The fishing is certainly going well for me lately. My mate Gary and his partner Nadia came to the Barrier for a weeks visit, and unfortunately the weather has been quite bad on the Tryphena side. We’ve been to the hot pools on Thursday, yesterday we hung out a bit on Benisland and the plan for today was to catch a few fish off the rocks.
Today was the first day since their arrival that Tryphena harbor was actually calm, no swell, no gusts and in-spite them staying on their yacht, The Spirit of Breaker Bay, in Puriri Bay, I decided to pick them up early in the morning and to go to the East Coast to fish off the rocks. When it comes to fishing I always say, you gotta make a decision and stick to your guns. So, there I was, announcing my arrival in Puriri Bay via Radio at 0645. We parked the car at Medland’s Beach around half an hour later. I was pretty eager to get fishing as soon as possible, low tide was around 0930 and the forecast mentioned half a meter of easterly swell, and increasing over the day. This gave us only a couple of hours fishing and although it was a beautiful morning and I don’t like hurrying people, Gary and I decided to walk rather quickly to the spot and let Nadia catch up to us later. You know, when I take people fishing, I might be a bit difficult, but it is a bad, bad feeling when you drag people over the rocks to remote spots and come back empty handed. I always think of what I could have done differently. The way I see it is that when you go fishing, you should go out there believing in catching fish and making catching fish a priority. Instead of walking slowly, having breaks, taking pictures and all that, I often insist on rather concentrating on the fishing. Anyway, I got my way and Gary and I had baits in the water by 0730 (see Google Map for our location).
Gary was busy landing fish while I still hadn’t felt a bite. He caught various fish today, a little wrasse, two eels, a couple of hiwi hiwi. I ended up landing two leather jackets and it seemed that there were no snapper around at all. 2 hours fishing, the swell had picked up by now, we had 15 knots of side on wind, it was cold and there was no sign of any solid bite. Nadia had caught up to us and I sent her to find some kina. It didn’t take her long and she was waving back to us; apparently she had spotted an octopus. Well, since we had only a little bag of squid as bait, both of us rushed to Nadia to see what was going on. By the time I flicked the knife, Gary already grabbed the head of the octopus and secured it. Good on him for reacting fast!
I don’t have a picture of the octopus, the tentacles were around 50 cm and it took a while to immobilize it. We kept on fishing and unknown to Gary, I started hoping and praying. ‘Come on snapper, come on.’ All to no avail, I could see that both Gary and Nadia were thinking of heading back and I couldn’t blame them at all. Thanks to Gary, who caught a tiny kahawai, there was still hope. I thought, at least cast the head out far, start packing up and who knows, there might be something lurking far out there. Oh did I mention that I lost a better sized fish? Yeah, I had a good fish on and was very sure that I had her in the bag, but just before you could see any color it spat the hook, or better I ripped the hook out of her mouth. It’s never a good feeling to lose a fish, but it is worse, when you don’t get a chance to see what you had hooked and especially when the fishing is slow.
There I was, holding onto my last hope, on the kahawai head, and to my surprise the reel was screaming line out, a lot of line. I flicked the reel into drag mode and still, something was taking a lot of line. I cranked the drag up by half a turn and tried my best to stop whatever was on the end of the line. The funny thing was that I immediately thought that it was a shark or a big ray and that I wouldn’t be able to stop it. Thus, I fought it hard and after a few moments I had turned the fish’s head. The typical snapper fight. After 4-5 minutes I could see the color and asked Gary to stop fishing and giving me a hand. Fortunately, she was hooked well in the mouth but we had no gaff and Gary didn’t make the move down the rocks to grab the leader, thus I was slightly uncertain of what to do. I didn’t want to ping the line on the sharp rocks and kept waiting for a swell to pick the fish up onto the rocks. Finally, it all happened and I had the leader in the hand and the fish away from the water. Woohooo, another good snapper off the rocks.
Such is fishing off the rocks. You gotta be on guard at all times, stick to your guns, never lose faith and remember, the best fish are usually lost right in front of you when you want to get them onto the rocks. Therefore, it pays to stay calm and it pays to have a friend – the gaff man – around to assist in landing the fish. Thanks Gary, you provided the kahawai head and you did exactly what I had asked you when we were landing her!
I scaled and cleaned the fish properly and since we are invited to a party tonight, we dropped her off at the hosts home as our contribution to the food. I’m stoked, the signs weren’t good, I was actually thinking we’ll be showing up empty handed to the party and I’d be only left with the story of the fish that got away, but such is fishing!