aghast – she hasn’t actually been out fishing with me for probably over a decade so hasn’t witnessed the inconvenient and slightly bizarre things that fisherman do in the pursuit of fish. But this was about the fishing, and the casting in particular, so I managed to conscript her photographic services to record my casting prowess with the new outfit.
The lift off … though it would double as a good “trout strike”
The backcast – looking quite good I think
Worth a second look
Then outward bound with the forward cast …ha ha
Thar she goes …
I worked along the beach and back again. The water was cold, the waves kept tangling the shooting line around my shoes, but I was fishing, so it was all good. The bait fisher got a decent kahawai. For a few minutes I saw some interesting swirls in the breaker line but there was no response to my offerings.
This secluded place is a slice of swoffer heaven – nice sandy beach, shelving down a a moderate angle into clear water deep enough to be patrolled by anything wandering in from the nearby harbour mouth. Nice rocky ledges that give access and opportunity at low tide. All this in classic Kiwi bush surroundings with the calls of Tui to punctuate the tranquility as your line rustles through the rod rings onto the Manukau waters.