Today was Big Game fishing, Brother in law and I went out around 12:30 to join another group of likely lads to see if we could catch any large game fish. Our pickup was 12:30 but when he turned up it was about 12:45, you can expect this and he turned up in a green ute with, green empty forty gallon drum on board and a couple of eskies. He was picking up three people so Brother in law and I took the back, siting in the tray on the gray fluted floor, beside an old blue esky with the white hinges leaching rust down the side. As the truck moved forward, water ran down the flutes an up my bum, my pants were wet before we left. The boat left from Avatiu Harbour which is on the edge of Avarua the main town on Raro.
Our boat Teane Marlin Queen is a second hand 25 foot boat from Tauranga NZ about six months ago was registered to carry 10 people in New Zealand. They set five rods, one for Marlin, one for Mahi Mahi I think and two for Wahoo, or maybe it was three. I wasn’t paying much attention other than he told us that it was Wahoo season and they had a spot right opposite our hotel at Muri Beach beyond the reef they had had a strike this morning. The average wahoo come in around 20kg but we were told they could grow as large as 50 kg and that they were one of the fastest fish in the ocean with a speed of around 80 kph. They said that this morning they had all five rigs go off at once but only managed to land one. It would become very tricky if more than one went off at once as there is only one swivel chair and the rest would need a harness standing on the deck. It looked like this might be very hard work.
On the way out to the “right spot” we discussed all sorts of things fishing, I asked why the baits are trawled close to the boat. We by our fishing guide the reason for this placement of the baits is that bait fish actually congregate under the boat and the wahoo know of this habit and go for the sound of the boat as that is where food is likely found. He told us that a quiet boat is not a lucky boat. The other thing we discussed was the Fish Aggregation Devices (FAD). Currently there is only two of these artificial reefs, but they were putting out another five by the end of the year. The FAD consist of a number of floats that stretch about 25 meters, with old rope, nets and rubbish linking them. Poru, our fishing guide said, anything that would get caught in the nets and the rubbish they collected, creating an environment for creatures to grow and hide. These devices soon get crustaceans around them which in turn attracts the bait fish and that in turn attracts such fish as Mahi Mahi and tuna, this again can attract even larger fish. Very cunning, the FAD last for about five or six-years and cost about $15,000 each, the Department of Marine Resources place these devices off shore between 1 and 3 kilometers and they go down to a depth of up to 1500 meters.
If we had no strikes we would go out to these and see if we could maybe pull some Tuna, it all sounded good. We hit the grounds and almost immediately there was the screech of the line running out first one then two rods, we were on. Our fishing guide Poru jumped down from the flying bridge and started to work the rods, but very soon he was cursing and was clearly unhappy. The fish had taken the bait but not the hock, on two rods. Time to set the rods again and continue the cruise up and down the grounds, we went through this ritual another time and this time the fish that struck made a huge leap and was well out of the water in a classic jump from the tail. But again it did not take the bait cleanly and again we had to reset the lines.
The squalls of rain were coming through regularly and five of us huddled in the cabin as again we turned and did the run. They had given us all a number and if there was a strike that stuck he would call a number and that person got to work the fish. Great plan, I had number 3 and was hoping for the scream of the line would result in my number being called. But after about an hour and half of this strike no fish, strike no fish routine, with the rain and the constant toss of the sea the afternoon was wearing thin. Then it happened, scream, Poru working the rod above on the flying bridge, it was on, it hooked up, he bounced down from the deck barely using the ladder working the real, he call a number. Four, bugger, it was a guy from New Zealand even older than me, called himself a part-time actor.
Set in the seat, instruction were given on how to place the fish, the boat had stopped and we all sat and watched. He was really getting into it, and looked like it was a huge thrill as he let the fish run, then wound in line, let the fish run some more and then reeled it in. Suddenly there was a problem, a join in the fishing line was coming through and the crew were on edge that it might not run through the eyes well on the rod. Phew, relief this was okay, then bang, the line pulled apart at the join and no more fish excitement all over, another one lost.
Talking to the guy who was driving the boat, he said once one of those fish took the line like that, they would be sore and head for somewhere safe down under and the rest of the school would follow them, and that’s about what happened. From that time on we caught no more fish although we trawled a few times back and forth and finally we had to give up and go home.
We got the consolation prize of a couple of good size pieces of Wahoo which we had one night raw as the local fish dish Iki Mata the next night and the night after we carved it into steaks and had it with Wasabi butter, very yum.
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