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Saturday, 6 December 2014

The far side of the mouth

As I write, the dry westerly is blowing outside. It's now December and the local whitebaiting season has ended.

One of the main things I miss about the whitebaiting season is the opening of the road that runs down the southern side of the Wairau Diversion to the mouth - it gets opened for the season, then goes back to being a private farm road.

I try to fish there instead of the usual north side whenever it's open. It makes a nice change - normally less people, an undulating road that's more fun to ride the motorbike on, and the ability to fish spots you can't quite reach from the other side.

November had a lot of wind; too much wind. The grass in my yard that hadn't managed to catch some water from the garden sprinkler turned brown. It'd been too windy to jump on the motorbike and go for fish. I did manage to get out for a ride and fish near the end of the month, though.

***

It was late afternoon, I was out in the yard and noticed how still it was. I checked the tide forecast; incoming, just after low. I grabbed my fishing bag, jumped on the bike and rode down to the Diversion's southern side, rode through the gateway (open/close gate - always leave a gate how you found it) and down to the mouth.

At the mouth, a few people were whitebaiting. Nobody was fishing on my side, but some were casting lures on the other side. I set my rod up and wandered down, casting once I reached the water. Nobody seemed to be catching anything. I walked down toward the surf, having the odd cast, then carried on around into the surf to see if any fish happened to be coming in.


Nothing seemed to be happening fish-wise and I sat on a log, wondering whether to pack up and see if anything was happening at the Wairau Bar. I find sometimes sitting back and watching for a while is helpful - you either have a nice quiet moment and/or discover something that might help the fishing.

Shags were swimming, diving, chasing small fish. Some fish that seemed quite big for a shag to swallow were being guzzled down.

I started casting into a spot where the current pushes into the surf and the birds were active in the water. I soon hooked a fish that felt quite big. I land a kahawai that wasn't as big as I originally thought. Hooking any fish is better than no fish. I stayed and fished more.

The birds were still chasing and catching. I also caught some more - some bigger, and lost some at the water's edge, in the surf. With the last few that I caught, I started running up the beach when I reeled them into the surf - I might've looked slightly crazier, but the fish didn't get away.

There still wasn't anyone fishing on my side, and nobody that was fishing on the other side seemed to be catching anything. It's a strangely nice feeling; possibly because if anything, the shoe is normally on the other foot.


***

I've had fun fishing at the Diversion mouth with my new rod/reel setup and feel strangely hesitant about heading up the river to my usual spots looking for trout. I'm not sure where I'll be fishing next, but I think exploring will be high on the priority list... although the northern side of the Diversion mouth will now go back to being more pleasant without all the whitebaiters around, so we'll see... the kahawai may stick around, and there's always the possibility of a sea-run trout or even a salmon before long.

If only the wind would abate.