Kaikoura kai rig!

Success for Bryn started hours earlier

Back turned to the ocean, I looked down into my bait bucket, a mixture of crayfish and rock crab, wondering to myself, what to try next. Half a crab? A mixture? Or a meaty piece of crayfish with a leg sticking out at an appetizing angle?

“Oi mate! That’s a bite, that’s a bite!”

I flip my attention to see the rod doubled over, leaning out to sea. Fish on!

It all started with gathering the right bait. The morning tides were perfect for a dive so I suited up and started hunting the coastline. During the dive I came across an old fish frame, most likely someone’s discarded berley or craypot bait. It was crawling with red rock crabs feasting on the left overs. An idea started brewing, “They would make awesome rig bait.” I couldn’t kick a gift horse in the mouth and so I dived down and grabbed a few for an evening surfcasting mission. With those armoured pincers, thank goodness for dive gloves!

Walking down the beach, it was the usual juggle of rods, rod holders, bait bucket, back pack and, just like the groceries, it all had to be done in one trip. My mate and I had planned to fish the change of light, the target species being rig.

I use a simple one hook ledger rig where the single hook can be removed and replaced, which allows me to bait multiple hooks in preparation. I can wind in, check a bait, quickly change it over and continue fishing. Ultimately this creates more time with your bait in the water, which should increase your success. The first bait I tried was my favourite—crayfish.

Casting out, the conditions were almost too calm. An hour passed with not a sniff. A banded wrasse was landed during regular bait checks but it was gearing up to be a scenic trip to the beach. Time to swap to a crab bait. You spend a lot of time staring at rod tips thinking, “Was that a bite?” but, in reality, when a rig takes your bait its often a test of how well you buried your rod holder into the sand.

“Oi mate! That’s a bite, that’s a bite!”

Finally, some action! It was a classic take from a rig, with a strong initial run, pulling drag, out to deeper water. I let the fish tire itself out behind the breakers before trying to land it. The surf in Kaikoura can be unforgiving with a strong undertow, even on calm days. As a wave drew back, I put some effort in, bringing it up the beach. My mate grabbed the shock leader, taking the pressure off the rod and securing the catch.

This wasn’t the most successful day down the beach, nor was it the best rig of the season, but it was one of the more rewarding catches; being a part of the connection from bait to target species!

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