Steve Dickinson writes that sometimes the best thing you can do is invoke the ’10-knot clause’ and go fishing, even if it is Friday.

You know, it does not matter what you do as a job – digging holes, plumbing pipes or selling advertising. No matter what you do, you get weeks when it all turns to custard, you don’t get a break, and as soon as you put out one fire, another one flares up.

That’s how our week was: one fire after another, followed by yet another!

But then we looked a few days ahead and saw a small window of calm coming when the tides were right, the winds were forecast light and water temperature were trending upwards.

So, Greg and I decided to leave the stresses of work behind, and like two naughty schoolboys, we bunked off Friday.

Steve with a nice king.

We got an inkling of how good the day was going to be when we pushed off the boat ramp at Whangamata and the shallows burst into life with sprats scattering everywhere. A smile, a raising of expectant eyebrows, and we were off.

As we rounded the headland the expanse of the water was nothing but blue from the Mayor to the Aldermans, and as is so often the case with this stretch of water, there was an uncomfortable chop.

We know a wee reef about 50 minutes from the ramp that does not get hit very often.

We call it ‘Jackpot’, for good reason.

GPS positioning locked in, we headed straight in that direction.

However, as we approached the aptly named Dirty Dodger (a well-known large reef system), where the water goes from 40m to around 26m, there like a blazing sun on the fish-finder was a ball as big as an orange.

“Better give that a crack!”

We were already geared up with 400g long jigs for the deeper water, fishing plus 80lb braid with 100lb mono leaders. First drop, boom! Greg was nearly dragged over the side of the boat. The drag was screaming, the boys were laughing and the ‘shit week’ was vanishing.

I reeled in, got the net, the gaff and the gloves, and strapped the gimbal around Greg’s waist – always an uncomfortable man moment. And no sooner was the rod was in the belt, when the line parted and the fish was gone!

We wound it in to see it if the fish had been chewed off. There are a lot of big sharks in this area and barracouta too, but judging by the dead weight and straight run performance, the first loss of the day was almost certainly a big Noah.

Back fishing again, Greg chose to go down to a 300g blue jig. I stayed with the pink 400g jig and second drop, before the jig even hit the bottom, the rod buckled over in my hands, the fish on the end of the line this time showing less straight line pulling and more of the traditional kingie rampage.

After much yelling, anticipation and excitement, our fist kingie of the day was on ice. At around 80cm, it fitted nicely in the icebox.

We have found that icing the fish makes a massive difference to the texture and taste of kingfish. It completely changes the quality of the fish if you keep it chilled. We use salt ice because we have found over the years, as I am sure many of you know, it just lasts so much longer on those long, hot, summer days.

By the time we had got this fish on board and iced him down the situation had changed and the fish had moved on. This was very much the pattern for the rest of the day: we would find the school, either on the sounder or, alerted by the birds, on the surface. The school would stay active for a very short burst and then move.

We continued to travel over the shallower reef area and soon realised there was no need to go any further: ahead of us was a bombardment of gannets smashing the water – the surface looked like a river rapid.

As we slowly closed in with the wind behind us, we could see the backs of large sea-going kahawai packed together like giant sardines. Every so often they would erupt as something obviously much larger made a major move on them.

As we looked around we could see several workups all happening at the same time, but unlike on previous visits to this area, the workup would start and vanish within a few minutes.

It didn’t take us long to realise the more successful workups were the ones with the most action. These tended to be the tightest and often the smallest and most orbital. We assumed that these tighter groups were being herded by predatory fish.

We drifted into one tight mass of raging fish and dropped jigs to around 15 metres; the sounder had so many dark eyebrows on it, it looked like a Spanish football team.

First drop and we both got hit at the same time. We had learnt from previous occasions and now wear our gimbals with pride. The braid is so sensitive I could feel the hook in my kingie actually slipping until it came loose.

Gutted, I turned to Greg who smiled and said, “I’ve got a small one.” I replied in the affirmative and laughed. We were having fun!

Greg with a kingfish too big to lift.

Suddenly his rod went from bent to ‘’Holy Mackerel!’ and it looked like he was being dragged over the side – this big boy just woke up!

An old school Cresta Craft, while it might not have porta-loos and a coffee maker, does have great padded gunnels to brace yourself against. And brace is what Greg did for a solid 30 minutes! This horse of a fish came to the boat and then dragged out 50 metres of line without any effort.

Back to the boat it came and out it went again; back to the boat, then gone! A flash of colour, then gone.

Eventually the bend in the rod was not as dramatic and the line started to come in and stay on the reel. As this beast finally approached the side of the boat we realised that the net and our gaff were not going to cut the mustard.

Gloves on, we eased the fish alongside and the fish slowly laid itself against the side of the boat like Moby Dick. We could see our reflection in his great eye and it did remind me of Melville’s book: “In his fiery eyes of scorn and triumph you then saw Ahab in all his fatal pride…” – Moby Dick.

Gloved hands on tail and in the fish’s mouth, we struggled to lift it into the boat. Then, in stunned disbelief, there was a moment of silence and heavy breathing followed by yells and high-fives all round!

As Greg picked it up by the tail for the picture, his classic somewhat pragmatic comment was: “I always wanted to catch fish I couldn’t lift!”

Photos taken, we gently placed Moby Dick back in the water where he burst to life and swam away. If felt good to let a big fish go, not because we are core environmentalists, but simply because it would not fit in the chilly bin, and anyway, it was only 8.30am – we had the rest of the day to come yet.

But we both agreed it was a great way to turn around a rubbish week!