A trip we did in the first week of October this year will forever be etched in my memory banks. Sydneysiders Dave, Eden, Waz and John booked a five day trip for Dave’s stag duo a good year ago. There is a little saying about no expectations, total satisfaction and when the guys jumped on board on Day One admitting they were a little nervous and didn’t really know what to expect having not done a lot of fishing, I smiled a little bit to myself – righto, time to blow their mind!
The guys had hit the jackpot, not often you can line up five days straight of perfect weather but the forecast was just that - Monday to Friday 5-10 knots every day. The weather gods were smiling, it looked like we were going to get all five days in, not often that happens on a week long trip.
And when we arrived at the Aldermen Pins, the fishing gods seemed to be smiling too. Waz was railed first drift on a green and gold hoodlum hell bent on giving him a good introduction on what lay ahead over the next five days. It came in without messing around the devoured the livebait we had set 40m below the boat. With the Stella’s drag cranked up it picked him off his feet and dragged him into the corner, the rod tip down to the waterline then the reel started howling “Lift the rod, drop and get a wind on him bro, don’t let him peel any more line or he’ll have you in the reef” Typical of spring fishing as soon as one person was hooked up, the kingfish would start to compete and soon enough Dave was on as well, an angry spring fish hammering his Pink JM rocket on the JM350 and PE7 reel. Right from the word go the guys had to be on to it to avoid tangling and busting each other and were soon ducking under each other with rods fully loaded and a skipper barking instructions. Good times!
Waz did some hard yards the adrenaline helping him along, this fish bigger than any he had tangled with before, pretty soon it was worked to the boat, and Waz did all he good to keep his shaky legs together, as I planted a solid kingfish in his arms for a photo he started resembling Elvis, his leg doing spasms, “you just doing the kingi dance bro, or we need to hold you up?” By the end of Day One all the boys had got what they came for having all tangled with plenty of quality kings.
The bait kept stacking up on the sounder and by 1pm on Day Two the sounder was chocka, big kingi marks showing either side of the bait school on the Raymarine, the baits being set just at the top of the bait school. One of our last drifts saw a double of fish in the 20kg mark which had hammered the livebaits, then John got absolutely hammered on the broken arrow jig he was working above the livebaits, only when the other boys had their photos taken and released their fish and John was till playing his kingfish with plenty of weight there did we realize it was a huge fish, the reel had been pushed to sunset thankfully on the first run and all had held together, pretty soon 1.38 m of kingfish came to the boat, well over the 30kg mark.
By the end of Day Two all the boys had felt the insane power of some of the worlds strongest fish, John topping the 30kg mark, and all the lads topping 20kg, the guys had to call in a lay day and spend a day soaking the bones at the hot springs in Whitianga. Not often I get guys calling a lay day in 5 knots of wind but the guys were shattered. In hindsight it was probably a good thing as they still had a lot of work ahead of them!
After two days where jigs and livebaits were working pretty well in tandem the kingfish switched to just eating livebaits and our third morning on the water Eden felt the power of another huge fish which just smashed a livie at 50m and almost had him to 100m on the reef in seconds. He did an awesome job stopping it and another fish pushing the 30kg mark made it up for a photo and release. That sort of marked the tail end of the bite at the Aldies and so I made the call to plane up to the Mercs for the afternoon to see what was happening up there. We arrived to find marks everywhere on the sounder, and quad hookups of 12-15kg kingfish were the norm every drift, we had one of the maddest afternoons ever, capped off when Waz nailed a 9kg snapper on a deep set softbait - another exceptional day. With the fish I was seeing on the sounder a little idea sparked off in my head….”right guys here are the options for the last day tomorrow, either we go and put the time in for another couple of monsters at the Aldies, on livies or we come here to Crackerjack and shoot for 100 kingfish on jigs in a day.” The guys had a puzzled look on their faces “You really think we can get 100 fish in one day?”
The next morning I picked the guys up at the normal time and at 7am we were planing towards Cuvier from Tairua, quite a haul, and I did wonder what I was thinking the odds were stacked against us, especially after all the previous days excitement I now had four very hungover Australians asleep in various corners of the boat. We arrived at Crackerjack reef and four rods were all set ready to drop, spare jigs, leaders and assist hooks laid out and a scorecard ready at the helm. “Wakeup fellas time to go to work.” I drove round and found the same sign we were seeing the day before and first drop we had a triple on, and they were all solid fish, Waz getting a spanking on one side of the boat on the Stella, the skipper yelling to lift the rod and keep the braid off the rail , John and Dave getting dealt to on the other. Let the games begin!
By the end of the first hour the boys had nailed 20 quality fish, most of the morning I was looking back with three or four rods bent to the water and various pitches of squeels coming from the reels and anglers. By 12pm the boys had caught and released 57 fish. Eden and John were fishing with the same Blue Broken Arrow jig which was outfishing anything else. There were plenty of bustoffs and cursing through the day, the sounder kept delivering the goods and every time we found the fish they would all be stacked up about 10 fish high and it was very rare to get a single hook up, usually they were usually quadswith fish going round each other more often than not, and being hooked high in the water column they would take off on opposite angles, so much for the easy life of chartering…this was utter chaos!! The majority of fish we released boatside, simply by holding the fish under the chin and unhooking them, the odd fish we brought in for a quick pic for the days photo album.
“Man this is just crazy, f***, I can’t believe it, somebody slap me!” Eden muttered in a delusional state. Five days ago Eden had stepped aboard admittedly a little nervous about what was in store for him having not fished for five years, now he was slaying quality fish every drop.” Noone back home is going to belive I caught 25 big fish like this in one day”.
In the morning the boys were a little dubious about whether they would even get close to 100 fish but by 2pm the reality set in, John who was on 28 fish by this time muttered “Shit, we really are going to get 100 fish aren’t we…..”
Eden was the first to crack 30 fish and it also marked the 100th fish for the day, all on the same 350 Kojack Jigstar rod, Daiwa Z40 and Broken Arrow jig, he was out for the count, and cracked open a well deserved beer, John hit 30 next drop and Dave and Waz both made it to 21 fish and with plenty of daylight left the boys could realistically have made it to 150 fish but they all called a mutiny and said right Carl you want anymore fish you got to catch them yourself. I motored back up to the sign slapped the boat in reverse, dropped a jig, and got my arms torn off by a feisty 12kg fish to clock up the 103rd for the day. That had my back and arms hurt enough…”geez wouldn’t want to do that again…time to head for Tairua fellas!”