We had a few interesting and at times exhausting fishing sessions last week, and just a few days before my mate Paul had to leave to the main land, conditions were not too bad to take him to spot at the Cape. Being a seasoned kingfish angler who has extensively fished the coastlines of the tip of the Coromandel Peninsular, Paul had always fantasized about a land-based fishing adventure from Cape Barrier on Great Barrier Island, looking at the Coromandel instead of the other way round. It would be our last fishing adventure for 2013 and the start of it was undoubtedly quite interesting.
We had just arrived at the ledge and were unpacking our gear – it was about 0730 – when we spotted a pod of 6-9 dolphins swimming past. They were less than 10 meters away and I had a good look at one of them when it leaped through the surface.
There was instant action when the burley hit the water, dozens of very small snapper together with blue maomao came to the surface and fed actively on the bits and pieces that came off the fish attracting sausage. A swell was hitting the coast from the east and we were watchful albeit it damped off strongly when it hit the initial rocks and didn’t really affect the ledge we were standing on.
We were both watching the water and were straylining for kahawai when we observed a rat kingi as he checked the burley trail and the ball of small fish surrounding it. It didn’t take long and Paul had a 30 cm long kahawai swimming under a balloon in the current line. Unfortunately, the swell rose as the high tide mark was getting closer which didn’t make live baiting easy. There was no more sign of the kingi, but I was hooking into snapper. And there were a lot of snapper out there.
While Paul was fishing the live-bait far into the swell, that being the only spot he could fish in these conditions, and swearing at it, and just in general, I spotted a small kahawai, which I hooked and landed quickly. Since Paul was having enough problems with his live-bait, I wasn’t too keen to rig another one up and happily gave it to him. He was very elated: ” Oooh, Beni, this is going to be eaten within 10 minutes…”
5 hours later and still no sign of kingfish. But I had landed one decent and one good snapper. Conditions became smoother as the low tide approached, smooth enough that Paul could fish the live bait close to the ledge and closer to where I was standing. After hooking into a small snapper, which I was reeling in, I observed a greenish shadow coming from the deep and following the tiny snapper on the end of my line. “Kingi, there’s a kingi here mate,” I lifted the snapper out of the water and cast it out again close to Paul’s live bait.
The kingi followed the small snapper and almost bit it into the tail when I retrieved my line, but it only had a glimpse at the live-baited kahawai. I repeated what I was doing for a forth time, every time raising the kingfish from the deep water, and this time, Paul cast a popper at it. The kingi followed the snapper, then saw the popper and followed it calmly, it acted a bit uninterested but suddenly snapped at it right by the rocks.
It got hooked and swam straight down and to the right, all the action happening within 2 meters from the rocks. It managed to swim through the foul and get the line snagged. Paul wasn’t happy, and I was a bit surprised that it was over so quickly and suddenly. I had the camera in my hand, ready to film the fight, being quite sure that we would land this fish.
Well, it got away and Paul lost his popper…
Another hour had passed and I was starting to think of packing in and going home. Kingfishing is very exciting and challenging but it can be very frustrating. Most of the times you are either trying to land a bait fish or you have one out and are waiting for a strike. You can fish and wait for hours but lose a fish within seconds. And worst of all, most of the time you are busy keeping the live-bait in the strike area and keeping it away from kelp and other obstacles close in.
I had yet another small snapper at the end of the line and was about to suggest to pack it in, when another shadow emerged from the deep water. Suddenly, lots of excitement, the kingi looked slightly bigger and was eager for something. I threw the snapper out again and retrieved it sideways towards Paul’s live-bait. The kingi followed the snapper right up to the surface, and when it spotted the kahwai, and that it was in trouble, it was all on. It circled underneath the kahwai, then snapped at it, attacking it head-on.
There was a lot of water splashing, the kahawai turned really pale, desperately trying to avoid being eaten. What a great sight, where is the camera?
I turned around with the camera on, Paul was on the fish, again very close to the rocks, and exerting a lot of drag.
It wasn’t a big kingfish (measured 90 cm), but these fish are very worthy fighters on the line, who take any advantage to wrap your line through heavy kelp or swim around or underneath a rocky obstacle, thus breaking you off. Gaffing it proved another challenge with the water line being 3-4 meters under the ledge. We managed to ‘guide’ it to the end of he ledge where I could walk further down to the water, gaffing the fish at the very first opportunity straight into the gill plate.
Mission accomplished, we successfully fished the Cape. Landed three snapper and a kingi from the rocks. Two snapper were donated to a local at the cape, half the kingi and the other snapper went to my neighbor.