South­ern com­fort in north

Blokes from Deep South find she’s hard job find­ing per­fect trout and it’s no hon­ey­moon

The New Zealand Herald - - SUPER SPORT - Ge­off Thomas

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

Pic­ture / Ge­off Thomas

Torsten Sand­mark, Mike Smeaton and Craig De­war (far right) share Craig McDon­ald’s de­light with his first king­fish.

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