Article by Stu Davidson – The Ranfurly Bank is now well recognized as an angler’s Mecca and is a destination proving enormously popular with anglers from around the globe.
New Zealand bottom bouncers have been quick to recognize its potential and many have secured the services and expert knowledge of several Whakatane charter boat skippers.
Situated some distance off the rugged east coast of the North Island, this huge, relatively shallow reef plays host to many species that have since disappeared from other fisheries around our coastline. Protection is afforded by the semi isolation, strong currents and unpredictable weather patterns that frequent this wild fishery. Commercial fishing interests maintain a presence, but the sea floor is unforgiving on bulk gear and methods, so it’s largely left to the recreational fraternity.
Charter trips by those skippers who ply this ground are usually of a three or four day duration. It is very seldom that all the adverse conditions conspire to deny clients at least one days fishing, and when the Bank is firing, only a few hours is usually required to satisfy the appetite of even the most hungry angler.
Catches include prime examples of kingfish, hapuku, sea bass, trumpter, trevally, snapper, blue cod and several other reef-dwelling species.
Courtesy of Lance Magon and the Cova Rose, the following is just a few examples of some backbreaking, but highly memorable catches of sea bass:
Huntly angler, Logan Baxter and his friends from various parts of the country converge on Wkakatane once a year in the hope of catching ‘the big one’. February was no exception and following the previous week’s capture of two sea bass weighing 55 and 59kg, hopes were high as they boarded Cova Rose.
The weather was on their side and it was not long before Logan hooked his prize. It took a hard 20 minutes to land his fish on 37-kg line, but what a reward. Pictured hereabouts is Logan with his NZ open and 37-kg line-class record sea bass weighing 68.4kg.
This next fish pictured is another catch of a lifetime for D Cogen, who landed this fine specimen of 68.8kg on May 21, 2000 also on board the Cova Rose.
This next monster was a catch of significant endurance and pride for Glenn Campbell from Te Puke. On April 26 this year, while fishing on the Cova Rose and again at the Ranfurly Bank, Glenn hooked a double header comprising a 71.8-kg sea bass and a 35-kg hapuku. What was truly remarkable was that Glenn landed his two fish with the use of only one arm. With only the partial use of his left arm, he subdued his catch by nestling the rod in the crook of his right arm and winding for all his might with his left hand. Further, he managed this feat in just less than half an hour.
Glenn is now awaiting news that his claim for a New Zealand 45-kg line-class record has been successful.
Keith Channon, the Whakatane Sportfishing Club weighmaster has witnessed many fine catches, but this one ranks up there with the best.
The final catch is the largest of them all and a fish that beat the angler but lost the day.
Craig Timms who hails from Palmerston North is not a small man, but his surprise catch of a 75.4kg sea bass was just too much compared to the pan-sized snapper he had previously experienced.
Again at the Bank for a three-day charter and aboard Cova Rose, Craig hooked his fish on 37-kg line and soon knew he was in for one hell of a scrap. Time took its toll and unfortunately the angler had to relinquish the rod to his fellow crewmembers who completed the long haul up to the surface. The same day, one of the other anglers landed a 38.2kg bass, completing a very satisfying trip.
This is just a taste of what awaits you at the Ranfurly Bank and is able to be provided by Lance Magon and the Cova Rose.
The other charter boats and skippers that fish this area also have several mouth-watering catches to their credit and include the vessels Pursuit, Cascade, Enchanter, Zambucca and MV Tracker II.
Contact information is provided elsewhere in this magazine so what are you waiting for? The Ranfurly Bank and its ‘fish of a lifetime’ awaits you.