“I have never seen the harbour this flat” was a re-occurring comment last Wednesday morning.
After a busy couple of days whipping around the stores of the lower North Island, a morning out on the Rangitoto Channel buoys flinging flies at Kingfish seemed the best way to ease back into the Auckland work day. We’d learnt a few weeks back that it’s achievable to nip out from the boat ramp at the butt-crack of dawn, haul in a few and make it back to the office in time for a normal work day…. But when the sea is this glassy, the sun this shiney and the fishing this epic… why rush?
The company was great too, Rene and I were joined by Andrew Fuller, owner of The Flyfisher Melbourne – you may recognise him from such films as “Getting thumped by Poon in dirty water” – and within the first couple of marker buoy drifted, he was getting thumped again by the Waitamata’s answer to popper smashing Tarpon… The Kingfish!
The flat sea, perfectly timed tide, warm clean water and plethora of active fish – matched with some big reach casts, lively flies and all the right gear; made last Wednesday possibly the best SWF day I have ever experienced. We were all a few fish each on the board, after spending the morning fishing a single rod, fish for fish - setting up careful drifts, precisions casts, varied retrieves and a very analysed overall approach.
However we eventually realised that we could really just drift aimlessly, cast any direction, strip any fly – and we’d get smashed. No matter where we went we seemed to be surrounded by a 100m radius of surface-active fish and each cast and retrieve would generate interest from at least 10 or so fish - and more often than not a hook up.
By mid-morning we abandoned the careful-quiet approach and instead opted for flinging 2 rods either side out the back, plus one angler casting perched on the bow. It got ridiculous: double hook ups, endless fish, it became a numbers game – although we very quickly lost count.
We each had our turns testing out the 9, 10 and 12 weight Scott Tidal rods – and with the rate of casts/fish per hour they were getting a fair testing. These rods really do hold true to their design brief of create a strong, powerful, battle-winning rod that is easy to cast. Testing the Tidal 9’0” #10 matched with a Depthfinder 400gr, casting a large air-dragging Lucent Baitfish was proof in the pudding. A single, smooth laid out back cast allowing the rod to fully load, feeling the bend – followed by a single-movement forward stroke and simultaneous haul, with significantly slower and less effort than what your brain might think you’d need to apply – delivers speed and distance with a lot of comfort and ease. Definitely what you want when you’re making a lot of casts!
The highlight of the morning was a slow silent drift toward a reef marker while the fast-sink shooting head was swapped to an intermediate with a popper fly. As we drifted toward to reef Andrew let a long cast rip right to the marker. Within two strips the 75cm+ Kingie peeled up from below and took the popper, almost airborne. Andrew used the Tidal 10 weight’s lifting power to steer the fish away from the reef and nothing can really pull too far against a Hatch drag system. A perfectly fought battle using the best gear for its purpose, saw the largest of the day’s fish landed aboard “The Sea Bomb” in no time.
Another highlight which seemed to happen over and over throughout the day, was the surface takes that happened as soon as the fly hit the water (before the retrieve had even begun) – resembling a slow surface dry fly take from a Brown Trout. Of course the ensuing strip strike and resulting mayhem is something that this special fish and style of fishing offers. Andrew was amazed at the quality of fishing and accessibility that we’re blessed with in Auckland’s harbours. While it may not always be as perfect conditions as what we experienced on Wednesday, at least it’s always there for those willing to get up and at ‘em early enough! It helps if you’ve got a cool boss (or even easier if the boss if on the boat with you.)