The amazing calm before another Far North storm

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    Posted: 02 Jun 2023 at 10:18pm
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It is a true privilege to be able to get up to the Far North once a year to experience the incredible fishery on offer. This year, I managed to fluke four days of excellent late autumn conditions – including two glass out mornings – sandwiched between nasty storm fronts sweeping in courtesy of La Nina.

The trip was the usual roller coaster of emotions, from the high of a nice kingie on softbait gear while fishing solo early on, to having the sobering experience of what I can confidently say is the biggest snapper I’ve ever hooked being devoured by what must have been a scarily large shark in the open sea off Great Exhibition Bay. In between, my mate – who joined me for two days – and I landed and released multiple fish over 70cm on softbaits (the biggest, 76cm), and kept some lovely trevally and snapper for fresh kai moana, and to vacuum pack for families back home.

At the start of the trip, Rangaunu Bay was full of dirty water and weed – the legacy of the previous week’s deluges flushing out from Rangaunu and Houhora harbours. But huge flocks of shearwaters were working along the coast up towards Cape Karikari, where the water seemed clearer. There were large numbers of hungry snapper and trevally underneath that were keen to nail softbaits on the drop. At times, every cast ripped up tight. In the quick, but memorable, late afternoon session I squeezed in the day I arrived, I got six nice trevally and about 20 snapper to the boat – mostly on Gulp Crazy Legs in various colours. Sometimes fish jolted lures hard as they were wound back, and I had several double hook ups, with the dragging lure in the holder nailed as I was playing a fish hooked on the drop.

In the following days, the sea gradually cleared – returning to stunning blue visibility. Fortunately, that coincided with my mate Chris joining me for a couple of days. We saw something I haven’t seen before: huge schools of blue maomao and sweep 10m down, well off the coast in 35m of water off the Houhora cliffs. We also saw a long-lasting bust up of what I assume must have been decent tuna or potentially kingies well out towards the horizon, and a big kingie exploding in circles right in on the beach as it chased a panicking victim.

I was thrilled to hook snapper on my home-tied squid imitation ‘skutes’ (on ½ oz jigheads tied in the Avalon fly style, with rabbit fur strips alongside the main body); and had a ghostly coloured john dory, an impressively bucket-mouthed granddaddy hapuku, and a red pig fish smack large softbaits over broken foul.

While smaller Z Man curly tails and Gulp Crazy Legs were the stars of the show over the sand, my best weapon in the reefy country was the big Z Man Doormatadorz 6" grub in Atomic Sunrise (with a Z Man skirt at the head), closely followed by the 7” jerk shadz in Coral Trout and Bruised Banana. Away from the sand, anything Gulp got shredded in seconds.

When a new tropical storm swept in, with 30+ knot nor’easters and 3m swells, it was time to pack up a couple of days early and tow my trusty FC465 home, savouring another superb Far North excursion and nursing a mangled thumb - courtesy of a big snapper's crushing jaws.






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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote MB Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Jun 2023 at 11:01pm
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Great write up. An epic area for fishing. Where do you launch?
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote The Tamure Kid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Jun 2023 at 11:13pm
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Originally posted by MB MB wrote:

Great write up. An epic area for fishing. Where do you launch?

Thanks mate, I appreciate the kind words. I launch off the beach at Rangiputa. There was quite a bit of storm damage around the usual access points, mainly from the cyclone I think. When it's an easterly blow I can still fish the harbour, which is an excellent fishery in its own right; when I'm able to, I venture further afield - while being sensible, filing trip reports with Coastguard etc. 


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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote shaneg Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Jun 2023 at 11:59pm
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Awesome, great pics of the fish, especially like the JD, my favourite in pan but all fantastic photos.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote MB Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Jun 2023 at 5:23am
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Originally posted by The Tamure Kid The Tamure Kid wrote:

Originally posted by MB MB wrote:

Great write up. An epic area for fishing. Where do you launch?

Thanks mate, I appreciate the kind words. I launch off the beach at Rangiputa. There was quite a bit of storm damage around the usual access points, mainly from the cyclone I think. When it's an easterly blow I can still fish the harbour, which is an excellent fishery in its own right; when I'm able to, I venture further afield - while being sensible, filing trip reports with Coastguard etc. 



Thanks. We often stay on the Kaimaumau side. Beach launch can be tricky with lots of soft sand.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Redfinger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Jun 2023 at 11:18am
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Great trip mate - beats all the doom and gloom stories we keep hearing. Dont think it can get much better than that.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote SaltyC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Jun 2023 at 12:44pm
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great report, and good to hear that some of the great fishing we expect in that area is still available, thanks for posting.

Haven't been up that way for a few years, must get back up there soon!
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Sufishent Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2023 at 9:41am
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Great report Lester - thanks for posting
You can never have enough fishing tackle
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Kandrew Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2023 at 5:11pm
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Nice work and some very nice fish there Lester, haven’t been up to rangiputu for years but for me it’s the pick of the beaches up there.

Should think about a mission up there sometime.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote kitno Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2023 at 7:10pm
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Good successful trip Lester. Such a beautiful spot is Rangiputa harbour.
Top 10 finish
2024 Grunter Hunter.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote The Tamure Kid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Jun 2023 at 8:32am
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Originally posted by Redfinger Redfinger wrote:

Great trip mate - beats all the doom and gloom stories we keep hearing. Dont think it can get much better than that.

Thanks big man. You would have been proud of the 465, cruising out in the open sea. one day was so nice we could have gone to North Cape or the Garden Patch if I'd carried enough spare fuel. But when a nasty squall came through on another day off East Beach I felt really secure on the run back to the harbour.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote The Tamure Kid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Jun 2023 at 9:32am
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Thanks for the positive feedback, team.

To Kerry and others thinking about a trip up there, returning to old haunts, I'd highly recommend it. 

It is a mission to get up there from where i live, but not too bad if you give yourself time. There are lots of road works in the Kaeo area and north. I plan my trips a long way in advance, needing to book leave from work etc and then nervously hope for decent weather. It would be awesome to be able to go at short notice to suit weather windows, but that's not something I can do at the moment.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote The Tamure Kid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Jun 2023 at 8:44pm
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Originally posted by MB MB wrote:

Originally posted by The Tamure Kid The Tamure Kid wrote:

Originally posted by MB MB wrote:

Great write up. An epic area for fishing. Where do you launch?


Thanks. We often stay on the Kaimaumau side. Beach launch can be tricky with lots of soft sand.

Sorry, meant to reply earlier MB. The sand at the main access point on the Rangiputa village side of the harbour is very firm in my experience. I have a Hilux but have never needed low ratio (though my small boat is obviously not that heavy compared to some who launch there for game fishing etc). In past years there was sometimes a bit of soft sand right at the access point, and some folk have got stuck I believe. But a few years of storms seem to have washed that away and the water gets right up to the rock wall now (no soft sand). That might change in the future if the community reinstates a bit of beach.
There are almost always friendly locals around who I'm sure would help out if anyone has an issue. I once saw bach owners helping pull a large delivery style truck out of soft sand well along the beach - no idea what it was doing there - with a big tractor.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote MB Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 2023 at 11:00pm
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Thanks for that info. May give it a go sometime.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote kaveman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jun 2023 at 10:29am
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Great trip report Lester, will be heading up that way as soon as spring arrives

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