How to Kill a Fish in the Face

Trip Start Nov 20, 2006
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Trip End Apr 10, 2009


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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Thursday, May 1, 2008

Sorry in advance for the lack of paragraphs...travlepod screwed me again.  I apologize for nothing else. 

Let us take a walk in the shoes of a man. Nay, a warrior. A conqueror of nations one might say. A beast. A goddamn animal.
His hair is long. This is not a fashion statement so much as a consequence of apathy. Also the realization that it makes him look angry, and on the verge most of the time. His facial hair is likewise. The aboriginal Maori's can appreciate this. His shoes are large, but let us not infer much because of this. We must be truthful. This is no John Holmes we consider, yet no Wee Willy Winky either. He wears sandals often, but prefers his expensive Vasque boots, they are comfortable, with a hard unforgiving sole. When he puts these boots on a quote from George Orwell's book 1984 often comes to mind. "...a boot stamping on a human face. Forever." Despite the grimness of that he has an easy smile and a penchant for joking. He is a joker, his name means joker in japanese. A superb disguise for the subjugator. This man, who some may call friend and even more would call fiend, is in a foreign land. This land is beautiful, with rolling hills, stark mountains, stunning ocean views. This land is an island in the middle of no-where. This land is weak. And soon, it will be his. For he has grand yet deviously simple plans for this lush ripe fruit. He has taken on greater lands with ease and as soon as his...fuck i can't write with this GODDAMN fly flying around. Holy Christ on a cracker I'm going to freaking snap. What do you want fly? Want my poop? Fly? Flys love poop! I'll go poop and bring you some back, fly. You must want something really bad or you wouldnt fly in my face for 30 min straight. Freakin buzzing. Where was I?

Oh right, the Bay of Islands! We arrived in the bay of islands shortly after leaving Pukenothing (Pukenui). We did a brief stopover in Matai bay which was unbelievable, check it out on the net, or google earth. There's two little bays right beside each other with a cliffy peninsula in between. It's like a big inverted pair of boobies where the cleavage is the peninsula and the bays are the boobies. He he Boobies. Yeah! We left Matai after 2 nights and we were off to Kerikeri. We had lined up jobs pruning some sort of plant called Feijoa or some such Maori nonsense. I planned to stomp on each shrub and demand payment between every shrub. Such was my disillusionment with orchard work. Almost immediately though, upon arrival in Kerikeri, the manager of our first campground (The Hideaway Lodge, 4 outta 5) had us better jobs, me doing construction, and Celina pruning Kiwi's. What joy! Our stay in kerikeri quickly degenerated into a sedentary and relaxed life. I built our campsite into a long term accommodation, including a small deck and even planted flowers. They died post-haste. My construction job was good. Once I got over the whole "YOUR A BACKPACKER YOU MUST BE A MORON" attitude i settled down into a monotony of simplistic irresponsibility. Oil the wood, wipe the wood off. Sand the wood too. Make it pretty. Carpenteria. Gulf of Carpenteria...beautiful place our pearl boat in Aussie almost went...even writing about my construction work my mind wanders. The saving grace of this job was the view. A long slowly widening valley dropping off into a wavy ocean. The greens were greener than an envious amateur leprechaun. Easily the greatest side effect of this job turned out to be the home it led us to. A man I worked with named Ben, one day told me he may have a flat to rent us. I was interested but his description of the place left a bit to be desired. A week later we came to check it out and I literally couldn't stop grinning. For 10 dollars more a week we could move out of our tent and public kitchen existence and move into a great little studio apartment with a great deck, seclusion, a garden and ferns everywhere. The Jungle Bungalow. Jungalow. It was an utter joy to move in to. Grapes growing on the deck, a newly ripening fig tree and numerous fresh herbs to cook with. Bay leaves, basil, parsley oregano etc etc. We had found a slice of paradise. Rock On Paradise. Rock On. It took us a while to get used to the fact that this place ran on solar power, (filthy hippys) so most of the time we had to really pay attention to our usage, rainy days and some nights the generator had to be fired up. The fridge and water heater ran on propane. Also the tiny little two burner stove/oven. By this point we had gotten into hardcore work all the time mode. Which was good, the weather was rainy, and even if we wanted to do something other than work we hadn't the money...so work it was. Celina kicked ass with the kiwi growing business and I continued on with construction and working on the homeowners farm, mostly wandering around in a gorgeous valley chopping down feral plants. You see this farm was ORGANIC (oo la la) as opposed to those filthy robotic farms where plants are steel and silicon monstrosities. Inorganic Demon Plants From Cybertron, or at least this is how I interpret 'Organich Produce'. And so sprays can't be used. He figures he'll have the place free of non-native plants within 10 years...I figure he's half stupid and half too rich to think straight. Most of the plants I'd cut down come back stronger afterwards...including thistle.

Anyway.

Between bouts of work we'd try find time to fish and spearfish...one day we met up with the neighbour kid who is only about 14. His name is Silvan and he grew up on an 80 foot boat his dad built to sail around the world. He had access to his dad's boat. Not the big one but a much smaller zodiac pontoon boat sorta thing. I liked this idea. We soon organized a trip out to a famous fishing area called Nine Pin. A small but impressive island off the coast of the Kerikeri Inlet with apparently 8 other submerged structures around it. We began by dropping the boat into the water at Opito Bay. After cramming a disturbing amount of gear into the boat we were soon zipping across the ocean under a nice hot sun. Our first spot we wanted to try has a name I cant remember. Doesnt matter. Probably a hippy name. But basically it's a large submerged structure and at low tide the top of the structure is around 15 meters down. After trying for about 10 min to get the boat directly onto the GPS point I had plotted at home we dropped anchor and Silvan (the neighbour guy) jumped over the edge to check the depth. While he dove I gave my jewels some sun and changed into my wetsuit. Just as he climbed back into the boat i noticed something in the water a few meters away. "That's a big shark you were swimming with Silvan." I said casually. "Oh, shit, yeah there is a shark...oh man." He said trying to be casual. The shark was cruising around on the surface apparently interested in what we were doing. We decided that the first dive of the day probably shouldn't be with a 7 foot shark. Off to another GPS point!

Our second location was terribly murky. Spooky murky. Like, can't see the end of my speargun 35 feet under the water murky. We cruised for a bit here and got warmed up diving into the 10 to 15 meter water for around 15 min while Celina got suited up in the boat. By the time she was ready to get in we had had enough and decided to pull anchor and move on. The anchor was wedged so Silvan dove down and loosed it and we were off. At our next location we finally hit pay dirt, after diving along numerous ledges looking for crayfish we started spotting fish. At one point Silvan was on the bottom about 5 meters below me and I spotted a large Red Moki. Not the smartest fish in the world, but hey, I wanted to get my spear bloody. I quietly dove. The trick to this is letting the water enter your snorkel through the mouth piece, hence no bubbles...and then tuck yourself into a ball and thrust your legs into the air, this way your leg weight (and weight belt) push you down. Less movement, less noise. I was soon upside down in an inverted dive and about ten degrees off vertical when I shot the fish. He was swimming across my line of sight at the limit of my gun's range when I put a 2 meter shaft of spring steel into his brain. Twock. His mouth dropped open and his tail twitched once. Where you goin fishy? WHERE YOU GOIN?? Nowhere. I hadn't noticed but in my bloodlust fuelled (and rather triumphant) slaughter of this great beast I had swam right infront of Silvan and cut him off from shooting another fish. He eventually got it but I had a quick reminder to stay out from in front of other spearguns. Hard to hold your breath with holes in your lungs. Turns out Red Moki are not exactly the sportiest of sportfish, and most people leave them because they are so dumb but hey, I had to cut my teeth on something in New Zealand. We soon were back in the boat zipping along to the Nine Pin. A massive steep walled island makes up the center of the formation. We pulled up fairly close but the swell was smashing across a reef creating huge waves at one end. During some wave sets there were easily 4 meter waves coming off that break. Although it was a pretty scary place to park we dropped anchor about 50 meters from the really huge break area...I was nervous because if our anchor came loose and the boat wouldn't start we'd have surely been screwed. I was first in the water and soon realized we had found one of the 'Pins' at 10 meters was the top of a structure with steep cliffs around it dropping off to far deeper than I can dive. There were fish everywhere, Blue Moamoa, tiny snapper, baitfish in huuuge schools and even a few Leatherjackets.  I quickly spotted some mussels growing on top of the structure and was blown away by their size, easily 6 or 7 inches long and half that wide. I started yanking them off the rocks but kept running out of air by the time I'd grabbed one or two. They really hold on by the time they get that big. Silvan told me the big ones aren't good to eat so I stopped with that and got back to spearfishing. He was wrong, but the spearing soon got good so whatever. To try increase the number of fish in the area I shot a couple small Parore and started bleeding them and chopping them up into the water. This also attracts sharks but hey, we hadn't seen one in almost an hour and we're hardcore. Or stupid, or something. This worked great and soon a large school of Kahawai was zipping around us like silver bullets. Almost all of them were over 50 cm and a couple were right at the maximum size Kahawai get to (around 80 cm). I hadn't noticed any of them on my way down but as soon as I hit bottom and turned around to look up I could see them everywhere. I looked for the biggest one I could see and started slowly floating up into the school. He must have gotten spooked by me tracking him with the gun and shot off into the murk. Instantly a similarly sized one slid across my guns 'sights' and I shot. He went berserk. I couldn't believe how that fish fought, he was big for a kahawai but not really that big of a fish. After slowly dragging him in and slogging him up into the boat I was ready for a rest. Silvan was too excited (and having a freezer he was able to handle more fish) so he was back in the water instantly and quickly pegged two great Kahawai. We kept hoping for a school of massive kingfish to show up but had no luck in that department, and while a lot of people don't consider Kahawai a great table fish they obviously didn't grow up eating jackfish out of a swamp in northern Alberta. Our day soon came to a close, with around 9 fish dead or dying all told. Dominated. We cruised back into Opito bay under a bright red sunset and were off through the hills. Towing the boat through said hills was the first time we noticed our clutch was going. Yay 1100 dollars down the drain! Ah well, the day was amazing. So is New Zealand.
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