I saw the sign!

Keen jet-ski an­gler Kirk Davies stum­bles across an un­usual sit­u­a­tion and cashes in…

NZ Fishing News - - Jet-ski Fishing -

It was many years ago that Ace of Base had the hit song ‘I saw the sign’, but it still re­sounds in my head to­day when­ever my Waverun­ner’s fish-finder re­veals a good patch of fish sign.

I’ve al­ways been an ad­vo­cate for hav­ing the best elec­tron­ics you can af­ford: they re­ally are in­valu­able for find­ing fish in places you would least ex­pect to find them. Most peo­ple know that if you’re look­ing for king­fish, you’ll find them on reefy struc­tures in all sorts of depths, of­ten schooled up mid-wa­ter and show­ing as big marks or a large school on the sounder. Like­wise, snap­per also have a tell-tale sig­na­ture, show­ing as one-off tar­gets or as schools on the bot­tom (which can be sandy or reefy and weedy).

How­ever, fish aren’t al­ways where you ex­pect them to be. On a re­cent trip out to 100m of wa­ter, when ex­am­in­ing the edge of a bit of foul that came up to 70m, I saw a lot of fish sign at 30m, some 40m off the bot­tom and ex­tend­ing for over 100m hor­i­zon­tally. To the un­trained eye, it looked like a large school of king­fish, bar­ra­couta or big bait­fish, but I was soon to learn it was none of those.

The con­di­tions were calm with lit­tle cur­rent, so I de­cided to tar­get this mys­tery school of fish with light tackle – a soft-bait on a half-ounce jig head. Us­ing 6kg line in this type of en­vi­ron­ment can be awe­some fun, be­cause there are some big fish lurk­ing in lo­ca­tions like this and you never know what you’re go­ing to get.

Af­ter work­ing out the di­rec­tion of my drift, I cast out the first soft-bait ahead of the ‘ski. Sure enough, as it dropped through the 25m mark, I started get­ting bites. In sit­u­a­tions like this, it pays to stop the ‘bait’s de­scent and work it at that depth. If you con­tinue to let the lure drop, it will pass through the area where the fish are hold­ing. Con­se­quently, as I had seen the fish on the sounder and the bites had con­firmed their pres­ence, it was worth stick­ing around for a minute to see what hap­pened. I like to work the lure a lit­tle, as if it were on the bot­tom, and if noth­ing hap­pens in the first 20 sec­onds or so, drop down an­other few me­tres and re­peat the process. You will be amazed what can re­sult!

And amazed I was. Some 40m from the bot­tom, on my first drop, I hooked up – and the ini­tial run was a good one, the lit­tle Daiwa Freams 3000 squeal­ing as what­ever had grabbed my bait made its way to­wards the bot­tom. My ini­tial thought was ‘king­fish’, es­pe­cially given its lo­ca­tion in the wa­ter col­umn, but this as­sess­ment quickly changed as the fight pro­gressed. Af­ter a bit of back and forth, the head shakes were feel­ing like a rea­son­able snap­per and, sure enough, that is what it was!

Drop af­ter drop I hooked up to nice-sized snap­per at least 40 me­tres off the bot­tom. Fish­ing light tackle in this depth re­ally

em­pha­sises the fish­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, with some of the runs seem­ingly end­less. In­ter­est­ingly, there were clearly small king­fish in this school as well.

A char­ter boat came and parked next to me af­ter see­ing the ac­tion I was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing, and dropped some live baits down into the school. They were less than 10 me­tres from me and hook­ing up on small king­fish on the live baits, yet the more slowly worked and flut­ter­ing soft-bait was en­sur­ing I en­coun­tered good qual­ity snap­per ev­ery time. And when I de­cided to have a bit of fun with the king­fish, all I had to do was work the soft-bait a lit­tle more er­rat­i­cally, or re­trieve it to the ‘ski a bit faster, and the lit­tle Daiwa reel would soon be scream­ing in protest.

The great thing about these fish was that most could be eas­ily re­leased. Even though I was fish­ing in wa­ter up to 100 me­tres deep, be­cause the fish were be­ing caught so near to the sur­face, their swim blad­ders weren’t too badly af­fected, en­abling them to swim off strongly.

So, when out and about, keep an eye on your sounder and don’t be afraid to try a bit of prospect­ing – you never know what you might find in the depths!

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