One phenomenon we find particularly interesting when taking beginners out snapper slowjigging is that, more often than not, our lady anglers out-fish their male counterparts.
I’m not intentionally trying to ruffle any feathers here, as these are merely observations and gross generalisations, but there are a few key reasons why I think females are better firsttime slow-jiggers:
We have a very relaxed attitude on our charters and try not to overdo the advice. However, we do want our punters to have the best experience possible and catch big fish.
Slow-jigging is a simple game, especially when fishing kaburas. In most situations, all you need to do is drop to the bottom, push the drag up to strike, and make 10 slow winds of the reel handle. If you feel bites keep on slowly winding and fish will hook themselves.
If after 10 winds there is no fish attached, drop back down and repeat this process a couple of times before bringing the lure back to the surface to start all over again.
For inchiku jigs, it is simply a case of adding some slow rod movements to complement the winding.
The cliché that men aren’t the best listeners is probably a cliché for a good reason – because sometimes we are too proud to ask for clarification or advice. Common slow-jigging crimes that disregard basic advice include:
• Casting the lure into the wind
• Working the lure too quickly
• Not working the lure at all
• Striking at the smallest hint of a nibble
• Not bringing the lure to the surface for redeployment often enough
• Not leaving larger fish in the water until they can be netted
• Not checking lures and hooks regularly – often hooks get caught up in the body of the lure or become blunt
Aggressive slow-jigging is an oxymoron. Don’t get me wrong, belligerent tactics certainly have a place in many fishing situations. In fact, I love it when my anglers roll their sleeves up and get stuck into kingfish on heavy gear because it saves me tying fresh PR knots!
However, the gear used and the clean bottom fishing situation in the Hauraki Gulf slow-jig fishery warrant a cool, calm and collected approach. The hooks on inchiku and kabura lures are tiny and prone to pulling out, bending or even breaking, depending on your technique and level of aggression.
Light drags, smooth actions and constant pressure are your best friends. I’ve seen kingfish up to 17kg subdued on light gear with tiny kabura hooks – it just takes some time. After all, when you’re fishing over a sand, shell or mud bottom the fish shouldn’t be busting you off.
If hooks are falling out or the line is being broken repeatedly, then anglers are probably exhibiting one or more of the following aggressive behaviours once a fish is hooked:
• Pushing the drag up to sunset
• Not using the rod at all and/or treating the reel like a winch, complete with ferocious winding
• Violently whipping the rod upwards, usually followed by a rapid drop of the rod tip that creates slack line In our experience the above slow-jigging faux-pas can almost always be attributed to our male clients!
Although old mate ‘Rodney Holder’ accounts for a surprising number of fish, especially on windy days with fast drifts, your best bet is to keep the rod in your hand. Unfortunately, blokes seem particularly adept at the following:
• Quickly losing faith in the system, complaining about drifting too quickly, wanting to put the anchor down, or wanting to put bait on the lures!
• Using other anglers as ‘guinea-pigs’ until the bite comes on or a work-up starts, which often means missing out on nice fish because their lure is out of the water or lethargically sulking on the bottom.
• Constant business calls or refreshment breaks (accompanied by toilet breaks) – but hey, fishing is secondary for some and we understand that!
• Wanting to change lure colours as soon as another colour happens to catch a better fish. Chances are their previous colour will nab the fish of the day on someone else’s rod!
Like anything to do with fishing, the gear, the techniques used and the fisheries themselves continue to change. So my advice, if not already off the mark, will probably soon be out of date.
This article merely provides some food for thought, in an effort to get blokes to lift their games. Hopefully some of these points are taken on board so that next time I can criticise the fairer sex and really ruffle some feathers!
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