Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fishing the Bay of Islands

This trip to the Bay of Islands is the longest fishing expedition we have attempted - 10 days from Westhaven to Westhaven, via the Bay of Islands. So lots of sailing time and lots of fishing time - in the deep water!

Tutukaka Marina
Tutukaka Marina stop-over on the way up to the Bay of Islands.

The Preparation


Little jobs done: lights checked, forestay tightened, safety gear checked - off to the floating dock for a bottom clean - whats this? the normally reliable 20HP Bukh wont start!! Closer inspection showed a blown head gasket - three weeks to go - and thanks to Andy and the guys at The Engine Room we were all good to go with time to spare.

Fishing gear - well if you are going up to the Bay of Islands then you need the right gear! Full inventory required... from hooks to sinkers and all between, rods, reels, gaff, baitboard... the list did 'blossom' a little. We ended up with 11 rods between us, enough lures, jigs, softbait, salted bait, frozen bait and berley to feed the fish of the southern ocean...
...and the correct number of sinkers.

We weren't quite sure WHAT the correct number actually was - so Roger made over 5KG in his back yard in various weights and shapes, and brought them over in his luggage from Australia. Customs Officer: "And what's all this then?" - "Um, we're going fishing in the Bay of Islands..." CO: Eyes rolling "Are you returning to Australia afterwards?", "Yes", CO: "Very good... move along please" [Or something like that].

Beer: Epic of course! Plus some other stuff to ensure that the Epic tasted great - oh and Guinness - fresh fish, Guinness, pickled onions, crackers and cheese... heaven.

Going Up


We decided that we would go up in 3 days: the first day up to Mansion House Bay, Kawau (around 30 miles); the second to Tutukaka (about 65 miles) and with an early start, Cape Brett by lunchtime (nearly 30 miles) and into the fishing. We had a light breeze from the southeast and managed the gennaker on a couple of occasions. Tutukaka marina was home for the night, and we enjoyed an excellent dinner ashore at the Marina Pizzeria. The run to Cape Brett the next day turned into 5 hrs motoring as the wind had come around to the north and was very light.


We strung a lure out the back of course and had a couple of strikes before hooking into a large Barracouta. You can see the lure has a few toothmarks on it. The next hit took out the lure completely - and after all that prep, we only had one trolling lure... go figure. Its hard to help the fisherman when you are doing 8 knots with the gennaker up and you hook something.

Fish and No Fish


Day 3 and we are fishing at last! Two lovely snapper caught just outside Deep Water Cove, where the Canterbury is a dive wreck. This trip was already shaping up as a 'species' tour, as we also managed a Kahawai, Moray Eel, Conger Eel, Scorpionfish, Kingfish, Trevally, Sweep, Yellowtail, and Spotty.

First day of fishing a good start. Overnight in Oke Bay was good - but there were squadrons of some fly that kamikazied into the dinner as we were trying to cook it. Tasty though. Next day the wind that should be from the northeast is south east and starting to blow. We decided to find a place that was sheltered back up by the Canterbury. Not very eventful - however, on moving, I managed a small cartwheel in the cockpit, landing on the tiller and producing a large split. Perhaps our trip to Opua would be sooner than we thought.


Split tiller, which could not take much weight at all. So started our first day in captivity while we had the tiller repaired at Ashby's Boatyard. A fine job done gluing and screwing it back to safety. Good excuse for a shower or two, and a real coffee...

Well - we were away again and hunting through the SpotX book for sure fishing spots - and with the wind now southwest and 20 knots, sheltered. Well I'm not sure where the fish were - evading us... just a million Sweep attacking our baits like mad things, and a couple of Kahawai - always welcome.

Heading back


As we were so far from home and the weather reportedly packing up... we decided that we would head back to Tutukaka. Same idea... a stop-over in the marina and on to Kawau the following day. The trip down to Tutukaka was exciting - with a reef in the main and the headsail half furled and hiding behind the main, we were in 11 knot territory - good for a 30ft Lotus 9.2 cruising yacht. Into the safety of the marina and the weather worsened. We ended up having a lay-over in Tutukaka - good excuse for dinner at the Angling Club and a draught or two.

Next day the wind had died a bit and we set off for Kawau - the roughly "65 mile day". All went well, with the fun of another barracouta on a speed jig that we trailed and a pod of dolphins that stayed with us for 3 hours.


Hard to photograph with the digital camera - click the button and pause and 'shot' and meanwhile dolphin has gone under again... they played on the bow mostly, with some jumping and splashing - not quite up to Marineland standards.

Back in Home Waters


Back in Kawau Bay we had about an hour and a half to do some fishing before dark - 4 nice snapper in the 32-35cm size. It proved to us that we didn't need to go so far away from home to catch fish.

Still watching the weather, the Saturday was billed on all reports as 25knots rising to 30 gusting 40knots. So we had breakfast in Mansion House Bay and headed for Westhaven. Well we ended up putting the motor on again the wind was so light - and we could see the Spring Regatta fleet heading down past Rangitoto and Motutapu Islands struggling to get any real progress. Their wind did come in eventually - by that time we were home, showered and planning the next trip.

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