Text: Alan Bulmer Images: Paul Smith, Tim Bulmer
I’ve written at length before about the things to consider when fishing in winter. Click on the following link for more information:- WINTER FISHING TIPS
This is what happens when it all comes together in winter.
“The day dawned clear, cold and crisp. Not a cloud in the sky. Mist draped the low lying areas in a fluffy white blanket. The mercury in the car thermometer struggled to get into double figures, where a double figure means 2 degrees Celsius. A carpet of frost covered the cars parked overnight in the street outside our house. It was cold, literally freezing cold as we set forth from the car park to our destination on the Manukau harbour.
Condensing water vapour made every breath clearly visible as my son Tim and I headed purposefully down the path through the bush to the foreshore. The harbour was glassy calm. Mirror like. It was as still as I have ever seen it.
As we headed around the bay to the point where the kahawai normally hold a pied shag drifted into view. It obviously was thinking the same thing as us but quickly vacated the area as we approached. Tim opted to head on further and startled a juvenile seal which quickly scuttled into an adjacent crevice out of harm’s way. You can see it peering back from the crevice below.
It was as if someone had pushed the Pause button on the world. Nothing was moving in the cold and even the current was surprisingly languid. The view over the harbour was beautiful. The mist clinging to the Waitakere’s glowed red as if it was back lit and there were reflections aplenty.
I opted to use a handmade bibless minnow crafted by Jim Lanfear in the UK while Tim tied on a popper. The minnow weighed 19 grams and it cast a long way on the Daiwa Newera rod – IRT 400 spinning reel combination. It wiggled seductively on the retrieve and looked very edible.
Nothing happened for about 40 minutes until the sun started to slowly warm up the landscape. This warmth obviously thawed the ice on gull wings as they started to become active scouting the margins for food. It was clear that things were starting to happen.
In the next 10 minutes two separate fairy terns attacked Tim’s popper as he retrieved it. He was “ripping and pausing” it like a professional and consistently fooling everything with feathers. It looked stunning and I’d have grabbed a knife and fork if I was closer. We were chatting to each other about nothing in particular when all of a sudden a white missile hurtled down from on high its locator beacon firmly affixed on the popper. Gannet! How Tim managed to rip the popper out of the gannets grasp as it hit the water in a shower of spray we’ll never know but thankfully the popper continued its merry journey shoreward unmolested while the gannet shook its head in disbelief.
I decided that it was time to switch to a soft plastic to see if there were any kahawai holding in the hole which marks the junction of two current seams. I tied on a 1/3 oz. jig head and threaded a 3” Powerbait Ripple shad onto it.
Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a swirl near me in the channel and lobbed the soft plastic as close to it as I could. The lure sank to the bottom and I started a very slow retrieve. I paused, felt a fish mouth the bait, allowed it to have a decent chomp and then lifted the Newera in a firm strike. Everything came up solid and the fish took off like it had just been connected to the mains.
Line poured off the spool of the IRT and the drag squealed with delight. On and on it went until I tightened the drag slightly and put on side pressure with the long spinning rod. This turned the fishes head and we ended up in tug of war for the next 5 – 10 minutes. It wanted to run parallel to the shore and I wanted it to come in closer. Eventually the power of the rod and reel won over and the kahawai allowed itself to be drawn into the shore. It was a lovely fish, short and deep weighing a gnats whisker over 3 ½ lb. Great result! The Daiwa Newera rod and IRT 400 prototype spinning reel successfully christened.
We carried on for another 20 minutes but a steady breeze sprang up from the south and it got very cold, very quickly. The warmth of the car won out over carrying on so we headed home. Total time away from home was just over 2 ½ hours, including travelling time. Not a bad outcome from a dawn raid”.
So there you have it. A seal encounter and a kahawai for the smoker. Epic.
When the weather settles down again and the cold, still mornings return it is definitely worth hitting the flats to fling a lure or some feathers. You never know what you’ll find.