Southern comfort in north
Blokes from Deep South find she’s hard job finding perfect trout and it’s no honeymoon
Take four good, keen young blokes from Dunedin and put them on a boat on Lake Tarawera — and watch out. Well, the drama started before the trout rods hit the water for the team leader, Craig Dewar, actually returned from his honeymoon in Thailand and arrived in Auckland on the Friday night. His mates were already in Rotorua, ready to chase some trout and were expecting to pick him up from the airport at 8am on Saturday while his new bride returned to Dunedin.
But bad weather meant Rotorua airport was closed last Saturday morning, so Craig finally arrived lakeside late morning after taking a bus from Hamilton and picking up the rental car which had been left at Rotorua airport.
And a fishing trip is supposed to be simple, without the complications of a honeymoon.
But southern boys are not easily dissuaded and they were determined to make up lost ground, which involved pulling trout after trout in while suffering shouted instructions from their host to “Stop winding! Let the fish run! Don’t pull on the rod — it’s not a blue cod!”
It always takes a convincing approach to transform salt water rod yankers to subtle trout anglers, for trout fishing is a gentle pastime.
The line is thin monofilament and the rods are light wands, hooks are small and sharp and the skin around a trout’s mouth is easily torn.
When a fish makes a sudden lunge 30 metres from the boat the 20 per cent stretch in the mono line absorbs the shock, but when at the boat with two metres of line there is no room for error.
The rod must be held high like a giant spring, the tension on the reel’s drag reduced so the fish can dart away. Then the fish must be led to the net with the angler guiding the rod, and it must be on its side on the surface before the net is deployed.
More fish are lost by the boat than at any other time be it a marlin, a tuna, a trout or a kingfish. The boys took heed of the advice and there were no foul-ups, apart from one extra keen net handler who leaned over a bit too far but still managed to net the fish while swimming in the lake.
The natural hot water across the lake proved irresistible to the visitors and family groups enjoying a relaxing dip were treated to some extreme rock jumping and tree climbing as the exuberant fishermen let off steam in the lake, and in the trees.
Monday saw the southern boys climbing aboard one of the Seahawk charter boats at Westhaven to complete the trifecta — trout, snapper and maybe kingfish.
Captain Lenny Rameka knows where to find snapper and as the team motored past the superyachts lined up by the tank farm the weekend’s torrential downpours eased. Even sunglasses were needed as the Hauraki Gulf emerged from the gloom and preened itself.
Rameka is just about as hard a taskmaster as the trout skipper, and a jerk of the rod in response to a bite brought a slap on the wrist.
“Let the fish chew on it. They will hook themselves on the recurved hooks,” he explained.
He showed the good, keen lads how to push the cube of cut pilchard up inside the bend of the hook and roll the point around so it passed under the backbone, ensuring the bait stayed with the hook a little longer.
The two baited hooks are quickly pulled down to the sea bed 35 metres away by the 10-ounce sinker. Funny how a lot of the world is metric, but when it comes to fishing sinkers are still measured in ounces.
“Hold the rod with the tip pointing down so the line runs out faster,”
he explained. “When it stops, lift the rod to pull the sinker out of the mud, then lower is slowly until it rests on the bottom, but keep the line tight. See,” he added as the rod suddenly bent.
It took a while for the boys to master the technique, but then it clicked and fish started coming over the side.
Kahawai are a nuisance in this situation. Nobody seems to want them, which is a shame for they are fine fighting fish deserving of respect. However, they do tend to swim around the boat and tangle lines, but when Craig McDonald bent over and struggled with a powerful fish Lenny immediately told all others to pull in their lines.
“Walk around the back of the boat, and follow the line,” he told Craig. “That is no kahawai.” Sure enough, after a serious struggle there was a flash of silver and a kingfish was splashing around the stern.
“Keep it away from the motor!” yelled Lenny, then he grabbed the trace and hoisted the fish aboard.
Craig was over the moon. His first kingfish, and it easily passed the one metre length which allowed him to take it back to Dunedin.
Two smaller kings and a few kahawai went back before the fish bin held enough snapper for the boys to take plenty of fillets home, along with fat rainbows from Lake Tarawera and a few stories and bruises from leaping into the hot water. WINTER OLYMPICS
Torsten Sandmark, Mike Smeaton and Craig Dewar (far right) share Craig McDonald’s delight with his first kingfish.