Saturday, April 23, 2016


Thank you, Pondside, for a comment you left on a recent blog post which reminded me of a similar misadventure years ago. 

It was in winter in the late 80s or early 90s.  I was keeping company with a lovely man from Mangawhai, not far from where I lived.  During the summer months we had enjoyed going floundering at night.  Let me rephrase that – we enjoyed night-time flounder fishing the old fashioned away, with a spear. 

We would wade in shallow water as quietly as possible along the estuary armed with a light held close to the surface of the water.  The flounder is a flat fish which come into very shallow water - sometimes only inches deep - after sunset.   Stalking shallow beach water and estuarine areas by night offers a totally different dimension to fishing. The fish life can be prolific, with mullet, eels and other creatures of the night more common than the skittish flounder, which can be difficult to see, camouflaged against the sand.    When the light is shone on the flounder, they stay very still and should make an easy target.  Well, you’d think it would be easy.  More fun than easy really.  Many flounder lived to swim another day.

When the nights became cooler my companion, Allan, applied himself to thinking up a way we could still go floundering without having our feet in cold, cold water for hours.  He came up with a lamp that operated under water (maybe it was battery operated, I can’t remember) which we could suspend from the front of his kayak.  It worked well.  In theory.  In practise, I found it difficult to gauge the depth of the water while seated in the kayak rather than knowing how far up the legs it came while wading.  I thought I was getting the hang of it when I spotted a BIG flounder and thrust the spear at it.  However, the spear (with me holding on to the end of it) travelled much deeper into the water than I thought it would and I became unbalanced and we tipped into the freezing water.  OK, just very cold.  But far too cold for me.  I screamed and shrieked and then we laughed and laughed as we hurriedly hauled in the kayak, got it on to the car and headed home for a much needed change of clothes and some warmth.  

In those days Mangwhai had a permanent population of about 600 (which was much larger during the summer months) and houses close to where we had lunched the kayak were all holiday homes.  No lights, no-one around.  So we presumed no-one was aware of our misadventure.

A week or so later we were visiting friends who lived on the cliff above the estuary but quite some distance from where we had been.  After a while the man said we should have been at their place during the week.  He and his wife had been watching TV when they heard a blood curdling scream above the sound of the TV.  It came from down on the water and they were alarmed, wondering what on earth was going on down there.  They thought someone was having their throat cut or something equally terrible.  But after a while they heard laughter and voices.  They thought the laughter sounded familiar but hadn’t been able to work out who it belong to.  Allan and I didn’t say a word but must have exchanged a look, or a smile because they then remembered whose laugh it was they had heard.  We had forgotten how sound travels on the water on a still night.  

I know Allan reads my blog.  Do you remember that night, Allan?  Good times!


  1. I see why my comment made you think of this. You were found out! Have you gone floundering since? I think I'd just as soon paddle around in the kayak in the moonlight!

  2. This has brought back memories for me too Pauline!
    Well not me as such but my parents!
    They told the story of floundering at night at Oraka, Mahia Peninsula on their honeymoon.
    My mother mistook my fathers foot for a flounder and speared his foot! He survived!
    A dangerous way of fishing!
    Beautiful photos - is that Mangawhai - it''s beautiful.

  3. A fun, if wet, adventure, with a funny ending! Yes, those times are priceless.

  4. One of the best fishing stories I have heard! I am married to a fisherman and you cannot stop these folks with that addiction. They will try anything!

  5. You're interesting story easily fits in a number of places. You never thought of being noticed.

  6. I loved reading this sweet story Pauline, and such fun, thank you.

  7. As I was reading this I had a very clear picture in my mind! What fun... albeit, very cold fun!


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