Sublime winter spearfishing

Winter can produce the best and worst diving conditions.

With a frantic phone call asking me to change my flights from later in the week to the next day, my yearly trip to Auckland was thrown into a chaos of wife approval and organizing babysitters. At 0600 I departed

Invercargill for the big smoke of Auckland. Arriving to an overcast day, it was straight to Wettie Spearfishing Auckland to grab the items too long or heavy to fly up with. Then we headed north to Omaha.

Early wake ups are always the hardest when you have hardly slept a wink due to the anticipation of diving the far edges of the Hauraki Gulf. A solid hour and half steam lay ahead but, with calm seas, we made short work of it. I asked the skipper what were the chances of seeing a winter kingfish. The reply deflated me: “We might see the odd loner but unlikely to see many or any schools.”

North Island diving is certainly in its own category. We were welcomed with 17m visibility and fish aplenty. I quickly tried to lower my heart rate that was beating out of my chest, to get down to the first ledge. A quick drop and peek over the edge put me face to face with a sizeable kingfish. A glance at me and he lazily swum off into the distance before I had the chance to land a shot.

The skipper had powered past me to the closet point and a thought shot threw my head, ‘ Always stick with the local.’

However, I had seen fish so was happy where I was. Two more drops produced huge schools of pinkies and blue mao mao. As I came up from the third drop, I saw the skipper lazily swimming past me with a solid 25kg kingfish. My heart sank. Chances are, this was the one I saw previously and the only one of the day. As I helped the skipper load it into the Wettie float boat, he said to stick with him, as he saw another one at the same point.

Excitedly, I tried a few drops, coming up empty and only seeing the kingfish in the distance. Sometimes it’s just a matter of time, so I kept sticking to my drop and wait routine. Just on

the edge of the last breath, as I was looking to the left, I looked right and staring at me was a very fat winter kingfish! A quick snap off with the Wettie Viper 120cm and the battle was on. As I battled away, 20 other kingfish swum in to see what the excitement was and provided an amazing backdrop to the battle with my kingfish. Impressive.

This was definitely the largest kingfish I had come across and I struggled to keep it out of the weed, so a second shot was required to secure my best kingfish to date. It’s not often two kingfish will fill a Wettie float boat to the brim. However, these did the job.

After unloading the kingfish, we returned to what I can only describe as a sea thick with snapper. With kohero flicking in between and blue mao mao so thick you could hardly see the bottom, the afternoon just couldn’t get any better for shooting snapper. With four in the float boat and plenty to take home, we called it a day.

The diving that day was some of the best I have experienced. There is certainly something to look forward to when it comes to winter diving!

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