What does a charter skipper do on his days off? Go fishing of course!

A Day off to Catch Marlin

After a fairly busy start to the year chasing down Northland Kingfish It was a relief to finally get to a diary page with a line through it. 

A couple of beers and a look at the SSTs and currents with local guru Stef, saw a plan hatched for Matt and I to finally get a good father/ son day of marlin fishing out of Whangaroa while Stef took his boat and crew to Ahipara for a Westie day. It was going to be interesting to compare results at the end of the day.

Well the beers had quite an effect on my ability to sleep and it was a leisurely 9.30am before we got ‘Reel Life’ to the ramp. Not really a problem as we had figured on a bite time of around 11am. Plenty of time to get some livies and get out to the good water. 

Imagine my surprise when I saw Stef’s trailer in the car park. He had decided that it just looked too good out east to leave it alone. Now imagine how hard I kicked myself when a phone call revealed that not only had he just dropped a fish but the boat next to him had just landed one off a double and another boat had dropped one beside him also. We had not only slept in but had stuffed up the bite time and missed it.

There followed the fastest bait catching session ever and a 40mph dash out to the area they were in. We set some lures in the hope of the new Honda raising our first fish of the season but were even more disappointed when the Maori radio informed us that the bite had gone off and the bait had dropped down. (More kicking myself while unsuccessfully trying to find a reason to blame Matt).

With the other boats heading off for bluenose fish it was temping to do the same, after all, a feed of fresh bluenose goes a long way towards making it a good day. I just had one more thing to do before we followed.

The area we were fishing was definitely ‘right’. Converging currents, temperature, colour and most importantly food. The fish weren’t coming up to the lures so it was simple. We had to get the hooks to them. In short time we had a lively Skippy bridled up and ready to do some work for us. We had marked a couple of fish on the sounder deep down so I was pleasantly surprised when the livey started to go down at pace with me madly stripping line to keep up with it. About 20 seconds and maybe 30m of line went out when a brief stop followed by a higher speed run signalled that our day was about to change. Another 10 seconds (always seems like a lifetime), drag up, wind and load. The comment to Matt was almost too casual “yep were on mate”. It took a further second or two to remember why I like other people on the rod, but too late now so may as well get the pain over with quickly.

Some spectacular surface action followed by a deep run saw me drenched in sweat in no time, I hoped the hook was well set because there was some serious pressure on the fish giving it no chance to get its head away, and in less than 15 minutes we had one very annoyed Stripey going stupid at the side of the boat. Undaunted, Matt got on it and took a good old beating while I had a closer look, figured it was worth keeping and tagged it with the curved pole. A quick clean up and with a bit of a struggle we dragged it over the rail and there it was, our first for 2014 and almost too easy. The bite time…11am.

A call was made to wander back in, planning to fight it out with a few kingies on the way. A dozen or so good scraps with shallow water kings and we were almost done, but not before swinging into Stevenson’s Island and having a beautiful cray dive to finish a mean day off.

Stef in the meantime was toughing it out, knowing that he would get another bite and badly wanting a fish for the day.

The call came in at 6pm, not only had he got his fish but it was a goodie, finally weighing up a bit shy of 150kg. A well-earned fish and a real cracker of a stripy to boot.

What a day, three local boats, all mates and all with fish for the day, it doesn’t get much better than that. You can probably imagine the clean-up session but that’s a whole different story. All I can say is there was a sizeable contribution made towards the brewery profits and it was well into Thursday before anybody saw their beds. 

Tomorrow the weather is easing and we will be back into chasing kingfish etc. No doubt there will be more Marlin for us before the season is over and they will all be different. This one, the first for the year is always memorable but even more so when just you and your son get to work as a team and come away with such a great result.

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