Fishing in Godzone’s editor Matt Hewetson headed to the Far North to enjoy some hot softbait action fishing Rangiputa harbour.
It had been a busy month in May with duck shooting opening, then working at the Hutchwilco Boat Show and on top of the stress of also getting our house sold and buying another. It had also meant it had been a few weeks that I had managed to head out fishing and I was itching to get a fish in.
It was the end of May when I finally cleared the decks and saw the forecast for the Far North was looking good. During the boat show I had caught up with Craig Jenkins from Zeropak who lives in Doubtless Bay, and he kindly invited me back up to fish if I could find the time. I had been out with Craig in his “Pocket Rocket” 4.2m Smart Wave that he bought at the boat show last year and we had done well at Rangiputa on my last trip.
I phoned Craig to say I was coming up on Thursday and Friday morning looked good as the conditions were turning for the weekend, with another strong easterly wind getting up which had been so dominant since summer this year. I also put a call in to local resident Kieron Olsen from Reel Rods who advised some good trevs were being caught in Rangiputa. I love tough fighting trevs, they pull so hard on light softbait tackle.
It is a long way to go from Tauranga (6 hours’ drive) and although I would only probably get the Friday in fishing, the forecast wind and rain for the weekend meant I could go game bird shooting in my home town Dargaville before heading home. On the drive up and I called in to see the team at Rod & Reel in Newmarket, Auckland, and Justin Corric showed me a great photo of wife Evana with a big 6kg+ trevally she had caught in Doubtless Bay just a couple of weeks before (the cover shot of this issue) and I was now super keen to find myself attached to such a fish.
I arrived at Craig and Michelle’s at 7pm and they had a top venison dinner ready from a recent South Kaipara hunt Craig had been on, bagging a few fallow on a private farm. Craig was all ready for an early start on Friday morning and I just had to get a good sleep and jump in his new Triton in the morning as the boat was hitched, fuelled and ready to go.
Craig and I arrived early at Rangiputa beach on Friday in the dark as the sun was about to rise and there were a few boats waiting to launch at high tide. Obviously, these boaties had also seen the weather change coming and decided to sneak out for a fish too.
The Smart Wave 4.2m centre console was now a year old and Craig advised he had caught a lot of fish from it, the boat was proving a great platform to fish off and so economical with the 50hp Suzuki. Craig was a happy boatie and the vessel was low maintenance and reliable, something he was looking for in a boat.
We were soon on the water and heading to the harbour entrance to fish the rocks where we had done so well last year, with snapper to 17lb and seen a big kingfish. As we approached the shallows the sounder showed a lot of fish down below, they were large and schooling. Were they snapper? It seemed odd as usually snapper are spread out hard on the bottom here as only 15m deep.
I was super keen to cast out a Z-Man and picked one of my favourites, the orange Atomic Sunrise 5” on a five-eighths jig head. The wind was supposed to under 6 knots but as the sun started to rise the gusts were well over 12 knots and cold, as coming from the southeast direction.
As Craig moved into position and we deployed the drogue, I cast out the back and was getting hit instantly with small taps on the softbaits. Small snapper? Weird takes, but soon I was hooked up to a heavy fish with that tell-tale vibrating action of a trevally. Sure enough, it was a nice 50cm trevally that came into the net.
Craig was also getting soft takes but not hooking up, so I recast and bang a bigger fish took off and really put the afterburners on! This was a bigger fish, and it took
some effort to bring to the net, this trev was over 55cm and put on ice in the bin. Craig loves to make a fish stir fry using trevally or kingfish with their denser flesh ideally suited for this.
While we were having fun hooking up on the trevs, around us on the surface schools of kahawai were feeding with birds diving amongst them. Craig yelled out as we both saw a huge kingie attack the baitfish on the surface leaving a big hole in the water as its large yellow tail beat the water! Let’s get over there Craig I yelled! We moved the boat about 30m, and I cast a WCP 60g stickbait but unfortunately got no interest, so we set to trying to get a kahawai on a softbait for a livie.
We soon had one and deployed it down on a circle hook and Craig towed it around the school of kahawai for 20 minutes, but we couldn’t get any interest from that kingfish. We went back to the shallows to drift using softbaits again and enjoyed more battles with the trevs and put a few fat snapper and John dory into the bin. The orange Z-Man was dealing to all species and then a snapper took me to ground, and I couldn’t get it out, I broke off and then had to re-tie a new 25lb leader and started softbaiting again.
The morning session was all action and then it went quiet just on midday and the wind was really blowing, well over 17 knots and chopping the water up. This front was supposed to be coming Saturday but it looked like it was early. With a bin full of nice fish, we were happy as we headed back in early to go and clean the boat and catch.
Rangiputa is such a cool place, big trevs, snapper and kings all found there. You don’t have to go far to find fish here, lure fishing such as softbaits works well on a variety of species as we discovered. I think for the next trip, we need to spend more time targeting the kingies.