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Mayor Island Kingfish Academy Report

Written by Tim on February 24th, 2015.      0 comments

The 2015 Kingfish Academy was a weekend that we'd all been looking forward to. Mayor Island is the ultimate destination for kayak fishermen as it has both stunning scenery and big fish. To make it even more tempting, I'd incentivised the fishing my offering up a trophy for the heaviest Kingfish caught over the weekend, with the winner also receiving a free spot on the next Kingfish Academy trip...It's safe to say that my team of 12 was absolutely amping! 
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Photo: Kingfish Academy Trophy

Early on Friday morning we gathered down at the Tauranga Marina and started loading our mothership - the Enterprise. With 13 kayaks and an absolute mountain of gear, this was no easy process, but everyone quickly bonded and organised themselves into teams that efficiently loaded all the kit. I had warned the skipper that us kayakers don't travel light, but he was a bit shocked at the continual stream of rods, paddles, and assorted paraphernalia. At final count we had 56 rods between the 13 of us! During this process, the energy of the whole team was so palpable that I made the comment that "I could read the excitement just by the body language". I was also pretty keen and with a forecast that read 10 knots northerly for the next four days, I was full of great expectations.
Photo: our mothership for the weekend, the Enterprise.

By 11 we were all on board and slipped quietly out of the Tauranga Harbour. The three hour ride out to Mayor Island was a great chance to get to know everyone; we had a real mix of experience levels and people had come from all over NZ (Ross had just flown up from Christchurch that morning). As we chugged out at 9 knots, the Mount steadily grew smaller and Mayor grew bigger. Along the way we passed massive schools of fish, porpoising skipjack tuna, dolphins, and a rare treat of two manta rays playing/shagging/fighting on the surface. 
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Photos: the Enterprise can carry a huge amount of equipment!

Upon arrival at Sou' East Bay (the only permitted landing spot on the island) we set about ferrying our mountain of gear from the boat to the beach. Mayor Island is a privately owned island, and also totally pest free, so we were supervised by the caretaker, Vicky, who later took us into the quarantine hut for a quick check for foreign pests and seeds. Before long we were setup in our accommodation and talk of an afternoon/evening fish got us amping to hit the water. Rods were rigged, PFD's donned, and we all headed out in search of our quarry - the much desired kingfish. 
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Photos: there is no wharf on Mayor Island so unloading the Enterprise is done with the help of a tender. 

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Photos: left is the bunkhouse style accommodation which is simple but adequate; right is the cooking shelter which consists of a big seating area and two large wood fired BBQ's and a clean up station.. 

This first fishing session was probably the best session that we were to experience for the weekend. Steve located the fish near Tuhua reef, and was quickly busted off. Utilising our radio's, Bruce N. and I soon joined him, and once all rigged up we began a fun session on the kings. The fish proved not to be big, but they were holding on a small patch and we were get them regularly. The main problem was the sharks, who quickly joined us and started to take a toll on our equipment. By the end of the session they had taken 4 of my fish and a few jigs. We all had a good time and finished up at around 7.30, paddling back into Sou East bay just on sunset. 
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Photos: shark attack and soon to be shark attack haha!

Saturday morning saw the crew head far and wide in search of fish. Unfortunately the kings weren't to be found in the same quantities as the previous evening, and while a few were hooked, the 'tax man' once again swooped in for his cut. The highlights of the morning was a PB snapper for Bruce N. (of around 4kg) and a monster bronze whaler shark caught by Pete. Estimated at around 100kg, this beast took the better part of half and hour to reel in, and on 15kg gear it was truly an epic battle. Pete played it superbly and was able to cut the trace very near the jig.
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Photos: as well as kingfish, big snapper are also on the highly desired list at Mayor Island.

After a morning of jigging and paddling, the affects of too much exercise was apparent for all of the crew. Tired bodies and a gusty breeze meant only half the team went out for an afternoon fish. Conditions were pretty tough and even I was struggling in the big chop. After battling away at it for a few hours, I made the decision to anchor up in the shelter of Panui Point with Ash and settle into an evening strayline session. The fish at this location were obvious pro's, as we were often taken into the bricks and busted off. We learnt quickly that you don't give them any time to just 'skull drag' then straight up from the bottom. This technique was crude but it helped me land a good snapper of around 4kg.

Sunday morning was our last chance for a decent session. The crew were on the water early, with a couple of hardy souls (Pete and Ash) heading out before sunrise. No one had yet landed a legal kingfish so the pressure was on to catch a fish and claim the trophy. I elected to stay back on shore and tidy up the place, so with the fire roaring I made sure there was a boiling kettle for everyone when they eventually drifted back. Once again the results were mixed, with a few snapper caught, a few hard luck stories, and thankfully one legal kingfish. A big congrats goes to Ash, who fished the most hours out of anyone over the weekend, and ultimately came up with the goods at the 11th hour. He goes home with the trophy and a free spot on the next Kingfish Academy trip...where ever that may be.  
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Photos: Ash Rawlinson taking the honours for the weekend. 

Like the end of any trip, the journey back to the mainland was subdued. Captain Arch suggested that as we were running ahead of schedule, a quick tarakihi session might be worth a shot. No one complained, and after 30 minutes we had 36 fish safely stowed in the bin...the team was stoked!

A big thanks to the 12 guys and girls who made for a fantastic weekend. The fishing didn't prove to be as hot as we'd hoped for, but it was good times, great company, and a stunning location. Bring on the next Kingfish Academy! 

Tim's note: if you're interested in coming on the next trip, please email your details to I'm always receiving requests for mothership trips, so I keep a file of interested parties. Also, if you're interested in organising a group trip out to Mayor Island, perhaps with friends, or as a business group, please contact me for prices. NZ Kayaker is the only kayaking operator who is permitted to use the facilities on the island so you can be sure of a great time.         


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