Subject: New JS Snapper Record
Date: Thursday, 24 January 2008 1:35 AM
Five yakkers, Kev, Jaro, Mal, I and first-timer Terry Nolan met at middle groyne on Monday just before 0600. The weather was ideal (as predicted up to 6 days earlier by www.seabreeze.com.au) almost no wind, sunny initially, then overcast and a brief shower on return. With a big high tide (2.12m) due at 0715, there was a 1m shore break happening, but this was negotiated successfully by all five yakkers on the western (lee) side of the groyne, with only two copping a bit of a wet arse due to a miss-timed run.
After rigging our rods/reels, setting GPSs and checking comms with our new VHF marine transceivers (between Kev, Terry and me), we all arrived at Jew Shoal between 0655 and 0710 after a casual 40-50 min paddle. Once at JS we began the now established drifting/casting technique with small jig heads and soft plastic baits utilizing the gentle NW breeze that was now present. I suspect there was also a slight current flowing to the SE, ie, generally in the same direction as the breeze, which meant movement of the kayak relative to the water was quite slow, but quite quick relative to the sea floor - ideal!
Based on our experience a fortnight earlier, I expected there might not be much "action" since the water was still fairly discoloured from all the tannin-coloured storm water flowing into the bay from the recent heavy rainfall. Whilst I wouldn't normally fish with more than one line from the kayak, I decided to increase my chances by trailing a pilchard on a 3-gang hook below a heavily weighted and skirted lure (similar to a "Tailor jig" - see photo) on my heavy trolling line, while also casting the soft plastic on the light gear. I was pleasantly surprised when the heavy line started to "scream" on only my second drift across my favoured "hot spot" about 200m north of the pinnacle (conveniently marked by an anchored dive boat). Although it was obviously a sizeable fish that fought hard (I guessed a snapper), being on my heavy line, I had plenty of leverage over him and was able to reel him to within about 3-4 m of the kayak after a few minutes of rod-bending fun.
Luckily Mal Price was nearby and was able to take my light rod from me so I could bring the fish along side the kayak for lifting (as distinct from gaffing) it into the kayak.
Delighted with this success it was great to be able to call "Sunshiner" and "Drifter" (ie, Kev & Terry) on the radio and tell them I had just set a new record for the biggest snapper caught from a kayak at JS. Up to that point no one else had had even a bite. This would probably explain why I received no reply from Drifter, and Sunshiner sounded decidedly glum, but there was a sudden concentration of kayaks around my "hot spot". Buoyed by this success I boated two more nice sized keeper snappers and a black tipped rock cod on successive drifts over my hot spot using a slightly heavier 1/4 oz jig head and white-coloured soft plastic baits (possibly a bit more conspicuous in the discoloured water). I think it was after my second catch that Mal Price started paddling back to Main Beach mumbling something about preferring to have a game of golf.
At 0845 I decided I had caught sufficient and decided to head back to Main Beach, knowing I would have some fish gutting to do on return. Jaro, Kev and Terry decided to stay for about another 30 mins as they had not caught anything up to that point. Kev and Jaro subsequently reported on return that they had caught and released a small snapper and rock cod respectively before leaving JS.
Upon our return to Middle Groyne the shore break had reduced and we all came through without being rolled. We were greeted by Harvey who took a number of photos, a selection of the more important ones, ie, those showing my 70 cm JS snapper record are attached.
The only other thing to report is that the VHF marine radios are terrific. We could communicate clearly yak-to-yak on Channel 09 with no other traffic using this channel, and we could clearly hear the ship-to-shore Coastguard traffic on Ch 22, all with minimum squelch, low volume and low power (1 watt) transmission.
(Call sign on VHF Ch 09)