years now I’ve been wanting to go on a Fishing Trip with Rick Pollock, one
of New Zealand’s best known and
has operated the Pursuit, a 45 foot Morgan
boat, and in this lovely lady he earned himself the reputation as the Top
Dog in fishing circles. The one small hold-back I had with going out with Rick
was that I knew the old Pursuit to be --er, somewhat snug in the sleeping and
living arrangements, and as I am not the smallest person you’d meet, this was a
bit of a worry.
wouldn’t believe how it can upset small guys when some lumbering behemoth such
as myself squishes them for the
umpteenth time due to a scarcity of maneuvering room in the cabin. So, when I found out Rick had
started building a new boat, I was immediately keen to see what the new boat would be like. The
new boat, still bearing the proud name of PURSUIT is a Nautic Designed 15 metre
vessel, built by Aztec Marine of Tauranga.
had been planning this boat for a long time now, since 1994 in fact, and I knew
well that there would be a huge rush to try this new Jewel in the Crown of New
Zealand’s Charter fleet. I was delighted then to find that only a couple of weeks after Rick
started operating the new “ Pursuit” He had an opening for a couple of days-- so
I booked it real quick!
Organizing six other similarly keen fisho’s was a cinch, as interest in this
new arrival has piqued the curiosity of many of the guys I go fishing with . The
crew assembled had all done other trips with me before, with the exception
of Mike Barlow of
assembled at the Whakatane wharf at
the due time, to see for the first time Ricks new PURSUIT. Our immediate impression was that we had
the wrong boat. This boat was flash. This boat was spic and span. Hell, this
boat gleamed ! For an assorted collection of scruffs such as ourselves to
clamber aboard this beauty seemed
to be almost sacrilege. The new Pursuit looks a million bucks, it truly
is an awesome creature.
was soon on hand though to quell our anxieties and to welcome us all aboard,
helping us to store away all the masses of gear and food and tackle that seven
guys create. As we stowed our kit away, we all took the opportunity to have a
good nosey around the lay-out of the Pursuit.
What a boat! Rick had obviously taken heed of the spacial requirements of the
fuller-figured (such as yours truly), and had this boat designed for Big Blokes.
The upshot of this is that the Pursuit
has room to burn inside and outside. Comfortable, wide seating abounds. I
think one of the best room-making moves was to keep the salon clear of any of
the controls- the only helm-station on the boat is in the Flying bridge, apart
from a small fighting-station in
the cockpit. Doing this created room in the salon for another bench seat and a
small Dinette with two fixed bar-stools-- very handy
a quick round of introductions, Rick fired up the motors, and off we headed for
the wide Blue Yonder. We had really lucked out on the weather, it was perfect,
with barely a ten knot breeze, and crossing the Whakatane Bar was an absolute
doddle. Our plan of attack was to head out to Whale Island for that night,
concentrating first up on catching a heap of live-baits at anchor, so that the
next morning we could head out to the Ten Mile Reef to get stuck into a bunch of
the smallish Kingies that haunt the area in the winter.
anchoring up, our immediate attention to the task of bait catching was diverted by the
snacks, nibbles and drinks provided by our pair of Deckies we had on this trip.
Rick had along two of his regular Deckies along on this trip, Gavin and
Quentin, so the service, which is
usually brilliant ,was now almost super-nova in its intensity-- barely a minute
went by where either of the guys were offering us hot-drinks, cold-drinks or
something- anything-- to eat. It was not long before I was sloshing and waddling
about the deck, replete with Milo and crackers.
just as well though that there was such an abundance of warm drinks, as the wind
was from the south, and although not too strong, it was really cold, and cut
through you like a knife. And people wonder why I like fishing the tropics in
bait-fish were also not keen on playing ball, with the small mackerel avoiding us in
droves. What with the cold and the lack of action, it was not long before the
guys started fading off to their bunks, until by mid-night there was only Paul
Alach, Rod Lang and myself left, tenaciously trying to eke out a supply of
livies for the next days fishing.
at about half-past, all of a sudden the fish arrived. It was as if some-one had
rung a dinner bell, as masses of the small mackerel pounced on our Sabikis with
a vengeance. In half an hour, we quadrupled the number of livies in our tank.
See, you can tell when the Gun Fisho’s are in charge, eh!
heaps of bait now on hand we decided it was time for us to hit the hay
morning, after a hearty breakfast and more copious quantities of hot drinks, we
headed out to the Ten Mile. Our plan here was to get stuck into the kingies, but
also to nail a few of those tackle-robbing vermin, the barracoutas. No good for
eating, as they tend to be full of Parasitic worms, the barracouta make
excellent baits for the deep-water fishes we were planning on hitting
of the guys were rigging up light live-bait rigs, which were basically a four- to six
ounce lead sinker, above a swivel, 80lb trace, and a small, say 4/0 or 5/0 ,
live-bait hook. These hooks were small enough to easily and harmlessly hook into
the little 125mm mackerel we had as baits, yet strong enough to land decent
sized small kingfish.
Personally, I opted for a 125gm Green/yellow Grim Reaper, with the treble
hook replaced by a single hook, as I wanted to get both couta and kings. By
using just a single hook on the jig, I don’t think I miss many more strikes than
anyone else, but it is much, much easier releasing fish (a treble hook can chew
up the side of fishes’ face, even if you intend to release it, you can still
mangle a fish with a treble) and on larger fish I think a single hook actually
holds better than a treble.
fishing in ‘couta infested waters, always use Black swivels and old, duller
sinkers, as couta snap at anything shiney in the water. I was using black
swivels, but still managed to get snipped off a couple of times by these
Fishing on the Pursuit was a breeze, the walk-around lay-out made following
the fish as they ran around under the boat (as kingfish tend to do) very easy.
The kingfish themselves were pretty enthusiastic to play with us- that is, on
the occasions when we could get our gear through the Razor Gang.
of the fish landed were of any decent size at all, by summertime standards not
one of these fish would have been kept, but for winter time on the Ten-Mile,
they were about average. Still, playing with these little scrappers on lighter
gear was a real buzz, the guys all having fun, with Terry Masters, who had never
caught a kingfish before, landing the best of the day, a plump
little 10 kilo fish that really gave him a mean work-out on some light
a couple of hours of playing with
these little fellas, Rick decided it was time for us to head on out to White
Island to go for some of the Deep water fish out wide. This was fine by us, as
we had kept enough kings for the Pot, had enough ‘couta for bait and wanted to
have a shot at a hapuku.
hapuku fishing this winter so far has been hard, so Rick reckoned on starting
out on some deep areas before heading in to the shallow spots. It’s funny how
all things can be relative, eh. When talking ‘Puka, “deep” means about
350metres, and “shallow” is a measly 250 metres! Not exactly Hauraki Gulf
first “drop zone” was into around 1000 feet of water, and once we had finally
got our baits to the bottom (the thought of having to wind all that line back in
as you are watching it whistle out with such ease is really quite daunting!) we
began the long, patient wait for something to happen.
the guys fishing with nylon, this can be a rather tedious process, as nylon has
a lot of elasticity, so once you let out more than 100 metres or so, the stretch
cancels out any sensations of fish-bites or hook-ups at all. There is a fairly
new sort of line on the market now though, commonly called ‘Spectra’, which has
very little (pretty much nil) stretch, and only about a third the thickness of
nylon. Fishing with this is enormously different.
spectra for deep fishing all the time, as I can feel every slight tap or nibble
on the line, even in these great depths, and it makes for much more interesting
fishing I can tell you!
least, it would have if there had been any fish biting there. There were stacks
of fish on the screen of the fish-finder, but they must’ve been bloomin’ well
fed ones, because they weren’t hungry at all! Still, a slow flow of fish started
to come aboard in the next few drifts, mostly small bluenose and gemfish, with
no big fish putting in an appearance there that day. After a few of these less
than electric drifts, Rick asked if we felt like mugging a bunch of tarakihi on
a shallower spot, and as all our r arms were aching from winding in three or
four hundred metres of line, we readily agreed.
way to our tarakihi drop, Rick
called over Steve Haddocks’ Zambucca, to pick up Gavin the Deckie, who had to
get back in for a Radio course the next morning. Watching these two boats ease
up to each other, without touching but only a mere 200mm apart is really
impressive and a great indication as to the skills of these two top skippers.
Once Gavin had left, the constant flow of hot drinks buttoned off a little, we
actually got down to about a cup per half hour.
went then, closer to White Island, as we went the water was flattening out all
the time- brilliant weather! This
time, Rick assured us, we’d get ourselves a good feed of tarakihi, so we changed
rigs from the big heavy hapuku gear- 250lb trace and big 12 to 14/0 tuna
circles, to 80lb trace with either small 10/0 tuna circle hooks or even 2/0 or
3/0 bait hooks for the smaller mouths of the tarakihi. Because I was using
Spectra, and was able to “set” the hooks when bitten, I opted to use 2/0 Mustad
down go the baits, and straight away, the rod-tip started thumping and bumping
to the beat of hungry tarakihi. Jon Junge, also using Spectra, also reported
heaps of activity, and before long we all had fish coming up. Nice tarakihi, all
of between 1.5-2 kgs, to drop on the decks, with Terry Masters again proving to be a demon
fish-killer. Three hooks down, three fish up!
well I wasn’t quite so prolific, though perhaps more fortunate. I put down my
little hooks and boomp! Something heavy latched on to it. Putting up quite a
struggle, this fish or fishes unknown really did not want to come up, but 24kg
line will tend to win most contests, so up it came. To our considerable surprise
and delight, it turned out to be a nice little 10kg Hapuku! It was actually a
lucky catch, as it had all but straightened the tiny 2/0 hook and gained its’
release, but luckily for us, the gaff got to it before the hook let
loading up with enough tarakihi to keep us all happy, Rick suggested heading
back out to the general area we had fished earlier-- the fish sign on the
sounder had been just too good for him to ignore, there had to be fish there! So
off we motored again, re-rigging our heavy gear, hoping that this time, as
evening approached, the fish might be a bit more co-operative.
were pleased to find that Rick was right, the fish were keener on dinner now,
and in just a few drifts, we hauled up a good number of bluenose, and Glyn
Acraman picked up a couple of nice little 5-6 kg bass, establishing himself as
the trips’ resident bass master. By the end of the last drift however, evening
had well and truly set in, so Rick fired up Pursuits' motors and headed us in
towards White Island, dropping anchor in Works Bay, while Quint busied himself
cooking up a huge spaghetti bolognaise for the guys.
White, the bait fish were way more prolific, and they were big fellas too. One
of my favourite parts of fishing these trips is chasing the big mackerel at
White. Sure, partly it is because they make dynamite baits for everything from
kingfish to hapuku, but mostly because they are suckers for a hook and fight
like pocket rockets on light gear.
Sabikis have to be pretty substantial to survive long at White Island, and in
the long run I have found it easier, and usually safer, to use just a single
small (say 7 gm) silver jig. Jon started the bait-ball rolling, as soon as the
anchor was down, he was out the back fishing for livies, and once we saw the
success he was having, the rest of us emerged from the luxury of the warm salon
to do battle with these wee beasties.
wasn’t long after the fish started to grow in numbers around the boat that the
first squid showed up-- and it was a monster of a squid too. The common arrow
squid you get at White Island is about 300mm long, but this one was easily twice
that size. If I could get that squid, man, I reckon I’d have one Monsta Puka
bait! So, off with the mackerel jig, on with a squid jig.
squid was not too impressed with my choice of lure though, obviously he wanted
something a little tastier than bland plastic, so with the addition of a little
bait to the lure, I again put temptation in the squids way. This time the lure
of bait was too much for this big
critter, and after a decent little tussle, we finally managed to ease a
little dip-net under it to lift it aboard. What a beauty!
Flushed with this Cephalopodian Success, I decided to dedicate myself to the
capture of more squidlies, so as to have enough for some fresh squid rings in
the morning. Meantime, the others concentrated on the task of acquiring a stock
of healthy live-baits for our next days fishing.
a few hours, the bait tank was filling up, and so a couple of the guys decided
to see if there were any kingies
around among the stacks of baitfish around the Pursuit. First, Glyn put out a
little Livie, but this was soon nailed by a prowling squid, not a king. Then
slaughtering mackerel for the next day noticed some rather larger fish circling
deeper in the water. Ah-ha! The kings were in town!
Alrighty then, off came the small jigs and last remaining sabikis, as Jon,
Terry and Glynn concentrated on nabbing a rat king or two. These fish were all
small- around five to 7.5 kg, (these little kingies are known as “rats” in White
Island parlance), but as the guys were using four to six kilo line, these small
scrappers still put up a serious struggle.
was the first to hook up, on a sweet little 4kg set-up, with the aggro little
kingie making his small Abu reel scream on it’s first run or two. (It’s more fun
to leave the ratchet on for a minute or two when fishing at night, as it really
bugs the guys trying to get some sleep below!). However, with no rocks nearby
for the fish to bust off on, Jon soon had the fish under control, and ten
minutes later we released unharmed the nice little 15lb (7 kg) king.
down, heaps more to go. From then on, every few minutes, either Jon, Glyn or
Terry would be in action, sometimes hooking up, sometimes not, and sometimes
catching squid on their livies! Although most of these kings were of legal size,
we all knew them to really be too small to keep, so we put them all back. After
the guys had made as big a dent as seemed reasonable in the local fish stocks,
we all decided enough was almost enough, and so retired for the
morning dawned calm and clear, and Rick had us motoring off to “the Horseshoe”
reef, a few miles north of White as soon as dawn broke. Quentin cooked up a
giant breakfast of steaks, acon and eggs, baked beans and sausages with heaps
of buttered toast (the cholesterol
special) served on the table while we cruised. Following the idea of always
towing a lure when moving, Paul Alach, Mike and Terry all cashed in on a passing
school of small albacore tuna, adding a very tasty bonus to the growing catch
time was a little limited, this being our last day, but it didn’t take long for
Rick to find us a nice patch of fish on the sounder, and this time I think he
must have pushed the “Hungry Fish” button on the fish-finder- because as soon as
we got our gear to the bottom, the thump-thump-thump of good heavy fish started
bouncing my rod-tip.
one, the rods started loading up, with Jon and I, using spectra lines, having
the best fun, and the hardest work, on the trip so far, as our fish repeatedly
ripped line off us.
was not too much doubt what these fish were, the strong fight well up off the
bottom being a fairly strong indication of some good Bluenose.
of us picked up good big bluenose on that drop, all except Glynn, who, affirming
himself as our bass catching specialist (the Bass-man, the deadly Bassassin!)
picked up a juicy prime eating
sized bass of around 15 kilos.
nice bunch of these prime table fish on the deck, we decided that it’d be a more
enjoyable use of our final few hours heading back in to the Ten Mile Reef to
play with the kingies there- especially as we now had some good big live baits,
which hopefully would deter the rat kings long enough for their big brothers to
have a go. Of course, if we were to pass some good looking hapuku holes, on the
way, we could always have a last shot for a decent puka, eh.
was that, passing the Volkner Rocks, Rick hit the anchors, did a quick spin
about and after a little sonar search, had us send down our last ‘puka drop for
the day. There we were, waiting for that famous last chance (come on, we all
really know that this happens nine times out of ten), when sure enough Terrys
rod loaded up again.
Obviously a good fish by the way the rod folded over so quickly, Terry was
soon straining away to lift this fish from the deeps, when- gone, Nothing, he’d
broken off. Oh dear, such a sad lad. Nevermind, more drama was unfolding at the
back of the boat, as Mike found he’d gone and snagged on the bottom. Unwilling
to break the line himself, Mike handed over the rod to Quentin to “fix”, and was
amazed when Quentin, after a couple of seconds, handed back this ‘snagged’ line,
with the instruction to land his own blinkin’ fish. Fish? Surely this was
snagged? Nope, it is a typical trap for new players in Deep-water fishing, that
a good fish will seem like the
anchor of the Titanic.
somewhat abashed, Mike began grinding away doggedly on his reel, still not 100%
sure of Quentins’ piscatorial prognosis, until even through hundreds of feet of
nylon, even he could feel a deep, sullen nodding. Ah-ha! Proof! With a squirt of
adrenaline Mikes head came up, the arm pumped faster, the whole world seemed a
better place-- this was the man with the biggest fish for the
the nice 25kg hapuku broke the surface, Mike was understandably full of smiles,
as we congratulated him on his good luck. A bit too early though. Once we got
this fish aboard, what was all this extra gear here?
didn’t take too long for the facts to emerge. This hapuku was not hooked by
Mike, it was connected up to Terrys hook and trace. What Mike had caught, was
had to be the worlds unluckiest hapuku, but we didn’t care! So, in a rare
sharing of glory, Mike and Terry got to claim joint ownership of the catch of
were now keen for another fight with some kingfish, so without further ado, we
sorted the gear out, and headed off for the Ten Mile. On the way, Rick and
Quentin filleted all our catch for us, saving a ton of space in the rather
limited amount of space available in the guys cars.
closer we got to the coast, the flatter the sea became, until as we reached the
Ten Mile, the sea was a sheet of glass. Pulling up over a dense mass of fish on
the sounder, Rick had us all ready with the livie baits, and in a minute seven
surprised mackerel were heading for the deeps.
first one or two guys had some problems with ‘couta, Terry hooked into another small kingi ,
then at the back of the boat Rod Lange let out a holler as he locked up solid
into-- something. Hmm, no pull, what was going on here? Curious, Rod cranked
flat-out and again swung on the rod, a real heavy duty hook-setting strike. This
time there was a response.
first I knew about it was when I saw the eight foot mako leap fully clear of the
water, doing a brilliant back-somersault, crashing back in a foam of white
water. Oh boy, now what! Without further ado, the mako, now transformed from an
inert weight on the line to 120kgs of extremely ‘ert’ (the opposite of ‘inert’?)
and not a little annoyed biting machine took off in the general direction of
White Island or Peru, cutting a swath through the other guys’ lines on the way.
to his credit, tried to keep clear of the rest of the crew, and to stay attached
to this mean munchie, but if you hook a big shark on relatively light nylon,
there really is only likely outcome -after a very fraught two minutes, the trace went “Ping!” and
Rod had to return to the stern of Pursuit where the rest of the crew were trying
to unravel their combined mess of mako manufactured Macramé that the shark had
zig-zagged through their lines.
was about it for the trip, time was rolling on and after seeing such a
magnificent fish as that mako, any further fish tended to look a little
insignificant, so the decision was made to head back to
what did we think of the “Pursuit”? Frankly, this is about the best boat I have
seen for Rick’s sort of Operation. Words like “Awesome” and “Brilliant” just
can’t come close to how impressive this boat is. For a combination
Sport-fishing, Game-fishing Luxury Fishing boat, you will not find better
way Rick worked in with Arch McTainsh of Nautic Design and Peter Marks of Aztec
Marine to Design and then Build this beautiful vessel has resulted in a
damn-near perfect boat.
Everything has been laid out for ease of use and anglers comfort, from the
incredibly handy for’ard live-bait tank and rod-holders, to the way all the
doors and seats have been made a little bit larger for bigger guys. The salon
and Galley area is clean, functional, open and roomy, with a wide open panoramic view from the
seats anywhere inside.
berths are just great- although admittedly I did grab the extra-roomy double
berth, but on asking the others, they were all thoroughly satisfied with their
beds. The Flying bridge has enough seating for the entire crew, we had six guys
up there at times, with no-one even close to being
top-of-the-line charter fishing vessel, you truly will find none better in New
Zealand. You wait, the Rave Reviews in all the fishing magazines will tell you
all about it this year, I bet you!