Drone fishing—a slice of heaven

Tash displays a nice pair of ellies

I wish I had cottoned on to drones sooner.

We work hard, play hard and we age. You can’t change that but you can get new parts—in some cases. I’m waiting for two knee replacements… four years now. So, sadly, my days of walking up rivers, around lakes and over hills to find hard to catch fish are gone.

My career as a chef has taken me all over New Zealand, Australia, Norfolk Island and finally to Waimate. It wasn’t money that lured us south but outstanding fishing.

Covid killed my career —I couldn’t take the hours on my feet. After three months of lockdown, I began to walk again—maybe 50 metres on a good day—and got back into surfcasting, but my casting sucked—you don’t realise how much you use your legs.

Drone fishing distracted me from lockdown, so I bought an AEE Condor A 20 and invested a lot of time at the local horse racing track, learning to fly it. Once confident, I attached the rod, flew the line out and practised dropping it. A couple of days and six flattened batteries later… I was ready.

A new lease of life flowed through my veins; now I had the ability to fish again and put a bait out to a kilometre if necessary—a game changer. Before this, 50 metres was a big cast.

We fished Hook Beach, a hit and miss location for me, but a slice of heaven for some. A chance chat over the fence with our neighbour, pointed us in the direction of Makikihi Beach. She did well catching elephant fish there and said her key was two hours before high tide to two hours after high tide.

We started mid-August, but it wasn’t until mid-September we got our first elephant fish. I have been salting my own baits for 20 years: squid, kahawai, trevally, pipis, octopus, mullet, herrings, mussels and pāua. Salted squid our number one bait for sure.

However, I caught my first one on pāua. I had set a line out about 300 metres and the bite was massive, bending my rod over, the fish taking off in a blazing run. It felt a good weight on the line, but I managed 60 metres back before it was off again. Then swam towards the beach.

Ten minutes later, I coaxed it into the front wave just before it crashes onto the beach, but it got a second wind and it was really on. Another few lightning runs tested me but I ultimately steered it up the beach.

The colours were like nothing I had seen before, truly amazing. At nearly three foot long, the ele’ was nearly as big as the smiles on our faces. Forty-five years fishing and this was my first one.

On the technical side, I predominantly use one hook rigs, tubed traces about 18 inches long to keep them straight and favour pink homemade flasher rig hooks (ele’s love pink or red). I like the flash at least three inches long and lots of it. It gives great movement in the water as your bait rolls on the bottom. The hooks are mounted close to the sinker—when fishing multiple hooks, it’s the hook closest to the sinkers that catches most fish.

That year we landed 28 and the next… 32. This year four.

Weather patterns affect how close they come in.

With unsettled weather, they come in, lay their eggs and head back out to deeper water.

If it’s a warm sunny season, they hang in close and you don’t even need a drone to catch them. If you find their egg cases on the beach, target those spots regularly; sooner or later it pays off.

As an eating fish, it’s right up there with the best I’ve eaten. The fillets are awesome, long, wide and thick. We fired up our deep fryer, made a light batter, homemade chips and it was, to quote Dave Dobbin, “A SLICE OF HEAVEN.”

Share this post :


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Create a new perspective on life

Your Ads Here (365 x 270 area)
Latest Stories

Subscribe our newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest updates direct to your inbox.


Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest updates direct to your inbox.