About a week ago I took Chris and his sons Max and Alex on a landbased fishing trip. We met up in Tryphena and headed to a fishing spot on the south-western part of the Island. Our plan was to walk around the coast to the headlands of a small bay and fish a few hours before and after low tide. The boys were fit and fast on the rocks, and we arrived on a ledge, looking toward the Coromandel Peninsular two hours before the low tide.
Conditions & Tide
The conditions were good, a cool, pleasant, northerly breeze, calm waters and we had the first bait in the water two hours before the low tide. The burley was deploying slowly and it didn’t take long for the first kahawai to arrive and be arrested. I was impressed to see how quickly the party found their individual casting spots and used the fishing gear effortlessly.
We started off with a 6/0 circle hook on about 80 cm of 50 lbs leader, tied to 30 lbs of main line. No sinkers. I use this rig very often, these hooks result usually in mouth-hooked fish and a single-hook setup without a sinker is significantly less likely to snag on the bottom or onto the kelp. This is pretty important when you are new to a spot; you don’t want to deal with gut-hooked, small fish and loosing your line when the first bigger fish of the day arrive.
The youngest of the group caught the first fish, a small kahawai. I decided to put it out under a balloon and had this live-bait swimming around for most of the day without any sign from his majesty. The fish were on the bite and there was constant actions about half an hour after deploying the burley. Some big kahwai showed up and munched away on the pieces of bait I was chucking out. The kahwai were great fun, giving everyone a bit of a scrap and keeping the anglers on their toes.
They are great eating, when you bleed them quickly and keep fresh. Very good eating raw, and superb if you manage to cook it just right.
Unfortunately, the snapper that were caught were small and around the 30 cm mark. We released all of them, they were so aggressive on the bite. I continued ground-baiting the area, we had baits close in and far out, pilchards, squid, fresh kahawai slabs and I even cut up a few kina. The snapper just did not get any bigger. Chris landed the only clearly “legal” snapper of the day.
The One That Got Away
At low tide, things slowed down and we took a break to have lunch. Whilst eating, sharing a couple stories and enjoying the beautiful day by the water, we watched the big rod that had a big, fresh kahawai head at the end of the line. We were burleying very hard and the current was strong. Surely, this would attract a bigger snapper.
No luck on the first kahawai head, so out went an even bigger, bloodier one. It was about 90 minutes into the incoming tide, the fishing had slowed down, the catch still being big kahawai and small snapper. We released many fish, enjoyed a visit from a big ray who checked out the commotion and our catch which was dangling in the ocean to stay fresh.
We were cleaning up when Max noticed the big rod bend over. It took only a few seconds to get organized, but long enough for the fish to get some line out. Chris picked the rod up, increased the drag and had a big fish on for a brief while. It kept pulling against solid drag, but, unfortunately, only for a very short time. It was well into the kelp and had got the line stuck. We waited, released the drag, changed the angle but just couldn’t feel the fish and the line remained snagged. After 10 minutes, I pulled hard and recovered everything but the bait.
Well, we will never know what took that bait, the great news is that it got away cleanly. I really enjoyed this fishing trip, it was a pleasure fishing with Chris and his boys. Rockfishing is great fun for the active family and once you know what to do, it’s just a matter of getting out there and being organised. There are always fish around…