Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle

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SEA FISHING

For anyone unfamiliar with the site always check the FRESHWATER, SALTWATER and TACK-TICS pages. The Saltwater page now extends back as a record of over several years of (mostly) sea fishing and may be a useful guide as to when to fish. The Freshwater stuff is also up to date now. I keep adding to both. These pages are effectively my diary and the latest will usually be about fishing in the previous day or two. As you see I also add the odd piece from my friends and correspondents if I've not been doing much. The Tactics pages which are chiefly 'how I do it' plus a bit of science are also updated regularly and (I think) worth a read (the earlier ones are mostly tackle and 'how to do it' stuff).

Filming in Whangamata.

My pal Alan in New Zealand is a self avowed 'tackle techie'. He's recently been testing a few rods and reels for a friend in the tackle trade. Unlike me, Alan is meticulous when it comes to gear. Anyway, he sent me an account of a recent filming session and I think it's well worth a read. If I get the pictures to go with it I'll put them on the blog later.

Hi Mike,

Trust this note finds you on the banks of the River Frome tussling an XOS pike.

As you know, I travelled down to Whangamata yesterday to fish and be filmed using GoPro cameras by my pal, Paul Smith. Sandy came down for the day mainly to spend some time with Hazel and play in the sea on her boogie board.

The drive down was amazing as the weather was so beautiful. A postcard perfect sunny vista with cloudless skies also greeted us in Whangamata. The digital thermometer had shot past 25oC by 11.00 am and showed no sign of slowing. Thankfully there was a blustery breeze, vacillating between 5 20 knots, to take the edge of the oppressive heat. Low tide was at 1.40 pm so Paul and I began our trudge across the flats at around 11.30 am after a quick cuppa and a Danish. For a change the seagulls were too lethargic to take to the air so it was a quiet stroll to the main channel. I checked the hard sand for the tell-tale signs of depressions where snapper have been digging for cockles and crabs and there were a few, but nothing like previous years.

The main aim of the session was twofold, test a new 9 Anyfish, Anywhere (AA) lure rod designed to handle both soft plastics and hard bodies and get some video footage of a fly fisherman in action. Paul had brought multiple GoPro cameras and his radio controlled quad copter to take some aerial footage. Paul had voiced that he was also dead keen to film an angler fighting fish so I walked out across the flats heavily burdened with the pressure of expectation. You could tell by my footprints as they were at least 12 deeper than Pauls. Paul set about assembling his gear as soon as we got to the channel while I knotted on a 4.5 gram Nitro jig head and adorned it with a 2 PowerBait shad.

Paul was still in the midst of his preparations when I sent my first cast arching across the estuary. I was amazed at the distance that the tiny jig head travelled on a rod rated at 15 40 grams. Granted there was a tail wind but it easily flew 10 further than I would have expected. It was a perfect cast landing at 10 oclock, slightly upstream of where I was standing. The jig head sank quickly and I mended the line upstream to ensure that the line was following the lure downstream. Within seconds the lure began to beat a seductive tattoo on the bottom as it headed towards the harbour mouth, pushed along steadily by the outgoing tide.

It travelled about 20 before the lure got absolutely slaughtered by something decent. I yelled Yep, Im in as the fish hit the turbochargers and set sail for the far side of the estuary. Paul was still laying out his kit neatly on the sand and mouthed his surprise at the hook up. There was an immediate cacophony of sound behind me as items were dropped and others hastily picked up. The fish meanwhile was still heading away from me and taking line at a frenetic pace. Fortunately it eventually slowed enough for me to get control and apply enough side to keep it inside the channel buoys and get it running parallel to the shore. It took off downstream on another burst and then turned tail and headed upstream against the current. Soon tiring of that it turned tail, flexed its muscles and headed downstream again, me in hot pursuit. I retreated well away from the shore and applied side to prevent it running outside of the buoys and this tactic worked well. Paul meanwhile was in his element circling around me at a respectful distance with his GoPro camera whirring. Eventually, after another five minutes or so, the fish tired and allowed me to beach it in the shallows. Paul was able to get some shots as it flapped in the skinny water and finally lay panting, beaten. It was a 4 lb. trevally, a magnificent fish for a mid-day session. We were ecstatic as it was a quality fish and the rod had performed flawlessly.

Returning to the task in hand, I continued to systematically work my way downstream for the next 20 25 minutes with any further touches. The wind was howling at times which made it tricky to keep the line tight to the lure. Eventually I made my way to the next holding area and opted to fire a cast close to the mid-stream buoy. The wind caught the cast and the lure popped in on the wrong side of the buoy. I lifted the rod tip and gave the reel two short cranks to get the lure back inside the buoy before allowing it to sink. Disaster avoided. Phew! Phew soon became oh, sh*t! as something big that was hanging near the buoy monstered the lure and took off at high speed. It just had to be another big trevally. The seemingly endless long initial run followed by the strong side-on resistance to being drawn shoreward, stubborn tail beating resolve and inevitable desire to head downstream to safety. Paul was again all over this, his camera capturing all sorts of footage. As the fight drew near to a close he was able to get in the shallows and film the fight underwater. Hopefully this footage comes out as it will be fantastic. We filmed the release underwater as well so fingers crossed the images are captured digitally. The trevally was virtually the twin of the first, albeit a smidgeon smaller, and would have been around 4 lb, wringing wet.

I carried on for another 25 minutes without any touches. By now the wind had died down a tad so I change to fly tackle. While I tackled up Paul lovingly removed the radio controlled quad copter from its purpose built cabinet and set about getting it ready for take-off. By the time wed done this the breeze, seizing its opportunity, had freshened. Initially it was difficult casting as the wind was strong but by tightening the back cast loop and opening the forward cast loop I was able to get about 80 out without too much drama. Not the prettiest casting to watch but the line was going out cleanly and without incident.

As you know, Ive mentioned that there is now a bee or wasp nest on the far side of the estuary and the ba****ds now head towards you on a fairly regular basis. It is particularly disconcerting if you point the rod directly at them as they seem to treat it as a directional arrow and follow it towards you before accelerating up over your head. It is almost like they are daring each other to see who can go the closest and elicit the most interesting response. You can almost imagine a judging panel on the far bank lofting scorecards after each participant finishes its aerial manoeuvre with a flourish. Needless to say this behaviour forces more than one sphincter to tighten. Why do I mention this? Well, when Paul started up the quad copter it sounded for all the world like a wasp swarm was heading my way. I swear my head did a complete 360o turn as I was figuring out where was the best place to dive in the estuary and submerge myself. Realising it was the only the quad copter I soon calmed down but Im sure that a quick inspection of the laundry basket would show that I came very close to soiling my underwear. ? Long story short, aside from getting some nice images the fly fishing went without incident. I used a Clouser and smelt fly for 45 minutes without any substantive touches.

At this point, I decided to revert to AA spinning rod and test it with a hard bodied lure, the ever reliable Yo-Zuri 3D vibe. This was also a revelation as I could cast the 14 gram lure to within 10 of the far shore with minimal effort. Within 10 minutes of starting with the hard bodied lure I spotted a small work up where main stream enters harbour and set off at a very brisk trot to target it. Paul, his dog Louis, and quad copter followed in hot pursuit. It took about 5 minutes to get close enough to cast amongst the flecks of foam, which betrayed where the fish had been working, but within half a dozen casts I managed to hook up. Unfortunately by this time the quad copter battery was low so Paul had returned to our starting point to put the unit away and missed the action. We probably caught it on the chest mounted GoPro that I was wearing. This unit had audio capacity so no doubt youll hear me swearing like a navvy at Paul and whistling with my shepherds whistle, all to no avail. The kahawai was only around 14" and spat the hooks when it jumped in the shallows. If I had not been trying to hold it on the line long enough for Paul to get back then I may have landed it. Hopefully the GoPro I was wearing caught it going aerial just before it got off.

We opted to call it a day at this point. All in all a fantastic session, great company, unbelievable day. It will long live in my memory.

Tight lines and best wishes,

Alan Bulmer

I can't wait to see the footage!

Setting up.

Alan sets up his gear on the beach.

He's in!

In hot persuit of a fast moving trevally.

Nice one!

Beautiful fish and satisfied angler.