Boulder, Bender, Bushpig and I spent but a few days at Waihau Bay about this time last year. This was a trailer boat smash and grab which grabbed us nothing piscatorial but I was enchanted by the place. I said to Boulder that I was of the opinion that we must return and do it on a more serious basis. fast forward to August last year. Tagit, Boulder and Dead Ant are invited around to Obald Acres for a soiree of food and planning. Tagit the boat, as opposed to the Bloke (well, as well as the boat actually) will go to Waihau in February 2010.
Two weeks ago the Warwick 43 was on the hard at Pier 21 and I was invited to spend Anniversary Day in the lazarette imbibing diesel and removing my skin with bilge degreaser. Yum, yum. The Weasel chose to have a cardiac arrest on this fitting out day. Dead Ant failed with cardioversion and so off he went to the doctor. This meant Boulder would have to bring Pop Weasel. Would the geriatric gent be up to the task? Anyway, all haul work done and the boat is back on the water ready for the off.
Tagit arrives at Obald Acres at 0710 as arranged and we are off to Z Pier. The gamefishing machine looks like the garage from hell with no saloon floor, tools everywhere and a couple of refrigeration engineers in the noisy downstairs goey roundy department. We are going to leave at lunchtime in this? Obald is told to go abseiling off the flybridge roof with only RainX as a safety net and we await the arrival of Boulder, Moggy and the provisions. Noon sees the advent of two trucks and two cars. Truck one contains eighty wides, rods and jigs; these are measured in hundreds of kilograms. This is Boulder's truck. Truck two contains garlic; this is measured in hundreds of kilograms and is Moggy's truck. The cars contain the supervisors of the trucks. Simple. The Boss arrives after purchasing another couple of Bayliss Boatworks 60s for the Dreamboat fleet, the refrigeration engineers are evicted, the floor restored to the saloon and it is off to the fuel bowser. We buy lots of diesel: lots and lots. Fill the boat tanks (three) a 220 litre bladder and 20 litre jerry cans for Africa. At about 1500 we are off; destination East Cape. Tagit driving, Boulder counting fishing tackle, Obald Weaseling and Moggy peeling garlic. First night anchored in Home Bay (I think) in the Mercs next to Michael Hill the Jeweler/golfer/angler's ship. Evening spent assembling five 80 wides on bent butt rods, knitting doubles and choosing the run-on team for the morning. And still Moggy peels garlic.
We have to be at White Island this evening. However for fuel and angling reasons we go everywhere at trolling speed. Starting line up is: SC black and purple Zucker 5.5, LC Hooker All American, SR Pakula Lumo Sprocket, LR Legend Enki Poo Brown and Shotgun (oh dear) Legend Chromed Brass Unicorn blue/silver. All single hook stiff rigs with the biggest hook being a 9/0. 6m south of the Hook in 130m we are on on the bloody shottie and Mogy is order out of the garlic factory and into the chair. A small (70ish) stripey is close in short order. He is obviously coming to the surface not thirty feet from the boat and none of us do anything about it. A jump with the leader almost, but not quite, in Boulder's grasp. The line is now slack when fishy shakes his head and it is all in the air; none of it in the water. This is going to end in tears and it duly does. Should have had this fish. More attention to detail (as always) from everyone of us required. No more strikes today and we get to White Island on dusk. Good anchorage selected by the skipper (one of his many strong suits, this) and post pork knuckles the evening fun begins. Tagit spends the time netting flying fish (relatively easy game) and Moggy fishes for things using garlic as bait. He tries to catch kingies with flying fish as bait and hooks a bronzie. Thinks it might be a good idea to get his hook back (which it wasn't) and whilst getting soaked doing this gets head butted square in the middle of the chest by yet another flying fish. Much amusement for those not already asleep (i.e. me)
White Island to Waihau Bay. My first act of muppetry comes to light. I have a few vices, very few I would like to think. ONe is that when I eat stone fruit I eat the lot. This matters not a jot on shore. This is not the case when marine toilets are involved. The tell tale rattle in the macerator department meant not my last trip to retrieve cherry and plum stones. And speaking of muppetry the confusion over port and starboard doesn't count, OK?
Relatively quiet day on the fishing front. We are in big fish land now so we had better act accordingly. Z 5.5 retired to the bench and a blue/silver over black/purple Legend Andromeda goes to SC, the All American to LR, the Enki benched and a Legend Piper (white head, black nose, no eyes prototype) skirted purple/white over black purple goes to LC. We get a knockdown on the Sprocket just when we get to about 300m off Orete Point. Didn't see it but consensus was (on the basis of very little evidence ) that this was a chucker. Also had a strike on the Piper that was probably a stripey. Anchor in Waihau Bay for the first time and had garlic for tea.
First full day at Wiahau Bay. Eric's 0915 sched reveals probably thirty boats out on the water and we are the only non trailer boat around. However three quarters of an hour before '...and you'll catch me on the next one' we had already dropped our first marlin of the day. Beeeeg fish 300m of Runaway on the All American on LR. Wearing a single hook for the last time in the week (as if that made a difference - well it might, I suppose) on for a minute and Moggy lets it go so he can carry on peeling garlic. Boulder calls it for a Blue but he was wrong. Tagit and your correspondent called it a large stripey and they are right. At 1330 the All American now sporting two hooks produces again and this time Moggy gets fed up with dropping fish and we have a short billed spearfish going burko in the cockpit after Tagit pissed it off by whacking it on the noggin with the back of a gaff; well that would get up your nose, whatever its length, wouldn't it? This fish goes 23.5kg. Not bad. Little bits made very yummy, if a little unusual (very firm), fish nibbles and the fillets have an appointment with Mr Bradley.
First contact on Channel 06 with Rick Pollock and he agrees to deliver 2 litres of milk to Lottin Point the next morning.
Ranfurly day. Weather slated for primo to the max and it is decided we will shadow Pusuit for the first trip to the Ranfurly Banks for three of us and the four hundred and twenty third for the fourth, I will confess to a warm glow of anticipation tinged with a little apprehension on the two and a half hour trip from Lottin; after all, this place eats people. The sides are every bit a steep as advertised with the sort of sea that goes with the topography; confused enough in five knots variable. The GPS says 178º 56E; hell, we are almost fishing yesterday.
Only a couple of hours on the Banks and where to go. To a novice it didn't really seem to matter; there is sign of fish absolutely everywhere. This is far and away the fishiest place I have ever been. Boulder is in his element. Wiggy whack the go for a while on top the mountain. Moggy and Boulder show off by catching 20 kilo plus kingfish almost at will.
Tagit chips in with a couple in the 8-10kg range and beginner Obie mops up the mice, rats and occasional possum. I kid you not, twenty one kingies under eight kilos in a couple of hours. More Channel 06 talk with the milkman and we are off to Jurassic Park.
Boulder takes sympathy with your scribe and hands me the Bitch teamed up with a big chunk of American aluminium and miles of serious looking braid. A (legal sized, of course) live trevally on a f. off circle hook above a sash weight and off we go into the depths. I will confess being a bit unprepared for the next bit. Strike drag for my stand up fishing is 12kg if I've eaten my Weetbix like a good boy. Boulder was a bit heavy handed when he set the drags on the lump of aluminium, surely? So we'll fisha sensible drag a tad off Boulders silly strike position. Wrong. A proper kingfish has me in the rocks in seconds. Bust off and we'll try again. Another (legal sized, of course) trevally on 14/0 recurve hooks, a couple of harden up tough pills, Boulder's strike drag and hold on.
An estimated 25kg kingfish is booted out of the transom door ten minutes later. Quite good fun - but don't tell any one.
Time marches on and we must make tracks. Wind coming up a bit. Troll off the peak along the North West ridge and not long before we have a solid stripey double on; Lumo sprocket on SR which is given to Moggy to drop so he can return to peeling garlic and All American on LR for Boulder which he has no trouble bringing to the boat three times. Your scribe has the gloves on and is in very unfamiliar territory. First time to the boat I never look like getting a good hold of the leader and fishy is off. Second attempt and i get a good enough wrap free grasp to get the tag in but the lack of wraps has the inevitable conclusion that fishy is off on its travels again. Tagit asks if I would like him to leader the fish. Bloody oath I would. I need my hands for other things (like earning a living) and I don't want them all bruised playing with stupid fish. Third time lucky (or more like he was being leadered properly and not wimpily) and a now quite bronzed fish easily has his hooks removed.
Called for 90kg. About four or five minutes being swum by the boat on the snooter sees him get his lilac and blue back nicely and he swims away strongly.
Snooter is a good thing. Get one.
Quite a bit more wind now and we still have to come down the mountan. Not nice and this is followed by a fairly uncomfortable trip back to anchor in Hicks Bay. Three of us are too knackered to eat and nibble on a few offcuts of hapuku (I din't mention that, didI? Well it didn't drop from the sky) but Moggy makes himself a garlic sandwich.
Only really rough day of the week and we bounce around back to Waihau Bay for an easily scored 0-0-0. Only strike free day of the trip. Tagit anchors with his usual skill in the only ten square metres of lee in the Bay and we dine on chicken flavoured garlic before Moggy puts the Shimano Hiab range of rods through its paces. Place butt of rod in left hand, place 5kg kingfish on short piece of line running through tip guide and lift. You can get the fish's eyes 5cm from the reel. Very impressive and Shimano are missing a marketing trick here.
Weather back to normal and we get a full twelve hours trolling in doing the 'Orete-Hook-Backbone' circuit. 1330, 400m off Orete and its funtime. Good visual of a marlin swimming behind the Andromeda at SC. A nudge, a wee pull (5 metres) of line and nothing. I drop the lure back nowhere near enough and he's gone. Bugger. But all is not lost. Lumo Sprocket is knocked out of SR. Is that It? No Bloody shotgun is of again......and then stops. I decide to get serious about dropping the lure back this time and give fish heaps. So much so that the dacron backing is off the reel by the time I sit down in the play chair. Catching a 75kg stripey from a chair on 37kg with a good team around you is not difficult nad in short ordered Tagit had delivered the transom of the boat to the fish, Moggy had breathed garlic down my neck whilst accurately pointing the chair at the line and Boulder had done the nasty horrible leadering bit (and hurt his hand) Tag in, hooks out, game over.
Back to Waihau for the last night; anchored in the river. Roast pork tonight and as the skipper had hid the damned garlic it was wonderful. Moggy sulked.
It is home time and the Bay of Plenty is a big place. A 0510 start with Tauranga and all its lovely diesel as the destination. Just past Orete and it is still dark when I start to put the lures out for the day. Just get Lumo Sprocket into his armchair at SR and some bugger tips him out. As I'm the only one on deck (Tagit driving, Boulder in the dunny and Moggy asleep) I get the enormous pleasure of winding a foul hooked 50kg mako to the boat in the dark. Smashing - and I get to have to make up a new hook rig before breakfast. 0-0-0 for the rest of the day as we confirm that the Bay of PLenty is very big.
It is also empty on the tuna front. We reckon we covered close to 1000nm over the nine days a vast majority of it in excellent water trolling skippy type lures. Two skippies and one albie all week. NOt good. Two decent big eye were caught at Waihau when we were there but they were very much the exception and who remembers yellowfin?
Into Tauranga Bridge Marina (why would you put a marine where there is that much current?)and 550 lirtres of fuel just to get us home. An onshore shower nad the cahce to eat some plum stones. More roast pork sans garlic and we are almost done.
Fish being caught from 50m (yeah right) to 150 all the way from Mayor to the Mercs. Hot between the Aldies and the Mercs. Oh well play the game. Time for a bit of alure change. The Lumo Sprocket has been under performing for eight days and he gets to stand in the naughty corner. Green and gold Merlin, thank you very much. Evil Legend Wowie at SC - very nice (I was a little surprise by this. Skipper designs a blue/silver/yellow lateral line over pink/gpld Legend black headed small Rasputin for shotgun and so, as he is the boss's choice, he gets a swim. Despite all this marlin candy we aren't going to get a hit in 74 metres of green murky crap south west of Mayor are we? Well yes we are. All American now at LR again (boring) gets hit. defnite stripey which jumps very early (like twenty seconds early) and is gone. And that's our lot. Wind slated for NW 25knots in the afternoon and they were right. Irritating but not overtly unpleasant trip through confused occasionally short seas to get us to New CHums bay hard on Boulderville. Last comfy garlic free nught.
Due to vagaries of the Lunar calendar it is decided to back in AUckland as near lunchtime as we can make it. Despite the remnants of yesterday's wind the Colville Channel treats us kindly. We negotiate fifty fold more boats off Rangi than we have seen all week and we are safely tied up a Z Pier on Schedule.
This was the best fishing trip I have I done, bar none. Excellent company, as always, the key. Fishing waters we were fairly confident would produce helps, of course, but what marks this trip out was the added element of adventure. Uncharted waters.; well they were for me. Anchoring in Hicks Bay, the Ranfurly Banks, anchoring up to an active volcano. No bloody cellphones
Wouldn't be dead for quids.