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, Hugh recently passed away and is sadly missed by his family, friends and loyal customers alike.
The trip started well, with ice and bait loaded early on Saturday morning as a fiery red sunrise burned above the Mount.
We quickly stacked the boat with provisions 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 at Te Kuia’s cruising speed of 8.
Kahawai schoolWithin a few minutes all four lines were hooked up in amongst a school of kahawai.
Reducing speed, the fish where brought on board.
As we continued on our way the rods began to scream more and more often as we hit the skippies around the 60m line.
It made for a slow and enjoyable trip out, but there was no rush as we were out for two days.
Reaching the deep sea fishing grounds around 1100 hrs, 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.
A quick scan of the horizon and we counted at least 12 smaller boats taking advantage of the variable 10 knots that was forecast for the day - and what a day it was to be had.
We brought Te Kuia back up current and deployed four of the seven electric rods/reel combos that we had on the boat, 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 of the fish as it was being winched towards the surface causing braid on braid rub, cutting nearly everyone’s lines off.
It was decided to keep pushing to some of our furthest spots.
As we came closer towards the mark, the radar indicated the knoll was occupied by three smaller vessels.
With the new chirp transducer we had on board, we had no problem picking up some nearby unmarked knolls that were stacked with sign in around 300m.
Away all the lines went, with multiple hook-ups on all kinds of bait: mullet, squid, kahawai and skippies.
The condition of the fish varied hugely, with similar length fish being up to 5kgs difference in weight.
A quick inspection of the guts showed some had spawned while others had yet to.
After several drifts, and bins quickly filling, we headed on our way, working back towards Mayor Island, targeting different areas along the way.
Some hidden mounds produced tasty little bass, small blue nose and untold amounts of gemfish that were to be bound for the smoker.
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 it was sent back to the bottom attached to the line.
Kingies fightingThe kingies were waiting and, sometimes within seconds, they were on the hook and the fight was on.
We landed plenty around the 15kg mark.
Once everyone on board had caught at least one, we pushed around to the East, where half the crew decided to turn in for the night.
The others pulled their limit of 1-4kg snapper out of 80 metres of water.
By the time the last person was going to bed, the sun was rising and it was on with the bacon and eggs and back out to the deep grounds.
After having such a flat first day, we had become a bit complacent about where our 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.
Stashing everything safely, we chugged our way out.
Every bit of sign we could find was plagued by gemfish, and it was a challenge to keep bait down there long enough for the big fish to show up.
When they did we had one hell of a time, with bluenose up to 25kg coming across the rails.
With bins full, sore arms and low batteries we headed back towards the Mount.
We did it for you Hugh.
Rest in peace.