On 26 December 2014 I participated in a fishing expedition on a former commercial fishing boat. It was of the old kind: Small and suitable to bring in a day’s worth of catch. These boats are not used today anymore since the fishermen can fish against a quota. The boats are much bigger and more efficient. Besides fishing for blue cod and shellfish, there is a lot of crayfishing around Stewart Island. Apparently, instead of bringing all crayfish ashore and process them in a factory, they are left in pods in the bays until they can be processed and shipped.
A Belgian family of eight (parents and four little children who live in Dunedin and grandparents who are over for a visit) joined in on the trip and the crew consisted of the skipper and his deckhand. Fortunately, the rain had stopped right when we set out, and it got very sunny and warm halfway through. We drove close to the Muttonbird Islands in Paterson Inlet, and soon enough were joined by curious albatrosses who were hanging out just in case there were some fish scraps that we didn’t need anymore. They were all New Zealand White-capped Albatrosses, but I also saw a Salvin’s Albatross briefly, and a Northern Giant Petrel came to the party, too, besides some gulls.
We fished in a very simple way with hand-lines that had two hooks each and weights so that they sunk. We threw them into the water deeply until the line almost hit the bottom, and sure enough caught some fish quickly thereafter. I caught about 7 fish, but we had to release a couple because they were too small, and fishing rules didn’t allow us to keep them.
The skipper deboned and filleted the fish right on deck and we had a taste of them cooked in water and butter in the little cabin before we headed back the long way passing by a few islands to watch for seals and penguins. We saw a few Fur Seals as well as a bunch of Little Blue Penguins swimming in the water.
After returning to Oban, I put on a new layer of sunscreen and sandfly repellent and headed to Ringaringa Beach and Evening Cove to view these as they were local trails. Ringaringa Beach was closed from accessing due to unstable cliffs. So I quickly continued on to Evening Cove, which was pretty as a picture. It took the sandflies a little while to realize that a human had arrived, and thus I enjoyed a bit of beach combing and feet cooling before heading back to town.
There I could observe an Oystercatcher family at the beach searching for food. Mom and dad were very, very protective of their little chick and came charging at me, fluttering, screeching loudly and ready to pick at me with their beaks had I attempted to move one step closer to the water’s edge where their little one was wading.
If you want to read more about my vacation on Stewart Island, check out the following posts:
- Heading to the anchor of New Zealand
- Talkative forest
- From bay to bay
- 81 mouse traps to Māori Beach
- Albatrosses aplenty
- Of bays and forest around Oban
- Christmas Day: A horseshoe and a dead man
- A word on sandflies
- A Local’s Tail and take-off
- Stewart Island / Rakiura in photos and videos
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