Kawau Island
24 - 26 January 2009
I took the family out on the launch for the weekend to try and shoot some fish.  Friday arvo had me diving in the general area of Challenger at Kawau Island.  So I swim over to a reef I haven't been on before, and as I'm readying for my first dive I look down in the 10 m vis to see a nice snapper hanging in a gut.  In my shadow.  I dropped on it silently, and it stirred, then swam away slowly.  I relaxed and kept sinking, having just spied its mate under a piece of kelp directly below it.  Its eyes were hidden by the kelp still.   I dropped onto it and stoned it with my Manny Puig spear.  Choice, a nice 3.5 kg snapper to start the trip.

I figured that was plenty, so explored the reef for a while then went back to crack a beer and help feed the kids. 
"Ugh"
Manny & Me with dinner guest
The second day took us to Takatu Point - I was right in expecting the vis to be good - it was 15  to 20 metres and blue!  I got out my big 3.1 metre Crist spear with one of Aaron's new sliptips and swim out to the end of Elephant Point where I watched the mado and small kings mill around above the sand off the reef that goes from about 8 m to 20 m.  A kingy came in and I whacked it but somehow it got off - possibly sliptip hit the spine and did not toggle?  I was a bit disappointed, but I still wanted a kingy for the smoker.  Another possy came in and I lined up a 15 kg model.  I hit him well, and it took the spear down for a fight.  During the fight I looked up and saw a wall of 50 - 100 kingies emerging from the south.  It was an awesome sight as some were well over 30 kg.  Of course a large grey shape also emerged from the sand, cruising around like a dog looking for its bone.  Hmmmm.  Here we go again...  The bronzie mooched around as I dragged the kingy into shallower water, but was keeping its distance.  The kingies were going ape swimming around, over, and under the bronzie all excited, and even a big big snapper emerged and swam below the shark. It was pretty electric!  Now this was not a baby bronzie.  I know I was not 5 metres long, but it made the kingy look like a sprat.  It was as big a bronzie as I have seen (apparently they grow to 3 metres).

I could see the sliptip toggled under the skin and holding very well, so I tried to haul the fish further into the shallows.  In came my big grey mate, getting closer now.  I was hoping he'd eat the fish now and leave me be, so I pulled the spear upwards and tried to push the spear at him, but with a kingy flopping around on the end, a pole spear does not make a very viable poker.    "Oh well, I'll drop it and he'll just eat it", I thought.   So I did.

Now the shark just ignored the fish, and followed the increasingly uneasy (and now defenceless) creature which was backpedalling away along the surface.  This was not very good.  The terrorist was not very far from my fintips.  He turned, and just as I hoped he'd be off to eat some kingfish sashimi, he was back again and circling under me.  It was then that the allure of an almost dry rock proved too hard to resist.  I climbed up and managed to just hold on as waves washed around me.  About a hundred metres away, Sarah and the kids were watching and Pipi was asking "mummy, why is daddy sitting on that rock over there?"

After five minutes I legged it for the boat and went to pick up the float and gear. The kingy had of course been removed and the spear was a bit knocked around from being pulled around through the rocks.

Not surprisingly, we moved after that.  I did some mileage on the back coast of Kawau, coming in with just a squid and a couple of small snapper sightings.  Sunday saw us back at my reef in the general area of Challenger Island.  "Surely I can burley here", I thought.

I had just arrived, and this dude paddles past on a longboard.  Standing on a surfboard with an old paddle, he just cruises away.  How Old School is that?  The funniest thing was that he had paddled past these guys who were helifishing.  Can just imagine it.  "Hey guys, how did you get out here?"  What a cool way to get around!

A big kina burley and just one leettle parore sacrifice, and there were lots of pan sized snappers around.  After some false starts I got another 3.5 kg snapper, and just as I was giving it the iki spike a 2 metre long bolt of grey appeared underneath me, I moved at it, and it turned and fled.  "That'll do for this spot today", I figured, whacking a small blind snapper on the way back to the boat.
So in the arvo we headed for Moturekareka, to some nice broken islands at the southern end.  I swam into the point and had pretty good 10 - 12 m vis, and lots of panny snappers drifting around.  I did a kina burley and managed to get some small ones, but as I was using my 3 prong, I reckon that's not bad.   I had in mind an attempt on getting my limit of snapper for the day.  I gave the area a break after my third one, and swam up to the next point.  Just as I arrived at the spot where any big fish should have been, I was drifting up the side of the reef when a 2 metre long white belly with a crescent shaped mouth appeared above me, swimming straight over me.  I released the spear to scare it, and it took off with a fright. Thinking of my vulnerable collection of snappers hanging on my float line bleeding out and smelling like yummy sashimi, I legged it back to my original burley, shot one more, and headed to the boat, seeing some 10 - 15 kg kingies lazily drifting in the blue tinged water off the point.  I would have to be happy with six pole speared snapper for the day.

All in all, an awesome weekend, the water is clear and blue from Tiri northwards, and now is a great time to dive coastal areas which are normally marginal vis.  Just be prepared to run into a few bronze terrorists.
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