The silly season is upon us and there’s no turning back. With that it’s fair time to remind people of a few basic things, most of all the practice of catch and release. So, here’s a few key things to take into consideration to ensure a strong healthy release if that’s what you intend to do.
Fighting the fish
Fight hard, the quicker you bring it in the better chance it will have to swim off strong.
Use gear that is up to the task, no point being a hero with that butter knife at a gun fight.
Go barbless, you won’t lose fish because of it, trust me.
Use a soft rubberised knotless net
Have everything ready to go for release – camera, tag kit etc
When lifting fish for pictures etc get a good grip around the tail and support under the pectoral fins with the other hand – avoid the gills.
Keep the fish in the water as much as possible, you try holding your breath after running a marathon. If it means you dunk it back in the water for a breather then do it.
Don’t drag them over the rocks or sand. Saying “they’re pretty tough” doesn’t cut it.
Wait until the fish is upright and able to swim off on its own.
Only spear them into deep water if there s a risk from sharks
If sharks are present either race away from them in the boat and release, or throw a bucket of water in one direction followed soon after by the fish in the other direction – the sharks should respond to the first commotion and hopefully miss the fish release.
If you’re getting sharked there’s no point catching more fish. You may as well keep undersized fish and not worry about limits, plus you’re just educating the sharks for future easy meals.
There’s also this thing called etiquette… If someone’s fishing a flat drop in behind them and give them heaps of room. Same goes for fishing the navigation markers – there’s a load of them, go to a different one if there’s someone already there. Assessing the action of people fishing before rushing in goes a long way, having a friendly chat also helps if its a busy area.
Lastly, learn the basic navigation rules for when on the water. There are day skipper courses that cost less than the price of a standard tank of fuel, this should avoid any of those potentially ugly situations arising.
Have a safe and enjoyable festive season on the water.
This season kicked off with good spikes in water temperature only to quickly shoot back down with the onset of the next cold front. The typical unsettled spring activity we experienced has now passed and we have good temps holding throughout the harbour. Loads of baitfish are prominent around key points with piper being the real standout – given these are regarded as kingfish candy it’s no surprise to see big sprays of bait getting chased around.
Stingrays are settling into their flats and the subsequent Ray riders are hanging on for the ride around the harbour. Whether they’re busting bait, snacking on flounder or sniffing about diggings they’ll take anything thrown at them currently, provided the presentation is on the money and the dreaded trout strike doesn’t creep in. Spending time staked out on the flats with the aid of the Minn Kota Talon has been great when you’re sitting in prime kingfish real estate, something I’m definately doing a lot when you feel it’s worth hanging about for some action to cruise past.
The entrance has seen some really good fishing also, with sessions of multiple fish coming to the boat, most of them making it into the net but some being just to smart or strong to make the full trip alongside. This bodes well for the next few months as fish transition into the harbour to cause havoc amongst the baitfish. There’s some big fish among them, so we’ve had the Scott Sector 10 and 12’s rigged for the chance of a bigger model.
Speaking of bigger fish there’s a few groups about the harbour that tend to follow the mullet schools around, it would seem they only eat once every day or three but when they do it’s pandemonium. It’s either a case of a big 6/0 semper styled fly on the 12 or a small snack on the 10 weight depending on the feeding vibe present. These fish are smart and really frustrating but the action they’ve provided over the years has been nothing short of heart stopping.
With all this life firing up it’s the perfect time to be chasing kingfish in the shallows, soon the Pohutukawa flowers will bloom and provide some of the most stunning backdrops the harbour has. We have dates available for December so if you want to come and tussle with some thugs drop us a line now. email@example.com
Over the years New Zealand’s salt fly flats have gained huge popularity, and deservingly so. The world class fishery we have right on our doorstep is a great attraction for fly anglers traveling from near or far. With this popularity comes a few points to note in regard to ensuring the longevity of these flats last for generations to come.
The pressure these fish now face is a lot greater than a few years back, it’s not a case of simply rocking up and throwing any bedraggled creation at an easy target. Interestingly so the biggest behavioural trait I have noticed over the last few seasons is not from the kingfish but from the stingrays we often seek. These rays are incredibly clever and have been seen rebelling from the encounters we anglers present. Charging around after them only upsets them and makes them wary of our presence. While it’s hard some days not to harass them for an eat from their counterparts the smart money is on trying to keep them calm and approaching with care. Especially so when wading, those tails are equipped with some heavy artillery [don’t insert Irwin joke here, I’ve heard a lot of them over the years].
Boats are fast becoming mini game vessels and the amount of electronics onboard are mind blowing. I for one am lucky to be packing some great gear onboard, hence the 150kg of batteries I carry to operate it all. Once again the rays are in the sights here, their electroreceptors are capable of picking up electrical noise in the water and consequently disturbing their day. Upon noticing this we have been shutting off any units not required to successfully hunt the flats if the rays are showing signs of altercation. My Humminbirds are my eyes underwater, and when we’re off the flats they earn their keep then. The ability to distinguish what’s happening under the surface is key to presenting flies efficiently and I’d be stuffed without them.
Minn Kotas have opened up so many fishing possibilities for New Zealanders over the last few years, with fly fisherman being some of the early adopters. This time the rays are coping it from over zealous remote control boat drivers. Take it easy, line up the shot with the Minn Kota then try ease into the zone, better yet drift in. Maximum thrusting in close quarters is only going to upset the ray and riders, sending them scattering. If your shot is squandered try shadow the target and let them rest, position your boat in the best visible sight line for the ray and stay as far back as possible, another shot should line up shortly. If you loose them you’ll find they track in a pretty straight line if undisturbed, take a bearing or landmark they were last on and stick to that, you should find them again when the light allows, the whole time thinking of the best lay up for the boat and caster to take their shot when it comes.
With the addition of a Minn Kota Talon on our new build there has been a lot of time just staked out in prime fishy “real estate”, hanging about waiting for passing stingrays and fish. Picking up the composite shaft and sneaking over to intercept their path when the time arises. Another prime example of its many uses is pulling up to a stop without the need to reverse hard on our Minn Kota as the gap closes quickly. This also gives more novice anglers one less moving part to the equation and aids their perception of distance when presenting flies.
Good luck out there this season, just remember to respect the fishery and most important of all have fun.
If you want some info on what we use in Tauranga Harbour chasing Ray rider kingfish on salt water fly gear then peep the video below. Our season here is nearly done, don’t forget to secure your space for next year by flicking a message to the link here.
We recently teamed up with the good buggers at Manic Tackle Project for a weekend of fishing. In-between all that I sat down and went over some basic set ups and preferred knots. Take a quick look at one of the strongest salt water fly fishing loop knots and a few tips to tie it crispy clean every time.
For a few other loop knot options jump back to a test we ran a few years back here.