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Monday Fish #12, Whites Bay

Looking toward Whites Bay from Rarangi Beach (northern Cloudy Bay, Marlborough, New Zealand) on a calm sunny day.

Monday morning was very calm – there was almost no discernable wind, and the small waves lazily dumped onto Rarangi Beach. A seal swam north, close to shore.

It was seldom as calm as this, so I decided I should launch the dinghy for a row to Whites Bay and see what I might catch on the rod.

Before setting off, I attached the small unused anchor to the line, and stowed them in the newly-designated anchor bag. Chapman’s book, Piloting – Seaman & Small Boat Handling provided me with the diagram for the Fisherman’s Bend (or Anchor Bend). My version of the book is the 55th edition from 1981, the latest appears to be the 66th edition from 2009.

Fisherman's Bend also known as an Anchor Bend.

I also had my fishing bag and my two piece rod setup that I had been catching kahawai with lately. The rod was in two pieces to be safe in case the boat overturned while launching, but set up ready to fish once unfolded.

Launching went ok, although one of the waves splashed in before I was able to get out past them – there is quite an undertow and I don’t think I’ll bother trying to launch on any day where there is anything more than a slight swell coming in. In fact, I plan on launching from Whites Bay next time.

One of my oars came out of the rowlock while frantically trying to get the boat moving, and I had to do a bit of side-to-side rowing with that one oar until I got myself under control, so launching didn’t really go that ‘ok’, I guess. Quite lucky really…

I rowed around the rocks near Monkey Bay and continued up the coast towards Whites Bay, stopping for a fish before too long, catching a medium-small kahawai on my second cast, and feeling optimistic about the day’s fishing.

Looking toward the nothern end of Rarangi Beach from Whites Bay (in nothern Cloudy Bay, Marlborough, New Zealand).

I fished some spots on my way towards the Whites Bay beach, with no luck, and started rowing to the eastern side of the bay for a fish near the point.

A seal was sunning himself on the rocks near the point. Fishing with bait yielded nothing after changing from the softbait. I towed a lure back across the bay towards Rarangi Beach with no luck.

The kahawai brought into the boat on my second cast was the only fish I hooked that day. Landing back on the beach was slightly nerve-wracking, but went well in the end.

I saw a seal again a couple of days later, further down the beach, near Blue Gum Corner. He was dozing on the sand and let me get close to him without showing concern – yawning was as active as he got while I took photos near him.

A seal lazes on Rarangi Beach, Marlborough, New Zealand.

Easter Fishing Part 4 – Tuesday 10th April

The weather forecast was good, and our boat was long overdue for some time away from her mooring in Waikawa.

We motored over to Kumutoto and anchored after retrieving my cap that got blown into the water by an unexpected gust.

The aim was to let my son Henry catch his first fish, and troll a lure on the way back to see what might hit it.

Some pleasant time was spent bringing some spotties onboard, with Henry pulling his first fish aboard with some help; and flicking out softbaits with no more luck than a few tentative pulls at one point.

Towing a lure around the bay before heading back towards Allports Island yielded a barracouta near Kumutoto Point - a fun end to a good day.

All fish were released.

Area Report: Marlborough, Wairau River

Fish & Game report good results for salmon fishers in the Wairau River.

Some tips from the article linked to above:
  • Over the next month until the end of the salmon fishing season (30 April) salmon anglers would be better to focus their efforts between the State Highway 6 (Renwick) Bridge and the Wash Bridge. 
  • Look to fish the bottom of the deeper pools or at the junctions of two major braids at first or last light, these are places that salmon like to rest up at as they make their upstream migration to the spawning grounds. 
  • Salmon fishing in the Wairau River can be particularly good after a fresh when flows are receding and there is a bit of color in the water.

Easter Fishing Part 3 – Monday 9th April; Monday Fish #11, Wairau Diversion

 
I assumed the Wairau Bar would have been busy over Easter, so avoided it. I rode the motorbike down to below the Diversion Bridge to have a quick fish.

The water level was very low so I walked out onto the stones in the middle of the river.

I saw a lot of small fish, and used a rubbery lure that looked similar to an inanga that I thought might get taken by something. It didn’t.

The highlight of my time there was a fantail landing on my rod.

Easter Fishing Part 2 – Sunday 8th April

Mark rang up to see if I was keen to look for a trout in the Wairau - sounded like a good plan to me. I mentioned a strip where the dirt road runs beside the river that I’d seen a trout in the last two times I looked, and we made a plan to meet there.

He had already been fishing for a while when I arrived on my motorbike. He’d seen a few trout and tried a few lures. The trout had followed his lures a couple of times.

I set my rod up and put a dead cicada on for bait. The trees behind us were casting shadows on the water, making it hard to see the fish. I managed to get my bait out to a trout, but slight curiosity was about all I got. I haven’t had any luck using the cicadas since catching a trout with one a few weeks ago.

We fished the stretch of water for an hour or so before heading further up-stream where Mark had a few casts in a stretch of faster running water than we had just been fishing. There were trout feeding. I didn’t bother fishing there, leaving it for a guy in a bus that we had been talking to. Mark left for home and I watched the bus guy fly fish for a few minutes before riding further up the river to the spot where I caught the trout on the cicada previously.


A nice-sized trout was lazily swimming around the calm clear pool. I threw my cicada out to it. The trout took a look, but wasn’t interested. I just sat there and watched the trout for a while. It was so close I could have almost touched it.


Easter Fishing Part 1 – Saturday 7th April

It was hard to turn down an offer of a boat trip to spearfish for butterfish despite my childhood fear of getting into cold water, so Saturday morning saw me heading out to the outer Queen Charlotte Sound with my usual fishing setup plus my mate @Spear-It’s wetsuit and spear gun that he’d left me when he shifted to Australia.

You couldn’t have asked for a better day weather-wise, and the trip to our first stop – Ngaturuturu Rocks, off Koamaru – was most pleasant.



I wasn’t overly keen to get into the water, but my two companions were into it. I stayed onboard and fished with my rod, catching a nice smallish kahawai (typical – I come all the way out here, and still catch kahawai). The current was quite strong, as it can be in this spot, apparently; the visibility wasn’t the best for being underwater, so we moved on before too long.

Rounding Cape Koamaru, we turned south and commenced the same fishing attempts – me onboard with the rod whilst my companions jumped in the water with their spear-guns. They had more luck than me, bringing back some butterfish, moki and paua - I didn’t have much action at all. The small fish on the bait-catcher rig were about as interesting as it got for me.

We stopped at another spot on the way back, where they again brought some more butterfish onboard. I switched from my soft plastic to a hex lure that’s commonly used for kahawai, and soon hooked a feisty fish that I assume was a kahawai – it fought briefly like one, and I saw the white flashes of it underwater, but it got away. Soon after I hooked a darker-skinned fish with the same lure, but it also got away.

They allowed me to take some paua, butterfish and moki home for my meagre efforts, which has made me more resolute to get similar fish, if nothing else - lovely eating! My kahawai diet of late has perhaps made me appreciate the ‘better’ fish more…

Monday Fish 10, Wairau Bar


Caught a kahawai on Monday. They really are fun to catch, so I have been trying to make the most of them before they disappear until next summer, which will surely happen before too long.

I think the smaller lures hook them better, so I've been trying to use as small a lure as I can. They aren't very good for casting into the wind, though, so I've been experimenting the last couple of times with putting a sinker above the lure to add weight.

Last time the weight was too heavy, and tangled more times than preferable. This time I had a bigger lure due to the stronger wind, and it cast better. Thinking about it, it does make sense that a sinker that's too heavy above a lure will sink quicker than the lure and more than likely make the hook tangle with the line.

I love the spear-head shape of the sinkers I've been using, and plan on trying more options.