The magical Far North delivers again

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    Posted: 18 May 2024 at 10:17pm
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Titanium
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Unfortunately, I’d committed the fishing equivalent of taking a knife to a gunfight: a serious kingie was bulldozing its way towards the Three Kings, and I was powerless to stop it – being armed with only a softbait outfit.

After grabbing my 7” Bait Junkie ‘Killer Kutai’ jerk shad on the drop in the rocky shallows near one of the Moturoa Islands off remote Cape Karikari, it had gone on a searing run around the bow and under my sea anchor’s main and trip lines. I’d precariously threaded the rod under both to avoid a breakage of line or the rod (which was twisted at an alarming angle), pulled the sea anchor in one-handed, and gained back about 50m of line by starting the motor and driving the boat towards the mini submarine with my knees while winding furiously.

The fish’s journey and southerly wind had worked us into 30m deep water and I thought the odds had shifted in my favour once the fight got relatively vertical. The fish must have been about half way up to the boat. But I just couldn’t win the battle of attrition. Every time I gained a bit of line, it took back more.

I told myself to stay calm and be patient, and uttered a few desperate pleas to whatever fishing god might be listening. But suddenly, everything went slack. Bust off. It was a sickening feeling.

I suspect the knot joining the 20lb Tasline braid and 25lb fluoro leader had been worn by being dragged at high speed through rocks covered with kelp – clumps kept sliding up the line during the fight.

But whatever the cause of the braid snapping, it was another chapter to add to my book of kingfish hard luck stories.

I got some consolation when I landed the kingie’s maybe just legal brother soon after, but that lost fish will haunt my ‘if only’ thoughts for some time.

Trying to put things in perspective over a cuppa and a chocolate bar, I told myself I couldn’t really complain. Lost fish are just part of it, and I’d potentially used up my good luck 30 minutes earlier when I landed a big moocher snapper that took me to ground after an initial sizzling run, before swimming out. When it finally surfaced, I saw that it had inhaled the whole ‘Killer Kutai’ softbait and jighead so far down that the leader had been chafing through its impressive teeth for the whole fight. It could so easily have broken me off.

That morning’s fishing among the beautiful and remote islands encapsulated my annual solo May week in the Far North, based at Rangiputa. Clear water, rugged arid landscapes with hawks soaring overhead, and amazing marine life – including big schools of blue maomao that occasionally erupted on the surface – and hundreds of shearwaters skittering across the water.

But the wildlife highlight was three incredibly special encounters with what appeared to be the same large family pod of dolphins, in different spots around the bay across three days. They seemed to love zooming over to ride in front of my FC465, and it was magic to hear their whistles transmitting through the boat’s aluminium. Some did huge cartwheels or vertical leaps into the air, while others just did graceful, perfectly parabolic dives. I’ve had a number of sightings on previous trips, but these were next level.

The biggest snapper of the softbait-only trip were in the early 70cm range – no donks this time. Z Man Jerk Shadz in ‘Coral Trout’ and ‘Coconut Ice’ were top producers, along with Doormatadorz ‘Atomic Sunrise’ dragged. My favourite 5” ‘Midnight Oil’ grub tail was dynamite over the sand, for snapper and the area’s plentiful hard-pulling trevally.

One 58cm fish spat up a whole baby octopus in the boat – unfortunately for the snapper, it’s last meal! The Daiwa Bait Junkies showed excellent promise, and have an amazing snaky action on the retrieve – getting chased by kahawai and one kingie when being wound in fast. The ‘Killer Kutai’ and ‘Pilchard Glow’ accounted for some very nice fish. They do get ripped, though, unlike Z Man.

The trip species tally included two kingies landed, golden snapper (very tasty eating), chunky trevally, hard-pulling kahawai, and granddaddy hapuku.

The high-pressure system meant I was able to fish all but one day (which brought 25kt southerlies) out in Rangaunu Bay or up the coast north or east.  Truth be told, I needed a day off to give the fingers and lower back a break. So was spent relaxing in the sun with a book and a beverage while a batch of snapper and trevs sat on racks in the farmstay’s classic smokehouse.

It had been another successful pilgrimage to the Far North, and one that provided memories that will sustain me through the winter months.

















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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Alan L Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 May 2024 at 8:09am
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Wow - awesome pics.
Great trip.
That is special fishing.
The far north is just special in its own way.
Alan
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Jaapie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 May 2024 at 10:21am
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Great shots - well done mate.
"Only when the last tree has died, the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught,will we realize that we cannot eat money" - 19th Century Indian Creed
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Kandrew Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 May 2024 at 11:30am
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Great report seems to be some good fish around at the moment.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Snappa Geoff Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 May 2024 at 5:00pm
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Hi Lester, Wow! Another great trip up north, another great writeup.. The Quality of your photo's speak for themselves, stunning! Im tempted  to give the softies a go down here sometime, they would probably go great. Over all the years Ive fished here Ive only met one person that has used them, yet other area's they are very popular.Beer 
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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: 19 May 2024 at 8:34pm
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Thanks for the positive comments, guys, I really appreciate it. Amazing the quality photos you can capture on a Samsung mobile these days. I try to take time to appreciate the natural surroundings on the trip. There's something new to see every day up there. Though I have to admit there were plenty of duds when it came to the dolphins - that momentary delay and all I got was a splash in the water!

Geoff, I'm sure softbaits would work in your area, but for the absolute monsters you get every season I suspect it would be hard to beat your method of big fresh bait, mixed with incredible patience and decades of local knowledge. 
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote krow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 May 2024 at 9:53pm
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Great read and photos. Sounds like a mint trip. Thanks for sharing.

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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote White snake Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 May 2024 at 10:09pm
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Looks like a great trip.Thanks for taking the time to post.was a awsome read.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Sufishent Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 May 2024 at 5:50pm
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Hi Lester - thanks for taking the effort to post a great read. Always good to hear how the small boat brigade delivers big fish time and time again.

Cheers
You can never have enough fishing tackle
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (1) Likes(1)   Quote The Tamure Kid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 May 2024 at 11:08pm
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Titanium
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Originally posted by Sufishent Sufishent wrote:

Hi Lester - thanks for taking the effort to post a great read. Always good to hear how the small boat brigade delivers big fish time and time again.

Cheers

Thanks Steven. Hope you are getting out and getting a few fish too. 

Yes, my little runabout is an excellent fishing platform, and punches above its weight in a lot of ways. I watch the big trailer boats heading out wide to the Garden Patch etc out of Rangiputa and sometimes wish I had that capability. 

But the 465 is very capable of getting to some excellent spots and I can do the launch and retrieve solo without drama. I love exploring the Far North coast with it, while taking care to cross reference multiple forecasts, log trip reports with Coastguard, carry a PLB and flare etc.  
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