'Kiwi Angler' - Auckland by Cecil Alexander

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My buddy Don Orr and I have promised each other that the next time the weather permitted we would wag work and make a run for the Manukau bar in order to get a shot at some yellowfin or possibly even a marlin. The forecast was right and we made our plans. On the way home from work that evening Don called to say that he wouldn't be able to make it as he had been invited on another trip that he couldn't miss. My disappointment must have been abundantly clear as he called back a few minutes later to let me know that he had secured me a spot and that I should be in Mechanics Bay at 9am sharp. Oh, and what a day we were to have!

Local IT consultant Warren Hurst organizes an annual foray for his clients that is second to none. This annual trip alone should make it worth doing business with Warren. North Shore Helicopters, in their stealthy BK-117 ten-seater chopper, picked us up on the harbour at the edge of Auckland. This thing is really the limousine of the sky. It's even black in colour. We boarded and found that there was a headset equipped with a microphone for each of us. Previous trip attendees were clearly buzzing and enjoyed jovial conversation as the chopper lifted off of the pad and slipped out over Auckland harbour. As we rounded the corner and headed up the Rangitoto Channel, I contemplated how truly lucky we are to live in New Zealand. The view of the Gulf and all of its marinas was fantastic.

An all-too-short 15 minutes later we set down gently on the grass at Gulf Harbour marina on the end of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula. Grant Layton, the pilot, unloaded our gear and provisions while we admired the vessels moored there. My only complaint would be that we had to walk at least 30 seconds to get to the boat. Hey, that is a long time with a couple of cases of beer under your arm.

Not knowing what to expect in the way of rods, reels and terminal tackle, which was to be supplied by the charter, I brought my own. I needn't have bothered. As we boarded the Kiwi Angler and introduced ourselves to Skipper Rex Smith and crew Nigel, I looked around. The Kiwi Angler is one boat that, when the sign says all bait and gear supplied, you can count on nothing but quality. Every rod and reel looked new. I later found out that Rex maintains a strict service schedule on his reels which includes replacing plates and gear covers which accounts for their near new look.

We had a great gang made up of people from several large New Zealand corporates. Most of them knew each other from prior functions and those of us who were new quickly made each other's acquaintance as Rex steered us out of the marina. The Kiwi Angler quickly got to her 20-knot cruising speed and the trip to Little Barrier took less than an hour and a half. Some of the crew wasted no time cracking into a barley pop (beer) while others settled for coffee.

Rex parked us on Horn Rock and before long everyone was into school snapper. After an hour we made a move in an attempt to find some larger fish. The snapper didn't grow, but several kingfish appeared in the berley trail. I had an unfortunate incident with a small one that we won't talk about. One of the guys did manage one worth keeping. Many snapper were landed, but none of them of a size acceptable to Rex. During the pre-departure briefing, he had said that we would be looking for quality not quantity today. Some of the fellas started giving him a hard time about that statement. Bad move, he grabbed a rod, slid a pilchard overboard and was immediately tangling with a 6-kilo fish. The heckling quickly abated.

We gave the spot another 30 minutes then decided to move in-close to the Island and prepare lunch. There was a barbecue and I was looking forward to a steak. I got my light tackle into the water and was shortly rewarded with a gentle pick up followed by a good run. I set the hook and realized that my gear was out gunned. They were just serving lunch as the fish took me up the side of the boat with the 'skewz me, pardon me' bit as I made my way past the other anglers. The fight went on for some time and speculation on the species ranged from kingfish to big snapper. Soon a crowd gathered and I began to get nervous about losing the fish in front of so many on-lookers. Fortune was with me and Rex netted a fine six-kilo trevally just as they put the lunch dishes away. I missed lunch, but did get the pleasure of watching the looks of disbelief as I slid it back over the side and shook hands with Rex.

That was the beginning of what turned into a very big session of trevally fishing. Everyone caught trevors ranging from three to six kilograms. The snapper never did turn on but the crew of the Kiwi Angler made the best of it and ensured that we all caught some great fighting fish anyway. I was impressed with the layout of the boat. She can easily fish 14 anglers and is set-up very well. Rex kept a few of us riveted in conversation during the trip back to the marina. He has spent some time fishing Australia and his entire life in New Zealand waters. He has many tales to tell and is a very knowledgeable fisherman. I will be going out with him again.

We arrived back at the marina just minutes prior to the helicopter and had time for a few pictures and some quick thank-yous and good-byes. The pilot must have anticipated that we would be weary from our hard day on the water because he put her down close enough to cut the walk to 20 seconds. If you are planning a trip or want a novel way to entertain your customers or suppliers, I suggest that you give North Shore Helicopters and Kiwi Angler some consideration. Oh, and to Warren Hurst who organized the event, thanks from everyone. We had a great day!

Transportation: North Shore Helicopters: Richard Garard or Larry Bennett 0-9-426-8287.

Fishing Charter: The Serious Fishing Company Ltd. (Kiwi Angler) Rex & Lynette Smith 025 996 472 or 0-9-424-0588.

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