While I was having a wee motor moment at the back of the boat, lifting the little 6 horse’s prop out of the sand once again, the urgency in Alex’s voice commanded my attention.
“Dad, there’s a ray...it’s got fish on it! Oh my God, there’s Kingfish!”
The sight of ray riding Kingfish is a sight to truly behold, and I’m sure if it wasn’t for the bucket dump of adrenaline coursing through my body right then, I would have been besotted by their iridescent beauty. They just seemed to glow.
“Don’t cast over it!”
Shots at fish can be a bit of a rarity, so you need to make sure you do everything humanly possible to tip the odds in your favour. The last thing you want is to have your fleeing baitfish imitation fleeing toward the predator: it just doesn’t happen. I’ve tried to drum it in to him time and again: DON’T...CAST...OVER...THE...FISH. To reinforce this we had earlier “practiced” on channel markers, and each errant cast was followed by a quick “sorry”.
He got it right this time though, and his frantic stripping incited an immediate follow, and then a refusal. In the fishes mind, something just wasn’t quite right. I have to admit my heart sank a little at that moment, but the following cast was smack on the nose of the second fish. With a single strip, the Olive Piper was totally engulfed and the hook firmly set.
The following moments were a mash of emotions; flyline flying and burning fingers; oh my God I’m hooked up; do we boat?; do we wade?; Dad, I’m in my backing; relax, there’s plenty; will our knots hold?; woohoo!; will it come undone?; take photos!
I’ve been an avid freshwater fly-fisher for a good number of years - I don’t care to count - and there have been many highlights throughout that time, but tailing my son’s first fly rod Kingfish in the shallows of the Tauranga Harbour this day will have to go down as one of my favourites.
The trout will always have my heart, but hunting down these born-to-be-bad brute strength brawlers has been an annual pilgrimage I’m keen to continue with. Kingfish are one of this countries most revered sportfish and with good preparation, an ounce of luck and a ton of tenacity, you too could wear a King Grin.