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Meet The Crew | Tony Wood

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This month we caught up with Tony Wood from Moocher Hunters. Tony is an avid angler from Waiheke Island and a huge advocate for catch and release fishing. The respect and care Tony takes with his quarry is admirable, leading him to become an industry leader known for releasing fish in the best possible condition. As the name suggests, Tony gets amongst his fair share of moochers off the bricks. Whether it's flicking lures or a well presented bait, Tony and big snapper go hand in hand! 
I started Moocher Hunters back in 2011 as an alternative to traditional fishing competitions. I wanted a platform where fishermen could compete with each other, share their successes and still release fish in great condition. As the Moocher Hunters brand has grown over the years the focus has always remained the same - sustainable fishing through catch and release. My aim as a fisherman has always been to set a good example - especially for the next generation coming through. I want to show people that you can enjoy all the benefits of our fishery, without having a massive impact on it.  
Fishing area of speciality/favourite type of fishing
If I had to pick one style of fishing it would be throwing lures from the rocks. Covering a piece of coast with minimal gear, casting softbaits into any fishy looking area has proved to be a super effective and rewarding style of fishing for me. I love the challenge that lure fishing presents, especially land based where there are so many obstacles to landing a good fish. You really need to have your wits about you (and nimble feet) when fighting a good fish.  Over summer my focus shifts to topwater lures and kingfish. It is hard to beat a kingfish smashing a stickbait right at your feet. The fights are always hectic and success is never guaranteed. 
Most memorable catch
My first 80cm snapper off the rocks nailed a softbait in shallow, gnarly country. The fish hit the lure hard on the drop and tore off towards nearby structure which had me scrambling across the ledge searching for a better line angle, hand on the spool and heart in my throat. There were moments when I could feel the braid rubbing on kelp and was just waiting for the line to snap. Somehow though, the fish stayed connected and after what felt like the longest fight ever, a beautiful bronze beast emerged at my feet. A prime fish with a gut like a rugby ball.  An 80cm snapper had long been the holy grail of fish for me - so to land one on softbait gear, solo, and successfully release it back in great condition was a fishing memory that I won't be forgetting anytime soon.
Daiwa essentials
My TD Slugger and Certate 4000 go on every fishing trip with me. This combo has accounted for some of my best snapper off the rocks throwing softbaits and slab baits. It is just such a versatile combo - light enough to cast 1/4oz jigheads and yet capable of throwing 50g stickbaits. The Certate has the stopping power to turn a big snapper's head and the drag is smooth enough to withstand those powerful kingfish runs. When it comes to topwater season it's hard to look past the Saltiga 14000 and Saltiga C83mhs combo -  so much power and yet so light that you can cast all day. The rod has an epic action for getting the most movement out of stickbaits but also has the power in its lower section to lift a fish through the last part of the water column at the ledge. More recently, the new baitjunkie minnows in the tiny 2.5 and 3.2 inch sizes. The snapper just smash these things - so much fun in the super shallows. Takasagi is my new colour of choice!

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