Sea Fishing Kapiti – My First Day

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Pukerua Bay looking back towards the boat ramp

I have always wanted to try sea fishing yet have never really thought I had the time to try it out – let alone wonder what mysteries are awaiting to gobble me up from the deep blue. Sure I have done the odd chartered trip when I was a young boy however never a trip using my own boat and my own knowledge of fishing to catch fish. I must admit now that I am in-fact a fly fisherman and have absolutely no knowledge of sea fishing. Yet how hard can it be? you put large pieces of bait, drop the line over board and haul in fish with large rods. So I have decided to attempt Sea Fishing and what better place to do it but on the Kapiti Coast. I decided to write this blog from an amateur point of view and let others know how I get along… so got any tips? I’ll be sure to give them a try..

My First Day
I own a small 2 person Zodiac Boat, it has a metal haul with blow up sides and a 15 hp motor. It gets us around nicely on lakes yet we haven’t ever tried it out on the sea. So this was going to be an interesting test. My brother was going to be the other person trying this out with me, he had a small amount of sea fishing experience and also some general knowledge from watching a few of the fishing shows. We were sussed, we had the large tackle rods equip with 15kg line, hooks, sinkers, UHF radios, life jackets, yes we had everything. Using some of my brothers knowledge we decided to find some shelfish (apparently an early sea fishing boat ride with his friends they caught heaps on shelfish). It was the Thursday just before Waitangi Day we decided to head out at 5pm down to Pukerua Bay. Pumping up the Zodiac and putting the motor on we were on our way to our first sea fishing experience. We filled our boat with allour gear and the little space we had left we jumped into it. I took the oars and we headed out. Bang, we got stuck on a submerged rock. Knowing that every person in there beach homes are staring and laughing at our very amateurish mistake, i did some quick back paddling and decided to launch just of the boat ramp. Now there is a marker out of the boat ramp and coming from a lake fishing background we decided it must be marking rocks. So we headed slightly away from it and out to the left… I paddled out till it was deep enough to drop the motor. With a couple of tugs on the motor we managed to get it going. Heading out we noticed that the water seemed to get shallower and shallower – well it felt like that. We dodged rocks and had seaweed hit the motor attempting to workout how the other boats get out. I questioned whether the pole was in fact showing a possible boating channel but by that stage the water got deeper and the rocks disappeared. It was a eary feeling been out in the sea, the boat seemed to shrink and this is a boat which wasn’t large in the first place. This still didn’t stop our eagerness so we puttered around till we found a spot not to far of the rocks, there seemed to be a lot of kelp around so we thought this must be a good place. We put on the largest sinkers we had and baited our hooks, which were these really sparkly snapper rigs. I got mine onto the water first and decided to cast just of the back of the boat. Straight away my line sunk to the bottom and whack I had what must have been the biggest fish ever. Well that’s what I thought. After a few big tugs it was obvious that my line was stuck in what I can only assume was kelp. A few seconds later my brothers line also found the same fate as mine. After some big pulling our lines snapped off and so did the snapper rigs and large sinkers. I must admit at this time we were feeling just a bit downbeat. We started questioning our tactics and actually how much we knew. We decided to move from this spot, only problem was that the anchor was also wedged into the kelp. However withsome boat manoeuvring and muscle we managed to pull it up. Our conclusion was that if we get the wrong spot in the sea, we are in for an unforgiving time. With the sun starting to get low, We moved away from the rocks and the kelp and decided to try a spot that was more towards the boating channel. We decided to use the smallest sinkers we had and try just letting the bait do a lot of the work. This spot felt much better, so with higher hopes we dropped the anchor and baited our new rigs, which consisted of two plain hooks and a small sinker. We burlied up the water using a lot of the pippies and also some cat food. Dropping our line it felt much better, there was no snagging and I could feel the sea bottom and best of all I got bites. Whack the rod had a slight bend in it however t must be a large fish – were my thoughts at the time. So I pulled it up, winding and winding then WHACK, my swivel hits my top eyelet. On the hook was a brown reef fish of some sort, it had dark brown strips on it, no longer than 25cm. Been a kind soul I put it back and started thinking perhaps this is all we will get in water that would be no more than 5m deep. Time past and quite a few small reef fish including a scorpion fish of some sort, it was orange and spiky, but all were small.

Orange Spikey Fish

We started getting some smaller nibbles which felt different from the reef fishing we were catching. I managed to hook one and pulled it up. It was a small blue cod. We were so excited with this catch as this was a target species which are great eating. However this one was well under size so we put it back and it swam off quickly… we got so excited – finally something other than these little reef fish. An hour went past and the sun was getting very low on the horizon with little activity our excitement had turned to boredom. We started concluding that there wasn’t much down there and this wasn’t working – we started to question why we were even out here… but I think there is something inside of us which keeps us fixed to our fishing rod – just one more cast, just another 10mins. Not saying it to each other but knowing that we are both feeling it – perhaps its time to call it a day. I know we haven’t got a fish for dinner but we did catch a few small fish and did get a cod… with this in my head my brother suddenly gets a large “Whack” and his rod started darting in all directions – under the boat, around the boat, over my line…. panicked I knew this was more than just another reef fish so I winded my line up and got the swivel caught in the eyelet again, but there was no time to think about that. I threw my fishing rod down with no regard to the fact it had hooks on it and we had air filled pontoons on our zodiac which were waiting for a puncture. I grabbed the net and with all my knowledge of netting trout we eased the fish into the net, not rushing it. In hindsight I think we could have just lifted it into the boat, however this was our first fish of any size. Getting it into the bottom of the boat it flapped around like anything – is it a king fish? I questioned…. No it was a Kahawai. This is a very underrated fish and from our trout fishing background I can’t imagine a more fun fish to play – Well that’s what I have concluded so far. We quickly put the Kahawai out of its misery and were very happy with ourselves. We had a fish for dinner. Our first real sea fish caught all by ourselves. This really made our day – I know its not a big fish to catch first up such as a snapper or trevally however it really made our day and also more importantly gave me the boost to really push and master sea fishing. We read somewhere that you need to bleed the Kahawai straight away, so we took its head off virtually straight away and filled our fish container with sea water. We also read somewhere that sea fish need to be kept in salt water and not fresh water. Later for dinner we had the Kahawai crumbed. It was overly large in size so it was a nice side dish. It was very tasty and I can’t see why not more people eat this fish its really nice. From our background in trout fishing we also talked about releasing the larger Kahawai which are the breeding stock and only keeping the smaller ones. I always believe its good to think of how to enjoy fishing sustainably – I know it sounds a bit green but its more something which I believe in to maintain and keep populations high for the future.

Conclusions:

It was a pleasurable few hours we had spent on our first sea fishing trip, not hugely productive yet fun enough for me to want to continue. It will not be as easy as I first thought, catching targeted species such as snapper and cod will take some experimenting. What I have learnt from today’s fishing is that pippies and shellfish really stir up the reef fish. You get Kahawai on reefs and that launch a boat at Pukerua Bay is not easy for beginners never been out there before. I will always just give myself that extra 10mins in a spot rather than moving when i feel there aren’t any fish. Where I can see real skill is learning how and where to fish different areas for different species – something which will be a huge challenge but something I’m looking forward to. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings, with my first full day of sea fishing. We are thinking of coming back to pukerua bay – weather permitting.

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