On the hunt for a bill

The lure of game fishing has been something that over the last few years we’ve always amped ourselves up about, the warm water licking down our coastlines bringing with it the nutrient rich waters that our illusive quarry inhabits following the currents from its long trip from more tropical waters. Year by year we’ve honed our skills, researched our target and genuinely tried our best to have a shot at one of these beautiful fish, however the stars aligned on this day and little did we know what was about to happen. Saturday morning we rigged up joker and you could feel the excitement in the air as not only was it our first trawl of the season but Alana’s first trip game fishing, on the drive out we weren’t expecting much, the comments of its hours of boredom for seconds of madness echoed in the truck as we wound our way through the hills to little huia. It was two hours before the high as day brake broke and we dipped her in the drink and went to park up the truck, this morning I had a good feeling the thoughts of something was going to happen as I walked back down the beach to the boat, jumped in and we were away, life jackets on and called out to coastguard as we traversed the bar, it was sloppy but tolerable and pretty soon we were out on the other side pointing the nose west bound as we searched for some bait.

Stoped in 40m and the sounder was alive, and upon dropping down some Sabikis in hopes of a few livies for that just in case moment we quickly put a few in the tank and proceeded north west, at around 80m that deep opal blue water surrounded the boat, well that was enough inventive so get the gear, riggers went up and dredge went out, we ran a mixed spread and in no way were we expecting what was going to happen but we thought just in case we’ll run a bonze light gauge marlin spread on two talica 25s and two trynos 50w combos with a few small tuna lures on bungees. Once we hit the 100m mark north of the bar we decided to follow the swell in a southerly direction to get a better run with the gear, the spread looked good, popping as expected and the dredge sat perfectly in the window on the face of the wave, in the distance towards a pair of tuna boats dad calls a free jumper so we angle out our towards that area maybe 1-2 miles away. The second by second play back of these next moments are still imprinted in my mind, an ominous click ringed off on my left side as I turn my head I see the short rigger has popped and is tightening up to the talica combo alana got me for Christmas as it buckled over and starts to scream. FISH ON!

In seconds we were at our posts clearing gear as more and more line dumped off the little 25w, once the gear was in we spun joker around and chased it down regaining back 400m of line and catching up to my 24kg top shot, now running light gauge we had the drag up to about 6kg and with such a small manoeuvrable boat we were pretty quickly able to get it up to the wind on leader however that wasn’t going to be the first time we saw that leader during that fight, every time we got it close to the boat the fish would roll and current push us over the top of the fish meaning we were to back off and do another rotation and get it back up again, at the one hour mark I was failing, heat exhaustion and frustration had kicked in and I tagged in the old boy to take over so I can get some hydration and some time on the wheel, thinking back now it’s quite fitting that we both got to have a turn on our first fish for the boat.

The next hour was gruelling, an almost vertical battle not being able to put much pressure on the fish however doing wide circles around it slowly planning it up to to within striking range, finally the fish made the wrong move and rolled the wrong was giving me a chance to grab the leaded and slowly direct him to a position where the gaff could be sunk home, Stuck it in and grabbed the bill with a swift welcoming ceremony it was all over, and we dragged it over the side, joker is on the board! The team worked as a well oiled machine, everything was so natural considering it was such a foreign experience for our crew, everyone was composed, what an amazing introduction to game fishing for Alana.

The fish took a lure I’ve always ran in our spread looking very skippy like it’s a bonze “the heat” in sky fall pattern, on a bonze light gauge single hook rig 200lb leader with 100m 24kg top shot, 600m 80lb hollow ace and the combo was a talica 25 2 speed on an abyss 24kg stand up game rod. Well this fish was a long time coming, 4 years ago we started our gamefish journey encountering our share of bill fish however none ever managed to cross the line, this story ain’t just what you see it’s a chapter in what is to come, as one page closes another begins and the allure continues as we gaze forward to see what happens next.

Here’s to the rest of the 2018 season

Michael Walkley – Joker FC 560cc