Sunday, March 29, 2009

Jet-boating up the Lake.

Yesterday morning we shot up the lake to try and catch a couple of trout. My friend and his kids took their jet-boat. It seats about 8 people and is powered by 350 HP Chevrolet engine. This boat has so much power and can easily do 100 km/ph across the water. We arrived at the top of the lake and after a few minutes I thought I spotted a huge trout, cruising over the weedbeds. But after a closer look, discovered it was a big eel checking out the boat. The boys tried to catch him but he was too clever for them.

The edge of the lake drops from 1 metre to 20 metres deep in 3 metres distance. The water is crystal clear and so deep you cannot see the bottom.We all started fishing around the boat. The children through out a variety of flies and metal lures. I used a type 3 sinking line and a green wooley bugger. (My favourite lake prospecting combination.)

Nothing much was happening and the sandflies (biting flies) were getting excited about their new lunch dates. I decided to move further along the shore towards a small bay. When I arrived I saw a fish cruising through the bay. It was a hungry rainbow trout. It took my streamer, pulling the line out of my hand as it took aggressively. Later that morning I caught a brown trout on the same fly, at 4 lbs it was slightly bigger than the first fish. Both of them were kept for the children.

The boys enjoyed exploring the lake edge playing with Toi-toi flowers and deciding how to divide up the fish. On the way home, we stopped and fished at a couple of stream mouths, failing to catch any more trout, but enjoying the weather and the power of the boat.

It was good to get out and enjoy the last of the sunny weather as autumn quickly approaches.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


This weekend at our local airfield the gyro-copter club were enjoying a sunny day to show off their flying machines. Ranging from $30 000 to $100 000 NZ dollars these are definitely the cheapest and closest thing you'll get to a helicopter. The main difference is that the main rotor blades are not powered by a motor during flight. The main blades are powered up just before take off so that they are spinning while taxing along the runway. They can be landed on a short strip of 10 metres, but need a longish taxing distance during take off. If you have a good breeze this shortens the distance needed.
A smoothish runway is best and grass is preferred because sand and fine stones can be flicked into the propeller causing damage. These machines can bank, turn and maneuver like a helicopter, they can be landed quite steeply but do require some taxing room. Most of these are powered by Subaru car engines. Some of them are fuel injected and turbo charged. In some cases the seat is actually the fuel tank. They fuel can last up to 2 or more hours flying.
Some have small nose cones, while others brave the elements sitting out in front with no protection from the elements. One pilot flew done from Wanganui in his, across Cook Straight, stopping once for fuel. His machine is the Rolls Royce of Gyro-copters. Its the orange twin seater you can see. This model costs $100 000NZ dollars. One pilot said, "You need a head full of saw-dust to go up in one of these!"

As a fishing vehicle it has its limitations. One pilot regularly uses his for mustering sheep on his farm. Another said deer shooting would be possible if you had a hand gun! These are a fun way to fly and most people buy them for the sheer thrill of flying. Some of the pilots also fly other types of aircraft.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Grilled Eel

On my travels to Japan I discovered what can be done to turn eels into a taste sensation. Nagoya is famous for Hitsumabushi. It's a grilled eel on top of a bed of rice, that is accompanied by a small pot of tea, Nori (seaweed) and fresh Wasabi (Horse Raddish). It is considered quite a delicacy in Japan. The eel can be eaten as is or mixed with the Nori and Wasabi. The final part of the meal is eaten with the soup mixed in. The best part of this wonderful meal in my mind is the grilled eel. Its coated in a special sweet sauce and grilled over charcoal. The sauce compliments the unique flavour of the eel. I took up the challenge of trying to cook the same recipe at home here in NZ.
I'm pleased to say it turned out well. The only thing I would do differently next time is to remove all of the skin.

The recipe for the sauce is as follows;
Mirin - Japanese famous sauce which containing Sake and Sugar
More Sake and Sugar
Stock boiled from the eels head if you want to go there.
Soy Sauce last
Heat Sake and sugar first with the eel head or small piece of meat, then add soy sauce and sugar.
This thickens up and becomes quite thick like honey.

Once you have prepared the sauce, just place the eel on bamboo sticks and grill. Dip the eel regularly into the sauce and keep turning over the heat. The sauce caramelises on the eel.
This is so delicious, but remember to remove all of the eels skin. The skin is awful to eat.

Of course the best bait for eels is a big old trout head!! When they grab it, they just don't want to let go, you don't even need a hook.