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Big day on the Hauraki

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    Posted: 03 Jun 2012 at 9:50pm
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Had another killer day on the bricks with the fly today. Actually, I would guess that it will be a very, very long time before I have another day like this.

 We launched from Martin's Bay at about 8am, and I was dropped off and had the salmon berley pumping by 8.30. Conditions were beautiful, still and a bit of swell, with a lot of high cloud to keep the shine down. Montie and my brother Jack found a good possie 200m off to do a bit of bait fishing from the inflatable.

 I cubed up a few pillies and drip fed them in while I got a feel for what was down there, and immediately I could see a good few flashes and white fin tips zipping around. First cast was a keeper snap, and this continued unabated for the next hour. The pattern was simple: drop down white rabbit fly, snapper rips up and slams it, land him, return and straight back into the next. I changed to interceptors, they nailed them. Clousers, same story. A few flies I would classify as "God only knows what" did just as well. In amongst the pannie soup I managed two keeper blue cod too.

 After an hour, a longer than normal cast got absolutely smashed, and I was onto a good fish. He took me round the corner to the left and through some weeds, but after some sneaky rod work on my part I was tight again. Pretty soon I had him near the surface, a good 7lb fish, when the hook pulled. Back to square one.

 By now things were really heating up in the berley. Big kahawai were zipping around hassling everything and slashing berley off the surface. Bigger pannies were finning around right at the surface, and all sorts of other species were partying hard too. Down deeper I saw some serious snapper lurking. Each fly I dropped (not cast, just dropped at my feet), would get hit by three kahawai and three 35cm snaps before it got to the bigger fish. With barbless hooks and a lot of slack line, I could get it past the gauntlet to the better customers. 

 The first bigger fish I hooked nearly took me to the cleaners. He streaked to the right, down deep and around a corner. There was an overhanging ledge and he went right under it. I followed him and had to stretch the rod under the water, reel included, to free the line and get tight. Then after a good slugging match I was able to see big flashes of colour. A few hairy moments near the surface and I had a new PB, a respectable 53cm red, and a PB on the fly. There were three boats close by watching and they all gave me thumbs ups. They weren't catching any that I could see.

 Back to the snapper soup and the 50cm fish were coming right up to the berley. Next drop and I sight fished another, a twin of the first. He fought exactly like the first: around the corner under the ledge in a blistering run, I put the whole rod under and freed him, then slugged him in. More thumbs up and yells of encouragement from the boats.

 This time when I got back to the berley, things were a little surreal. There were two giant snapper gliding around at my feet. I fed them pillie cubes, then checked every part of my gear: reel for tangles, trace for nicks, knots for wear, hook for dulled point. Everything seemed hopelessly inadequate: trout gear. Knife, gunfight.

 So I dropped my fly in and immediately one of the big chaps cruised up and sucked it back. Strike! He headed straight out in front in a steaming sprint that took about 50m of backing. Then he veered right and the hook pulled. I have only been using barbless hooks, which may or may not have been the cause of the escape. However I was just stoked to have been connected. Also I was pleased to have survived that first run.

 I flicked off a text to Mont and Jack in the boat, then went back to the berley. Nothing. Hadn't really expected the second fish to still be around after his mate had just hared off to the horizon in a blind panic. So down the fly goes, and up comes the second big fish, too fast for me even to get the adrenalin rush. He gulped the fly, turned, I struck and all hell broke loose. This one went straight around the corner, right under the ledge, but twice as hard and fast as the previous two. The fly line vanished, then 100m of 50lb braid. after 30seconds I was damn near spooled!

 I was helpless to slow him, and didn't want to put pressure on the braid, which was in contact with barnacle encrusted rocks. Fortunately the run slowed, and I was able to free the braid and reconnect. Exactly the same procedure as for the first two fish. Truly amazing that the braid held. I can only think that it went around a kelp stem or some other forgiving surface.

 By now he was miles off, over a big ugly bommie, but at least I was tight. I played him very softly, as I didn't really have any other option. 20lb fluoro and a barbless hook. He'd taken me along the rocks into a group of seals, but fortunately they just watched me with interest but no malice or fear. 

 Now it was a slow slug, back and forth. I'd lead him off the bommie, and he'd bulldoze back. For some reason he couldn't seem to find a crag or kelp stem. After 15 mins I started to think that I might have a chance. My right arm was cramping badly, and I had a bruise in my ribs from the rod butt. Another 5 mins and I had my first flash of colour. Now I forced myself to slow right down. He wasn't going to find a snag in close, and all I had to connect me was a small barbless daiichi fly hook. I forced myself to concentrate, to calm down, to stop the greedy panic and buck fever that comes when the fish gets close. 

Finally I got him a rod length away. I could see the hook had a good purchase in the front upper lip. He started to thrash on the surface, and I let him go back down. Next time he came up he was really flagging.

 With a sloping ledge in front of me, I was able to get into the water to my knees and nurse him over. I slipped a hand in his gills, but he gave a mighty thrash and dove back down. I nursed him back up and tried again, with the same result. The third time I actually grabbed a gill raker and had him. 

 I slid him up the rocks and ikied him, then sat down. The boats gave a few yells. I couldn't believe the size of him. I measured him on the spot, 77cm. 


 Back to the berley, and I could see Jack and Mont had seen it all. A few texts, and then I sat down for a rest. I looked down in the berley and there's another huge snapper in the 20lb league. Panic again, as I texted Mont and Jack to come over and have a go at it themselves. But they were happy in the boat, and pretty soon the big chap melted away. I wasn't going to push my luck.

Broke my camera a few weeks ago, but fortunately Jack had his phone to take these shots:


Look at that little trout reel!

The final bag. I probably released another 15-20 keepers.


On the way home we dropped in to Westhaven to get it weighed, the boys at W.S.Lauries were happy to help (thanks fellers). 17.8lb!

Thanks to all of you here who offered help and advice. 

Thanks also to Yoshi at Rod and Reel, who sold me the hooks and materials for my flies yesterday. You and Pete can expect a lot more custom from me!



 
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Troutzilla Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Jun 2012 at 9:58pm
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Wow dude thats a f#*kin awesome snapper on any tackle but extra special on fly gear. A day to remember!!!
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote bokbefok Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Jun 2012 at 10:19pm
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BRILLIANT! WELL DONEThumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Millsy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Jun 2012 at 10:47pm
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote BigEarn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2012 at 2:30am
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Holy moly Shocked That's just awesome... Clap
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote EditB Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2012 at 6:56am
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Nice one Tom, we're heading out that way now, so very excited !
I do not lie about fishing, I willingly participate in a campaign of misinformation.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote matto Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2012 at 8:11am
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wahoo, thats a cracker day.Fantastic fish. I thought your landbased fishing background would project you into being a great saltwater fly fisherman, its cool to see you have cracked it so fast.Thumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Damo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2012 at 8:16am
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Nice job!


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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Keith C Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2012 at 8:45am
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Great fish and excellent writing. Well done.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote shoby Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2012 at 9:00am
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Awesome report Tom, well done
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote JonnyBlaze Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2012 at 10:20am
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Good stuff Tom! 
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote The Dog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2012 at 10:33am
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Mean as..... Well done.

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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Mike.Thomas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2012 at 11:38am
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Superb! well done.
All the best.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Blue Asparagus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2012 at 12:32pm
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awesome stuff, dam fine fish
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Kezza Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2012 at 12:55pm
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Great read mate...top effort!
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote FishMan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2012 at 1:55pm
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Sensational! Just goes to show that big snapper will hit a fly as readily as a bait. Scary stuff with that reel though. No wonder you were getting cramp. Well done Clap
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote SufixRockMan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2012 at 3:21pm
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You're a machine Ahab.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote JonnyBlaze Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2012 at 6:09pm
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Originally posted by Havok Havok wrote:

You're a machine Ahab.
Like a android or a robot.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote webbyfly Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2012 at 8:44pm
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WOW, you bas#@*d, I'm green.
Good on ya!!
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote shad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2012 at 8:52pm
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Well done mateClap
LOVE THE FREEDOM

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