Sunday, 29 January 2012

Monday Fish 3, The Wairau Diversion, Spring Creek and Wairau River

The Tuesday after our last Monday fish, Jim turned up at my house on his way back from a swim, holding up a kahawai. He said his first attempt to grab the fish as it was lingering around some kelp made it get some life into it, but then he grabbed it near the tail and held on, and managed to get into onto dry land.

After getting it home and filleting it, he said he noticed it looked a bit damaged near its lower spine, possibly from the trawler that had been operating in Cloudy Bay recently. A good explanation for why it was probably a bit more docile than expected.

We decided to have another fish the next Monday.

Monday morning came, and I drove down to Jim’s house around 5am. He was waiting at his gate with his fishing gear.

The plan was to try the Diversion again at first light, and then either go up the river or try the Bar, depending on our mood. Jim had bought himself a trout fishing license during the week.

It was even colder than the previous Monday. I had to take a break from fishing every now and then to warm my casting hand in my pocket. I was glad I had come prepared in thermals. The weather had turned rather frigid for mid-summer.

The tide was fairly high, compared to it being around low tide last Monday, and I was optimistic we would have better luck this time.

We didn’t.

 I had an irate seagull diving and squawking at me at one stage. If it was guarding a nest, it must get irate fairly often, as the Diversion river-mouth must be the busiest part of the Wairau River.

Jim was barefoot in the waves while I was dreaming of hot mugs of tea again.

Another car turned up with some young guys. They didn’t seem to have any more luck than us.

Eventually we gave up and returned to the vehicle. Jim offered me a cup of tea from his thermos. Magic.

We pondered our next move while packing away the gear, eventually deciding on trying for a trout where Spring Creek flows into the Wairau – about 5 minutes drive away.

After parking and getting our gear sorted, we walked the short track to the river. Walking along the riverside, we started casting lures into the Wairau as we neared where it turns and also meets Spring Creek.

We split up for a while, and I had a few casts into the lower Spring Creek after trying unsuccessfully to spot a trout in the Wairau.

I changed from the black-with-yellow-spots black fury spinner that I had been using, to my favourite style of rubbery-little-yellow-and-black-fish lure.

~ Jim, I just had a fairly small fish follow my lure – I guess a rainbow, but it looked like a kahawai. Would they come up this high from the rivermouth?

~ I don’t see why not.

Then Jim fished the lower part of Spring Creek where I had been, while I stayed casting into the Wairau. I heard him say something about a snag, and turned around to see him with water up to his neck, freeing his lure. Dedicated lure retrieval, right there.

There wasn’t much action, so we started walking back.

Jim brought up the subject of felt-soled boots, pointing out that they’re now not allowed according to the regulations, to try to prevent the spread of didymo.

He told me about a time back in the 80s, when he had hooked a fish, and was following it upstream, and slipped on wet slippery rocks and fell onto his face, knocking himself out.

~ When I came to, there was all this blood around me, and the fish was still on the line.

After landing the fish and eventually making his way back to civilization, he found out his nose was broken.

Anyway, back to our fishing – we stopped for a look at a spot where Spring Creek splits into two briefly before joining back up again.

There was a nice pool to cast into, with surrounding trees, but more than enough room to be comfortable casting.

A trout was rising right in front of us.

He turned around and followed my lure, taking a good look, but he didn’t take it. Maybe I should have given it a quick little getaway-twitch to spur the feeding fish into action.

We attempted a few more casts from the same spot, and also on the opposite side of the stream. He continued feeding, but ignored our lures.

Jim asked if I thought he should try his new fishing technique that he used to catch his kahawai the week before.

I’m pretty sure that’s against the regulations, too, Jim.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Monday Fish 2, The Wairau Diversion

Jim picked me up at 5am. It was my idea to try the Wairau Bar last time, and Jim had suggested the Diversion at first light for our next trip, hence the early start.

I met him at my gate with my fishing gear and cup of tea in hand.

There was a cooler-than-expected breeze coming down the river when we arrived. I had put my jersey on as an after-thought before leaving, but was now happy I had my anorak-in-a-bag packed away to put on as well.

I fished the river mouth for a while before heading further down the beach where there was more surf.

At one point while casting, wishing I’d put a warm hat on instead of my cap, and dreaming of another hot mug of tea, I noticed Jim had taken his sandals off and was knee-deep in the surf.

No fish caught, but worthwhile trip for the magic of watching the sun come up over the sea on a still morning, and the pleasant company.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Monday Fish 1 (Part 1) Wairau Bar

It had just gone 7am – the time I’d told Jim I would call, so I picked up the phone and rang.

~ Hello?
~ Howdy Jim, how’s it going?
~ Good mate, how are you?
~ Good, good… You still up for a fish, or at least taking a look?
~ Yeah, I’ll take a look with you if you think it’s worth it.
~ Well, there is a swell I can hear still coming in, but there’s no wind at all, and we didn’t get too much rain, so hopefully the river is ok.
~ Sounds good to me then, Nigel.
~ Ok, see you around seven fifteen outside your place? I’ll toot the horn if I don’t see you.
~ Don’t worry, I’ll be there.
~ Ok, cheers, see y’ soon.
~ Ok, bye.

After my success landing the kahawai at the Wairau Bar the other day, I wanted to take another look and had mentioned it to Jim in passing, who said he’d be keen to join me.

The sky was mostly overcast, and the air was warm and still – possibly what some call earthquake weather.

One car was already parked when we arrived at the Bar, with another pulling up. There was quite a swell coming in, but still no wind. The river wasn’t too dirty or full of sticks and logs, which will normally happen after a lot of rain in the hills.

Both of the other two men fishing drove off before too long, leaving Jim and I to fish on our own. Pleasant enough fishing, but no strikes or fish landed.

Jim said we could try fishing the Diversion on our way back if I wanted, and informed me in a fake Irish accent that he had no medical surgery booked for the day. Must ask him what he was talking about…

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Kahawai from the Wairau Bar

Before the recent rain hit, I made a point of getting down to the Wairau Bar for a fish to see if I could catch a kahawai on the out-going tide. The river had just started to clear, and I knew the rain would make a bit of a mess again.

I started using a softbait setup but changed to a small gold 'ticer' - everyone else seemed to be using the big silver versions, often on surf casters. There must have been twenty-something people near the mouth. I prefer fishing in more solitary surroundings, but had heard of kahawai being caught here so wanted to give it a go.

Other people were catching fish, so I knew they were there. I eventually landed the kahawai shown above, destined for a slow smoke in the bbq.

I hooked two more feisty fish, but the current was quite strong by then, and my nylon wasn't up to it - I kept breaking the line when merely trying to tie knots, so it obviously needed replacing.

More nylon has been ordered, and another trip planned in the coming week. I’ll try stripping off 30 metres of line or so and see if the nylon at that point is still useful if the new nylon hasn’t turned up in time for my next mission. (Update: stripping off line didn't work - it needed replacing, so I took heavier line off another reel to make do in the meantime, before my new 6 pound line turns up in the mail)