During 1769 Captain James Cook sailed the Endeavour along the North East coast of New Zealand. On his voyage he navigated past cape Karikari and Berghan Point, recording in his journal ‘doubtless a bay’ was between the two landmarks. Only 23 years later it was discovered by the first American whaling ship that there was actually a large bay, now named Doubtless Bay..
249 years down the track, myself and the man behind JAF, Aaron Styles set up camp on the northern most part of Doubtless Bay in a small beach town called Tokerau.
With hopes high and a perfect forecast we elected to go wide in search of pelagics for the first part of day one. Around 0800 we reached the 505 knoll onboard the surtees 495 ‘Critter Collector’ and altered course toward the Garden patch pins. The water looked reasonable and temp was up to 21.2 degrees but seemed lifeless so the call was made to point the bow west and go catch something to eat inshore.
En-route we were interrupted by a couple of nice albacore which kept us entertained for a few minutes.
1300h, lures in and steam toward the coast to fish a piece of foul neither of us had been before and were excited to check out.
Arriving on our spot the Sounder was loaded with bait and hanging around the edges were our next target species, Snapper!
Unsure what to expect, we began flicking our Zman lures.. Most casts produced a bite and the quality of each fish was spectacular, prime condition and hard fighting.
Tide went slack after two hours and we called it a day. Couple in the bin for dinner and 10, 17 & 19lb fish released along with a handful more.
Day Two -Kingfish and Snapper
0530 boat back in the water and off we went to cast lures into more unfamiliar water.
The morning was designated for kingfish, we targeted them with stickbaits, fishing our way around the cape throwing lures at anything that looked like it had potential.
We caught a couple of smaller fish early on then moved up the coast to a group of broken islands which was loaded with feeding kahawai.
After countless casts for not a lot of reward, last cast was called on a small shallow washy rock. Landing my lure right on top and taking one sweep, the carpenter stickbait was inhaled by a better looking fish which proceeded to scream off into the reef, after an intense scrap in uncomfortably shallow water a tired kingfish was boatside and quickly photographed before release.
With that ticked off it was back the Snapper nest, a few miles away.
Reaching our destination it was different to yesterday.. tide direction, bait and fish sign had all changed. With an hour of outgoing tide left the bite was slow so we planned to have lunch and a swim, then re-position after slack water.
Incoming wasn’t much of an improvement, only catching a few smaller models until Aaron’s 7’ zman was smashed on the drop by something angry and heavy.. It was an epic win some loose some battle, the fish not so keen on leaving the bottom and giving the custom yeehaa JAF rod a good workout.
10 minutes passed and eventually his fish was running out of steam, slowly nearing the surface giving us a first glimpse. Boatside and barely fitting in the net we pulled her onboard and took a weight(21lb) and measurement(84cm) along with quick photos before release. The Snapper was tired and full of air so 3 jigs were rigged together with a barbless hook attached upside down and in her lip. This sent it back to the bottom, she shook out the hook to carry on with her day.
The feeling of accomplishment was flooding the boat so we kept a couple more ‘pannies’ for the family and at 1600h, called it quits.
The far north has an amazingly diverse and healthy fishery, and I personally have been lucky enough to spend a bit of time up here over the past 6 years.
With everyone doing their part it can be like this forever, so maybe even you will get the opportunity to fish it one day too.
Till then, here’s a few photos of our trip..