'Rhumbo' - Auckland

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Rowan had been threatening to take me out for some time — but we’re both very busy people. After a couple of false starts we finally got it together. He warned me that it would just be a local trip and that we were unlikely to get anything over 5 or 6kg. Geez! Half that size will do me Rowan!

Coming with us on the trip was an Asian gentleman known to us only as ‘Patrick’, and who’d been with Rowan before. (Despite owning a rod and reel collectively valued at around $100, he later proved a patient and enthusiastic angler).

We didn’t hang around for long. Rowan is a particularly successful charter skipper and goes out most days as a result. With a skill born of constant practice, the boat was reversed down the Westhaven ramp, launched and tied up to the wharf within two minutes. Gear and food was loaded and Rhumbo’s nose pointed in the direction of the Noisies — a favourite haunt for both of us.

Cruising at 24 knots, it didn’t take long to reach our destination but we succeeded in arriving an hour before low tide. Conditions like these prevent berley from distributing as effectively and make the bigger fish less likely to feed. The little ones aren’t affected as much, however. We dropped around a dozen or more of these juveniles back into the water before deciding to try somewhere else — despite knowing that the fishing could well pick up with a strengthening tide.

Our next spot, close to the Haystack, provided similar results but we took the opportunity to load up on yellowtail mackerel livebaits; they could well come in handy. It was now time to charge over to Whangaparaoa. It was a good decision by Rowan. We anchored up off the tip and started catching fish; not large ones but they were steady, reaching 2.5kg in weight.

What made the place particularly memorable however, was the number of john dory. The first livebait dropped down by Rowan was pounced on in only a minute or two, the 1.5kg johnnie unable to resist the wriggling morsel. Ditto the next bait. And the next — but this time Patrick took the strike and ended up boating a superb dory of over 2.5kg. Very happy!

We caught more and the day went quickly by. Throughout the day I was constantly reminded why Rowan does so well. He’s totally professional, very competent in everything he does and has an easy-going temperament. Giving personal service is very important to him and my experiences with him bore that out.

After all these days of catching snapper, kingfish, trevally and kahawai, you’d think he’d get stale, but that’s certainly not the case. One of his most memorable days was when he took a group of seven guys out who’d been given vouchers by their wives and girlfriends. Most were in the throes of learning the fishing ropes — but that didn’t matter. Rowan first got them their limit of snapper to 5kg at Tiritiri, then zapped over to Anchorite Rock in hope of a kingfish. Dream stuff again. They all ended up with two kingfish each, averaging 15kg in weight.

Rowan knows the Gulf waters like the back of his hand. He took me to places I never knew existed; running his sounder over drop-offs, areas of foul and worm beds, one after another, checking for numbers of fish.

Although he predominantly fishes the East Coast, he likes the West Coast as well, and is looking forward to going there this season in search of the 'Big Ones'. The boat’s certainly capable. Eight metres of tinnie is a lot of trailerable boat and it handles the chop well, being relatively soft riding due to its Circa design. The turbo Volvo motor gives enough grunt to travel at speeds up to 33 knots, but Rowan usually travels at a more sedate 24 knots.

A full walk-around deck gives plenty of space to anglers, whether just spreading out and line fishing for snapper or running around after a kingfish, tuna or marlin ‘surprise’. This also means that up to eight anglers can effectively fish around the boat without undue tangling, but five or six is better — particularly when fishing out at the Barrier.

Rowan carries both sport and gamefishing tackle on board — high quality and mostly coming from the Shimano stable, but you’re welcome to bring our own. There are 15 rod holders to put them all into and there’s ice for all caught fish.

There are some creature comforts, too. A marine stove is there for food and hot drinks, and inside the cabin is an enclosed loo.

Rowan has a very nice little operation. Without doubt he would be in the top three as far as Auckland-based charters are concerned and I look forward to fishing with him again in the future.


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