LURE TALK WITH PETER PAKULA
“In solo game-fishing, there are no points, no trophies and no public acclaim.”
It’s normal in my business to dart out and test lures as soon as the prototypes are ready. On April 1st, 1992, the new Mosquito was ready to rock. I grabbed one and ducked out in Cockroach, my Haines Hunter 445F, to give it a swim. Normally I don’t put hooks in prototypes as I usually only have the one, but this time I’d made a back-up.
This was going to be my first time solo at sea. Quite simply, the ocean had always scared the hell out of me. Furthermore, most of my prior fishing experience had been club-related, and witnesses were always necessary to have tags or captures count. This day would change my whole outlook on fishing and promote the solo experience to the biggest source of adrenaline this particular fisherman had ever encountered.
I hadn’t been trolling long before a rampaging sailfish securely attached itself to my new Mosquito. The next hour showed a great number of weak links in what I thought was a highly refined plan, and stimulated the development of a solo game-fishing system. Although it’s still evolving today, it’s a lot more reliable than it was during the chaotic capture of that sail!
Solo game-fishing is nothing new. Throughout the world, natives in dugout canoes have been tackling monster fish successfully for thousands of years. Of course, everyone can share the deep feelings for Santiago in Hemingway’s classic The Old Man and the Sea. Indeed, it’s hard to stop scenes from the book replaying in the back of the mind every time I encounter a large predator while fishing solo. Further inspiration came from a Kiwi chap I met. In his mid-teens, he’d crossed the wild Manukau Harbour bar on the west coast of the North Island and returned with a pair of enormous striped marlin while fishing solo.
In solo game-fishing, there are no points, no trophies and no public acclaim. There is no-one there to see how good you are; nobody to help out in a tight situation. There’s only you. You are both the strongest and the weakest link in the system. It is just you, the sea and the fish. To me, it’s the ultimate form of fishing and the ultimate adrenaline rush.
TOP 5 TIPS FOR GAME-FISHING SOLO
- When you hook up, it’s too late to do any preparation. Make sure you have a plan and everything is set up prior to putting a lure in the water.
- To enable tagging or gaffing off the rod tip, lure leaders should be shorter than the tag pole. On the other hand, doubles should be as long as possible to aid in raising the fish.
- Use both a gimbal and harness ‑ even on extra-light tackle. At certain points, you’ll need both hands free to handle equipment and drive the boat.
- Once you’re hooked up, the reality is that for the first minute or so you have no control whatsoever, so take advantage of this time and clear some of the other rods. Make sure to stow all the leaders and lures off the deck.
- A great deal of the initial fight involves positioning the boat in accordance with a simple set of rules:
- The boat should be down-current of the fish.
- The motor should never be in neutral.
- Most of the fight is completed while driving away from or intercepting the fish, keeping the pressure on and the hooks in.
- Don’t worry about losing line, your reel has hundreds of metres of it and it’s only a problem when you lose the last metre.
- Never back the reel to below strike drag.
- Stay cool and be aware that the last thing you want is a green fish in the water beside you. Getting fish quickly while solo fishing is a recipe for injury. Personal experience backs up this point!