Dodging the Jonah tag

By: Anthony Roberts

Auckland Anniversary weekend has been a bumper as people have enjoyed the calmer and hotter weather. I had the opportunity of spending it fishing in the Warkworth Game Fishing Club’s One Base tournament, which is held annually and based out of Port Fitzroy. The weekend saw four striped marlin and one broadbill swordfish tagged and released. The boat that won the heaviest bill fish has had a long barren run, almost four years of no hook-ups, so much so that the skipper Rob Southey was wondering if this new boat was jinxed. The angler Tom Stewart, who has been a stalwart on the boat for almost nine years as chief chef, was finally able to land his maiden marlin.

A very long wait with many hours on the water for his maiden fish. A big blue at that, weighing in at 165.4 kilograms. Not only was this the first marlin for Tom, but also the first blue marlin for skipper. It seems that the dry run is finally over for Karakia!

I’ve attended this competition for five years and finally brought in my first New Zealand tagged marlin. I jumped ship this year from Karakia to crew for Harbourview and as we heard over the radio that they had landed their marlin, I could just hear the comments flying, “Proper Jonah blah blah blah! His pink phone is not on the boat that’s why our luck has finally changed”, when suddenly we heard the reel start screaming on our boat. I was lucky enough to have a chance on the chair, and 30 minutes later the fish was at the boat and tagged. The two positives that came out of this was that had I not jumped ship, one of us would still not have landed a marlin, and I managed to dodge being blamed for Karakia’s dry run.

Good to see was the landing of tuna species. A lot of skipjack, some albacore and, finally, a good lot of yellowfin. The trophy for the biggest yellowfin weighed in at 17kg and second and third at 16.8kg and 15.4kg respectively. Yellowfin have been incredibly scarce in our area for quite some years and it is great to see them back.

With the good weather, not much bottom fishing was done other than trolling. The biggest measured snapper of the tournament came in at 76.5cm and the winning kingfish at a hefty 104.5 cm. It is great to see the club pushing for measured snapper and kingfish, as well as tagged and released bill fish. I have noticed that more and more competitions are now introducing measured fish rather than weighed fish.

At home around Kawau this summer has seen great fishing. Based on anglers’ feedback, December has produced more fish than normal. Many locals have reported catching their limit in no time when it comes to snapper. The bigger snapper have been in close around the reefs. There have been many sightings of work-ups around large schools of bait fish stretching from Tiritiri Matangi Island through to past Leigh reef. Kingfish have been plentiful, but it has been harder to catch them as they are gorging themselves on the bait fish. Lipped lures that can dive deep seem to be working to catch these kingi. We have had a run on trolling paravanes, which help get the lipped lures deeper while trolling. Tight lines.

Tom Stewart lands his first marlin.

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