|Tindalls Bay Reef
|It only happens every five or six years, the blue water comes down the coast and right into the Hauraki Gulf, brushing fingers of blue down to against the inner islands near Auckland City. At times like these, I like to dive the closest places to where I live, finding new reef systems that are usually hidden in the murk. With vis reports improving closer to home, a high tide getting later in the afternoon, and a light north-easter to push the warm water closer in to shore, the tension had been building all week for me.
I launched my scupper pro and paddled out to the reef at Tindall’s Bay, a 20 minute paddle from my home. I think I’ll call it Walden Reef from now on; there’s something just so Thoreau about the whole setup, the yak, my 3 prong, and right at my doorstep. Funny thing is, this is still the suburbs of Auckland. Unbranded space right in front of our noses. No concrete. Most people don’t know what they are missing.
Anyway, the water’s looking good half way over there, and then gets murkier again. I was expecting maybe 4 or 5 metres of visibility. Anchoring the yak, I suited up and jumped in. Opening my eyes underwater, the reef stretched out into the distance – the clear water is here!
Around the eastern end of the reef I encountered some kahawai, a small fast school fish weighing a couple of pounds which are hard to hit with a three prong. I lay in the weed and waited for the shot and paralysed one. Good start, they are good bait for chunking up. Around the corner I was blown away by the visibility here. Normally, it’s 2 – 3 metres (6 – 10 feet). Today it was an easy 10 metres (33 ft). I know it doesn’t seem that exciting to those living in the tropics, but for a suburban coastal dive, this is as good as it gets.
|Very small slimy mackerel were tinkling and bunching along the shallow drop-off to the sand and small snapper drifted past me. This place is going off!
I burleyed the kahawai and brought in some pan sized snapper and clouds of baby snapper. I tried to ‘whisper’ some of the biggest ones in, but when they did come close, they were only just over legal size (27 cm) and the shots were a marginal distance with my Kawabunga 3 prong.
A faint smudge swam over the kelp – a large squid, and another one next to it. What a beauty! I sank down and waited for it to come closer again. Whack! The squid was secured. One of the biggest I’ve shot.
A couple of small kingfish swam past close enough to hit, but marginal on the 75 cm size limit. Besides, I don’t need the extra meat right now unless it’s a really good fish and a good shot.
A couple of hours passed with me drifting around in the weed waiting for bigger snapper to appear, but none did. The action started heating up, there were pan sized snapper everywhere. More kingies came in, one a big one of 15 – 18 kg (33 – 36 pounds), and some ‘rat’ kingies. Finally a pair of John Dory attacked the bait fish and I shot one. Now, I had enough for dinner. Another half hour of chasing snapper as the sun sank lower and the vis closed down, and I was off home for an easy paddle with the wind.
Fresh John Dory on the pan for dinner and a cold beer. Now I have a memory to cherish of one fine day at Walden Reef.