“I have been getting the magazine for over 20 years, so this was a wonderful surprise,” says subscription prize winner Cliff Baillie of One Tree Point, Marsden Cove.
Cliff’s name was drawn from several thousand subscribers, and his reward was a day’s fishing aboard Darren and Sheryl Knappings’ Bay of Islands charter boat Days Out for himself and a buddy.
His mate turned out to be his son in law Connell Summer, who lives across the harbour from Cliff at Parua Bay.
A chilly 10-knot southerly greeted us as we boarded the Extreme 885 Centre Cab at 7.00am, and Darren soon had us hauling jack mackerel livebaits off Mosquito Point, the challenge being to land a ‘full house’ of six baits on the one drop. With the tank brimming with good-sized baits, Darren pointed Days Out across the bay past the Nine Pin to a little patch off foul I had successfully fished before. Straylining, mixed with a couple of livebaits for a kingfish or john dory, was the order of the day. I chose to soft-bait, even though we were at anchor, methodically working my lure through the 270 degrees available to me from the bow. Being a full walk-around, Days Off allows anglers to maximise their fishing opportunities and that was evident on this trip.
Our fishing endeavours showed great promise, a good-sized pannie succumbing to the first butterflied jack mackerel of the session, soon followed by another. Then the bite stopped, but not until after Connell had wrestled a just undersized kingfish to the boat.
Moving up the coast to the foul off Lion Rock, we had the same slow result. “I shouldn’t have left the bay,” was the skipper’s lamented cry! ‘Hindsight is always with 20/20 vision’ he was reminded as Days Out was pointed back into the bay.
Darren knows this region well. The ex-commercial fisherman has a feel for the fishing as his Facebook page will attest – but just not today! We tried dropping baits and lures around some of the deeper rocks, where the bronzies made a meal out of everything we hooked up; followed by shallower foul; and then over sand and a horse mussel bed, all with limited results. We scratched up enough snapper to feed all three of our families well, along with a load of XOS kahawai – they were in pest proportions in the bay – which were destined for the smoker. While in the end we were cursing them, on the soft-bait gear in particular they were good sport and required some nimble crew work at times to avoid tangled lines.
Cliff and Connell both said they thoroughly enjoyed their day, passing the comment that Darren had “done his utmost best to put us onto fish, never stopping trying.”
“We still had fish to take away that we didn’t have to fillet (thanks Darren) and while we might not have landed anything too big, it was a great day out with a professional operator on a comfortable boat,” they said.
NZ Fishing Media would like to acknowledge Darren and Sheryl’s contribution to the prize and to my wife Faith for another great bacon and egg pie!
To book your own charter with Days Out, head to www.fishingdaysout.co.nz
– Grant Dixon
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