Tauranga Flats Kingfish on my Vintage Glass Fenwick Feralite FF 858

Flats kingfish on my my Fenwick Feralite FF 858, Redington Grande 789, (a kingfish virgin) and Scientific Anglers Mastery Redfish Coldwater WF8F.
Flats kingfish on my my Fenwick Feralite FF 858, Redington Grande 789, (a kingfish virgin) and Scientific Anglers Mastery Redfish Coldwater WF8F.

Tauranga Flats Kingfish on my Vintage Glass Fenwick Feralite FF 858

By Dick Marquand

Some of you will know of my love for vintage glass fly rods, particularly the Fenwick Feralite series that were made in the USA in the 1960s and 1970s. Kilwell in Rotorua imported the glass Fenwick Feralite blanks and built the rods under licence to the parent company. Tauranga Flats Kingfish.

I have caught kings on some of my Feralites, but not my FF 85 (8’6″ #7) and my FF 858 (8’6″ #8). Yesterday it was the turn of the FF 858 to get bent on a flats king.

One of my home tied sparse clouser flies, a proven pattern for flats kings. Tauranga Flats Kingfish.
One of my home tied sparse clouser flies, a proven pattern for flats kings.

I headed out to the Otumoetai Channel edge where I was supposed to meet up with Greg Doust.

It was an average fishing day, with cloud reflection on the water making visibility out to the west more than challenging. The wind was a nasty moderate northeaster.

My gear yesterday was my Fenwick Feralite FF 858, Redington Grande 789, (a kingfish virgin), Scientific Anglers Mastery Redfish Coldwater WF8F, Maxima Ultragreen 20 pound leader, and a home tied sparse clouser. The Redfish fly line was a gift from my friend Kriss Stravs. It is a hard wearing line, and a perfect choice for flats kings. I love it. Collingwood Flats Kingfish, Nelson.

Redington Grande 789 fly reel.
Redington Grande 789 fly reel.

At 1540hrs, I saw a medium size short tail travelling along the edge of the channel slope from west to east. There were no riding kings.

At around 1555hrs there was an explosive splash about 30 metres northeast of my position. About a minute later, there was another explosive splash about 20 metres northwest of my position.

I looked hard and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Two small stationary yellow objects poked about 5mm above the water’s surface. I recognised these as the tip of the tail and the tip of the dorsal fin of a yellowtail kingfish.

The big yellow propeller. Tail of a Tauranga Flats kingfish.
The big yellow propeller. Tail of a Tauranga Flats kingfish.

I cast and put the clouser slightly in front and to the side of the fish. The rod immediately loaded, practically as the fly hit the water. I struck hard and the old glass rod bent down in a nice arc. The king fought well but was unable to withstand the drag of the Grande.

I decided to lead the king to the water’s edge. In my opinion, this is far less stressful for the fish. I was rapt, a first for the FF 858 and the Grande. I photographed the king and released it, then made my way back to the end of Otumoetai Road.

The beautiful Fenwick eagle logo. If I ever get a tattoo, this would be my choice.
The beautiful Fenwick eagle logo. If I ever get a tattoo, this would be my choice.

So Greg, if that was you at the “blue tongue,” my apologies, I was too knackered to wade back out and across to you.

When you spend time on the flats, the unexpected can happen and you must be ready to do an accurate cast at short notice. Be locked and loaded, and you will eventually get your opportunity.

Redington Grande 789 fly reel

Kingfish after release.
Kingfish after release.