A long range forecast for the weekend anticipating fine, calm weather, encouraged a group of keen fishos to arrange a remembrance trip for Hugh Ensor. Boss and skipper at Blue Ocean Charters for the last 31 years, he recently passed away and is sadly missed by family, friends and his loyal customers alike.
The trip started well loading ice and bait early Saturday morning as a fiery red sunrise burned above the Mount. We stacked the boat with provisions and ice and steamed towards the open ocean. Along the way we were greeted by some of the ocean’s more playful creatures, the common dolphin. We were frequently escorted by them throughout the two days. With escorts in tow and pie in hand we steamed across the 40m deep band. The glassy conditions made it easy to spot disturbances in the water. The sooty shearwaters were feeding so tuna lures were quickly deployed and it was full steam ahead, Te Kuia’s cruising speed of 8.5 knots. Within minutes all four lines were hooked up in amongst a school of kahawai. Reducing speed the fish where brought onboard. As we continued on our way the rods began to scream more and more often as we hit skippies around the 60m line.
Reaching the deep sea fishing grounds, fresh strip baits were carefully carved from the freshly-caught fish. The vessel settled into a test drift across the reef in several hundred metres. We counted at least 12 smaller boats taking advantage of the variable 10 knots forecast for the day.
We brought Te Kuia back up current and deployed four of the seven electric rods/reel combos with an easy couple of hapuka and gemfish landed. We repeated the action and on the second drop all lines were on. Unfortunately, a shark grabbed one fish as it was being winched towards the surface causing braid-on-braid rub, cutting nearly everyone’s lines off.
With our new chirp transducer it was no problem to pick up some nearby unmarked knolls. The lines went in with multiple hook-ups on all kinds of bait: mullet, squid, kahawai, and skippies.
After several drifts and bins quickly filling we headed back towards Mayor Island. Some hidden mounds produced tasty little bass, small blue nose and untold amounts of gemfish.
As sunset drew near we tucked in near the western side of Mayor. We found it hard to catch any live bait even though they surrounded the boat. As soon as one was on-board its tail was clipped and sent back to the bottom on the line. Kingies were waiting and within seconds, were on the hook and the fight was on. We landed plenty around the 15kg mark. Then we pushed around to the East where half the crew decided to turn in. The others pulled their limit of 1kg-4kg snapper out of 80m.
After having such a flat first day we’d become a bit complacent about where gear was left around the boat. This quickly changed as we hit the one metre slop and things started falling off the higher parts of the boat.
Every bit of sign we could find was plagued by gemfish and it was a challenge to keep a bait down there long enough for the big fish to show up. We had one hell of a time with bluenose up to 25kg coming across the rails. So with bins full, sore arms and low batteries we headed back towards the Mount. We did it for you Hugh…rest in peace.