My mum and brother came to visit from South Africa and the day after they arrived we headed for Doubtless Bay, to spend a few nights at Hihi holiday park. Despite jetlag and whatever, my brother was eager for us to leave early the first morning, but due to some health issues I had to make a stop at the clinic first – nothing to worry about, but had to be done.
Long drive with my mum and brother in the car with me, my wife and some of the kids close behind us, 3 of our sons in the oldest one’s car, grandparents (my in-laws) in their own car and another son and his wife coming through the next day. Quite a procession!
Weather was not good on most days and there was a major storm with 140-160kph winds in other parts of the country that weekend. My brother’s first time fishing from a kayak and he was a bit nervous from the outset, so we took it easy checking the weather all the time. No fishing on the first day.
My brother, over-eager as usual, wanted to launch in the dark on the Friday morning, but I said as it’s his first time on the kayak and as the weather was not ideal, we should at least wait for sunlight!!! I was on my Old Town Predator XL with my 2HP Yamaha outboard on the back and ended up pulling him on my second kayak, an Ocean Kayak Tetra 12. He was quite comfortable on the kayak and looked like a natural. Bought a PFD for him and made sure he had a radio on him.
Well at first the fishing was disappointingly quiet! Moved closer to a boat in the middle of the bay and though we never got anywhere close to him, he had a quick sign-language monologue with us and then pulled up anchor and moved away. We really were NOT close to him. Nothing happening there, so we moved to back closer to land and with a fairly strong wind, aimed to drift parallel to the rocks.
Didn’t take long and my brother landed his first snapper. Well, when I say landed… I mean he brought the fish up next to his kayak and then held it there for quite some time??? He hadn’t caught any fish in 2016 and this was his first time fishing in New Zealand, so I paddled over to congratulate him on his first snapper and yelled at him to net the fish and get it in his kayak!!! Later I learned that he was scared of getting this big fish into the kayak 🙂 We measured it and it was 44cm, so not quite the kayak sinking size 🙂
Anyway, good start for my brother!
Little while later my rod bent over more than I’ve ever seen from the kayak. And this thing wasn’t swimming like a snapper or a kahawai, instead it had these slow, powerful pulses pulling the rod down. Brought it up and I thought I had my first legal kingfish!! Seemed huge to me, but on measuring it, it was only 68cm??? Considerably larger than my one and only previous kingie, but still a not-legal, little rat.
From then on nothing was biting except the irritating leather jackets or squid or whatever was chewing our gulp softbait off. So after a while we headed back to get my brother’s fish out of the sun, both feeling pretty excited with his first snapper, first fish in NZ, first fish with Softbait, first fish from a kayak and my almost legal kingie!
But of course, a fishing trip with The Hopeless Fisherman (and in this case his brother) wouldn’t be complete without some shenanigans… The night before and that morning on the beach I told my brother the first rule of kayak stability is “where your head goes, your body follows”. On the beach I also said that the klabs rod I had lent him didn’t sit well in that kayak’s rod holder, but both my brother and wife said it would be okay when I wanted to go fetch another rod for him… Well, while I was pulling him along with the outboard motor, the rod fell out of the holder and my brother leaned over to grab it and guess what? Where the head goes…I watched my brother rolling into the water in slow motion and push his hand off of my kayak and let go myself just in time so that he didn’t pull me over as well. The other thing I had told my brother was to keep his lap clear at all time and to stow the drogue behind him when not using it, but he had the drogue on his lap still connected to the running rig!! Great formula for disaster!! This was my fault, I should have checked everything before we started moving back.
Anyhow, my brother’s in the water and he seems relatively calm, but he’s busy trying to save the tackle box and whatnot and I say hey, just get yourself back on the kayak!! Only once he tried that, did he realize he’s tangled up in the drogue line and it’s pulling away from the kayak, so he can’t get himself out of it. I can see it’s just stuck to the top of his radio’s aerial, but my kayak’s on the other side of his one and it’s going to take a while to get around the kayak, so out with the knife and cut the running rig. Now he’s free, but after 2 or 3 attempts, the guy’s not getting anywhere close to getting himself back onto the kayak, even with me holding the other side of the kayak down for him. I tell him to try to get up from the front of the kayak, but he’s not eager on trying that and says I should just pull him back to the side.
Moments earlier we had been chasing some birds diving at a workup which was quite far from shore, but fortunately we gave up on that and was now not that far from land. Haha, would have been a quick trip back to land with my 2HP motor if I had the ability to steer the kayak, but put a small kayak rudder up against a 105kg human hanging off the side of the kayak and guess which one wins!!!
Saw my brother’s fish floating past and he wanted me to go fetch it, but I don’t think he realized how serious the situation was!!!
Got my brother hanging dead center at the back of the kayak and was able to steer him in to a little pebble beach for him to get his breath back and only then did he realize how tired he was and what had just happened and I think my 50yo brother with years of experience on boats and fishing almost turned to tears. Back to camp to face the wrath of my wife and mother for getting my brother in trouble!!!
That was the end of ocean fishing for day one. That evening we took the kids fishing at the Mangonui wharf, they had a blast and my brother enjoyed it even more than the kids.
Told the owner at the Hihi park what had happened and he agreed to let my brother use a little tiny, but warned that it was leaking water so he should stay within the Hihi bay area. Got up early the next morning, put the 2HP on the tiny with my brother and one of my sons on there and me in my kayak behind them. I landed 3 snapper in the mid 30’s and a nice kahawai and my son landed a 48cm snapper and my brother… well, my brother had started what was to be a streak of bad luck fishing when he threw his first snapper overboard the day before.
Wind was horrible and they had to bail out quite a bit of water from the leaking tiny, so no more fishing that day. We bought some silicone and fixed up the tiny, but that would only be dry enough the next morning, so around 6pm I set out with my kayak on my own and by 8pm I had landed 5 snapper between 40 and 48cm.
Next day my brother was in a non-leaking tiny with the 2HP and I was on my kayak and we had big expectations and the day started well for me. I landed my first snapper and it wasn’t long before my brother pointed to a very small bubbling of water not far from us. I paddled over and told him to follow and I caught 1 kahawai before the boil-up disappeared. A little while later it was to the side of me again and I landed a second kahawai, but each time the boil-up/workup was just on the far side for my brother and he didn’t get to it in time with the tiny. I ended up with 3 decent sized kahawai and one snapper. Went out a second time and I landed a single 40cm snapper with my brother still empty-handed at around 9pm, though my brother mentioned that he saw a squid following his softbait up to the boat. All I needed to hear, so I went home to have a bite to eat and get my lights to try to target some squid while my brother cut up one of my kahawai as bait and changed jigs for stinkbait fishing in the dark. Floated around for a long time and I caught a few piper with my net while waiting for the squid!!! and finally my brother manager to land 2 decent sized snapper! My brother is a pastor back in South Africa and have a lot more people following him on Facebook than I had. Knowing that he’s a keen fisherman who’s had a bad year last year and now a streak of bad luck in New Zealand, there was a LOT of social pressure for the poor guy to catch something. Midnight the night before going home and the two of us having been on the water for 14 hours over 3 trips just that last day!!, he finally saved his reputation!!!
Weather was not ideal, but I must be honest, I had hoped for a little more fish and a few larger specimens when fishing in the Far North for the first time. Nonetheless, I hadn’t gone out nearly as often or a far out as I would have if I was on my own, so I can see another trip there probably on my own in the near future.