Shattered but bloody happy

Malcolm delighted to get his hands an an ‘Albie’

At 4.30am my alarm shattered the silence. My initial thoughts were, what the hell is that going off for? I quickly realised I had agreed to chase albacore tuna in Tasman Bay and, considering I was in Kaikoura, an early start was called for.

On the road by 5.30am and at my brother’s place in Blenheim at 7.00am. A friend of my brother, Will, arrived at the same instant, which meant we were on the road to Okiwi Bay on time. Always a good thing in my book.

An hour and a half later and my brother, Jamie, had his Hardtop McLay in the water and ready to go. This was my first time to Okiwi Bay and I was in awe at the beauty of the place, an absolute gem. Thirty minutes out into Tasman Bay and the water was crystal clear and 20 degrees, ideal albacore water! Lots of birds were about and we saw bait fish regularly in the inky black water. We set out four trolling lures of various colours and different lengths away from the boat and headed further out into the bay. We even deployed a daisy chain to help attract some action.

Our fluoro green lure was the first to go off and Will had the honour of being first up. The other lures were cleared to give him the best possible chance of success. With a few good runs, Jamie was able to grab the trace, while I did the honours with the gaff. Will was rapt with his 10kg prize and hopes were raised for a good day. The fish was bled and put on ice immediately.

Next up my 10kg rod went off and I was rewarded with a 7kg fish. The first albacore I had caught for about 10 years, so it was great to get back on the board.

Jamie spotted some albacore free jumping, so we headed in their direction, trolling the lures. Right where we had seen them, my rig went off again to a very solid fish. The fish got tangled in the daisy chain but, after a good battle, we got it to the boat and I had myself a 10kg prize. After bleeding it, we added it to the fast filling chilly bin. We turned the boat and went back over the spot and this time Jamie got in on the action and landed another 10kg albacore.

With more than enough tuna on board, we headed back in close for a bottom fish where six blue cod and a nice snapper joined the albacore in the now full chilly bin.

A couple of hours later and we were back in Blenheim processing the catch before I hit the road for the drive back to Kaikoura.

Sixteen hours after leaving home I was back, shattered but very bloody happy with how the day had gone. Plans are already underway to have another go at these magnificent game fish we are so privileged to have available to us.

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