Alex Broad – Andrew Marshall made an awesome captain.
We had just returned from a week of saltwater fly fishing, I was going through all the photos and video footage, and it dawned on me that I didn’t have a single photo of Andrew Marshall holding a fish. Now I thought this was weird, all the rest of us caught fish. Turns out he was so determined to get everybody else onto fish before he had a crack, the fishing was super hard and we simply ran out of time before he got have a decent go at it. What a good bugger. Thanks Andrew, you made an awesome skipper, maybe next time someone else can drive the boat……
Andrew Marshall, Andrew Sturt and myself set off for an epic saltwater fly fishing adventure late one Saturday night. The plan was to drive up the line to Tauranga, with Andrews Dad’s boat, for a week of chasing anything that swims in the sea on fly. After a less than desirable start, auto sparky wired the brakes up wrong, we made it to Taupo, slept on the edge of the lake rather poorly, then pushed through to Tauranga in the morning. Lucas came over from Hamilton that morning and before long we had the boat sorted, made friends with the local residents at the motor camp and had done a bit of exploring in the upper harbour close to our accommodation. A rather lethargic afternoon followed with the consumption of a few brews and a good feed whipped up on the BBQ.
The next day, well, it rained. But that didn’t stop us, we threw popper after popper at all the markers in the channels, nothing doing. Off into the upper harbour, still a bit rough out wide, nothing doing up there either. Finally back at the harbour entrance, kahawai working the surface. We eased into it with a small one,
Then a bigger one,
It was just good to finally put a bend into a rod,
The next day was a cracker, out wide early, sea calm and glassy, not a kingie in any of Andrews spots. This was to set the scene for the elusive kingie for the rest of the trip. However before long we were greeted with a small school of Skippies moving through, in very very shallow water. We weren’t used to the fast moving nature of the tuna and couldn’t connect. New spot, still no kingies, few kahawai on the surface and huge schools of blue mao mao sipping. These guys were hard work, very very fussy following tiny flies right to boat before turning away. We gave up eventually and found another school of skippies working over a rise. The sea was so calm and flat that we struggled to get in front of the school and get close enough for a cast without them going down. Kahawai were the consolation prize here,
Giving up on these guys we headed for the harbour, only for the wind to come up and us finding several small schools of skippies working the shallow water close to the harbour entrance. This time we connected, the chopped up surface seemed to make all the difference. A few landed on trolling gear, and just one landed on fly by lucas,
Several others were hooked on fly, but totally unprepared for how hard they run we lost them. Mostly pulled hooks with the odd bust off, the importance of having your flyline neatly coiled in the boat with no tangles became second nature.
The next day we had a crack at a few more skippies, again Lucas landing the only one on fly.
The rest of us either pulling hooks, busting tippets or hooking into “Tuna” for them to turn into Kahawai at the boat. However, we had kept a handful of kahawai and a few skippies for something a little more adventurous. It was SHARK TIME!
This has been a minor obsession of mine for a while, after I popped my couta cherry the next most logical step was to have a crack at something bigger with bigger teeth. I had done my research and thought I had it dialed, Chum up, Mako’s turn up, tease, cast fly, set hook, hold on. Sounds easy, however none of this went to plan. We rigged up Andrews 14 weight, shooting head, running line, 500+ meters of backing all on a super grunty bluewater reel. Heavy butt section in the leader, wire tippet section to a tube fly of my own design and a big dirty 9/0 long shank hook.
Chum went in, 10 mins later, Bronzy of around 2.5 – 3m turns up, fish frames pulled out so he didn’t eat them (think this was more of a nervous reaction on my behalf) and the shark spooks. Right we know they are here, how the hell are we going to hook one then land it? Well we all fly by the seats of our pants, so we just figured we would worry about that when the time came. The waiting game commenced,
A tide change and about an hour later we soon had several bronze whaler sharks circling the boat, building up confidence to come in to the chum. Finally a little fella of around 100kg had a swipe at the fish frames, this seemed to signal to the rest of them “get into it!” I was very very nearly not going to throw the cast, however the boys told me too, and I didn’t want to loose face. So I manned up and started throwing a fly in the sharks general direction.
After a minor feeding frenzy off the back of the boat, no fish frames left for obvious reasons, our new mates were hunting round looking for more, another cast was made, the fly sunk slowly into the sharks line of sight, the angler (me) shaking like a leaf, was dead silent apart from “Lucas mate, can you please hang on to the back of my life jacket? I really don’t want to end up in there with them” line tightens, I pull back, no effect, shark is off like a steam train, straight back towards the swimming beach he had just come from. I get Andrew Marshall to tighten the drag for me, as all I can do at this stage is swear and hang on to what I think is a mediocre sized Bronze whaler, increase in drag has no effect, after a brief time of me+14 weight fly rod vs shark the line went slack. The wind of shame ensued, thankfully the running line was still attached to the backing, more winding and the shooting head came through guides, more winding and the leader was visible, better still my wire tippet was still there, what happened? well I had some of that fancy knot able wire leader stuff, turns out its real hard to actually tie good enough knots in it cause it stretches like you wouldn’t believe. Mental note: stick to normal single strand wire and haywire twists……….
We re rigged with a new fly of a new colour, the sharks were still hanging round, however they all came up to the fly for an inspection then denied it right off the ends of their noses. Exciting stuff, sight fishing for 150kg sharks and having them refuse your presentation, kinda like back country fly fishing, only the fish is a damn sight bigger, there’s no way in hell you are wet wading and you definitely wont be posing with your catch. This was enough shark action for me, still shaking like a leaf, cat had my tongue and the boys were ribbing the crap out of me. I managed to get out “how big do you reckon that thing was?” The boys said this “It was the big one, I dont know, maybe 200kg, 180 – 200kg”
Trying to calm the nerves,
We don’t have any more shark pics, but there is some pretty crazy video footage to come……….
The next day was a ripper, so it was out wide to have a crack at a marlin. This was what Andrew Marshall had come for, a crack at a Marlin on fly.
Sadly we couldn’t raise any to the lures, however we did find loads of skippies and practised our tease and switch on them trolling hookless tuna lures. This was awesome fun but again hard to stay connected to the tuna. Andrew Sturt had lost alot of skippies on fly by this stage and hadn’t landed one, his frustration showed with phrases like “Nows not a good time to tease me guys”.
Heading towards home we jigged over some pinnacles to try find some kings, Andrew Sturt managed to hook a couple of rats and land one,
14wt deployed again this time for kings, with no reaction. Drift after drift we failed to raise anything on either the jigs or the fly despite the sounder showing good kingy sign.
Heading for home I spotted a school of tuna busting up, we get close, I throw a fly and it finds the mouth of a tuna, a long dogged fight and I finally manage to land my first tuna on fly, glad to get that monkey off my back.
The Andrews had a few casts, both hooking up but nothing landed.
Our last day on the water was a damp one, we packed up all our gear and checked out of the motor camp, one of the old timers who we had made friends with came to see us off in the morning with the warning “Be careful out there today guys, the weather man said there are going to be RAIN BOMBS!”
Back on the water and back to our favorite tuna grounds, it was lumpy, but we thought it was doable. After plenty of attempts and a few false kahawai starts, Andrew Sturt was firmly hooked into a good skippy, a long scrap and finally it was netted, much to Andrews relief.
We tried our hardest to get Andrew Marshall hooked up, but it wasn’t to be his day.
Boat on trailer and we thought we were off, we soon noticed brake fluid leaking out of the reservoir on the trailer. Off to the mechanics and they fixed it up real good. We were off again Wellington bound we thought, only to stop at the gas station to find smoke pouring off one of the brakes on the trailer. We spent the rest of the day figuring out what the problem was and how we were going to fix it or at least get the trailer back to the mechanics. Finally we managed to jack 4 odd tonnes of boat and trailer up enough to remove the tire and offending brake caliper. We hobbled back into to Tauranga to drop the trailer and boat off to the mechanic, he stayed open for us on a friday afternoon, what a good bugger, thanks heaps to the good dudes at Steve Long Automotive, we can highly recommend their service.
4 guys, close to 40 fishing rods, god only knows how many flies, lines and reels. Not a single broken fly rod despite our best attempts, however there were many lost flies and busted leaders. I was testing some new high end Riverworks Fly rods and reels. What can I say, I put the hurt on the fish with the rods, the reels stopped them in their tracks, neither had any performance issues and I cast the set ups long and hard all day for 5 days. The only issue was that I wind with my left hand, it was pretty funny watching the boys pick my rods, hook into a fish and reach for a handle that wasn’t there………Pretty sure I was the only one laughing.
So as I write this there is a boat still in Tauranga packed full of fishing gear that needs picking up, couldn’t really ask for a better excuse for round 2 now could we…………………….
This entry was posted on February 24, 2012 by Alex Broad. It was filed under Salt Water, Trip Reports and was tagged with Alex Broad, Big Fish, Fly, Fly Fishing, Fly fishing gear, Fly Fishing New Zealand, Fly tying, Lucas Allen, New Zealand, New Zealand Fly Fishing, New Zealand Fly Fishing Guide, Riverworks, Riverworks Lifestyle, Sight Fishing, Trophy, Wellington.