Subject: Fishing today -- 24Nov08
Date: Monday, 24 November 2008 3:33 PM
Read this and weep. I am (weeping) as I write.
Tide: High -- 0552, 1.69; Low: 1158, 0.64. Wind: west 10knots. No significant swell in the Bay. Clear sky, clean blue water
Three of us set out from Middle Groyne this morning, with flat waters inshore and a jagged horizon which hinted of a stiffer breeze out wider.
We'd agreed that conditions were good for a paddle to Halls Reef via Little Hall's Reef, a distance of just over 5km. The 3 km or so to Little Halls was knocked over quite quickly as we're all conditioned to the standard 3.7km to Jew Shoal. There were no fish obviously feeding on the surface so, after pausing briefly to regroup, we pressed on to Halls Reef, a further 2km depending on marks used, punching into a steady breeze from the W-NW. I hadn't had my depth sounder last time I'd been out here so was interested in finding out what the bottom was like.
As we travelled we saw signs of a couple of small schools of pelagics feeding, but not enough to cause the terns to congregate and not enough to cause us to deviate from our course; and just before arrival at Hall's, Steve radioed that he'd hooked up on his trolling outfit. This fish turned out to be a very small bonito.
My mark, depth around 18m, at Hall's turned out to be relatively featureless on the sounder, but I have caught reefies out there so clearly it has a gravel or rubble bottom. Later as I drifted with the breeze, or paddled back up to restart a drift I saw unmistakeable signs on the sounder of rock shelves and lumpy bits, but it wasn't anywhere near as topographically interesting as Jew Shoal. Having arrived at Hall's at about 0630-ish, the three of us went to our own chosen locations and started drifting in the usual style. Conditions were perfect with a good breeze to power our drifts and clear water with no sign of tricho.
Just after we arrived at Hall's we all became aware of chatter on the radio. Normally our chosen channel is quiet except for our usage. Today however, a couple of other guys were on it and they were banging on about non-urgent medical problems and other trivia making it very difficult for us to get a word in. Even after I asked them politely to reduce chatter they kept it up. And so we changed to Channel 10 which proved to have no traffic.
By about 0800 none of us had any fish, nor even a bite and we could all feel the pull of Jew Shoal, at this time ~3km distant and down wind so we opted to travel to more familiar territory. On arrival at JS at 0845 I started to retrieve my trolled lure and immediately hooked up to a small bonito which I released after taking a pic. Shortly afterward, the reef received a visit from the Water Police who first checked the safety gear on a large power boat nearby and then approached Steve, checking that he had appropriate safety gear and no undersize fish. Steve passed the test and the police then moved off to other boats without checking Jaro and me.
In familiar territory now, we started our usual fishing technique. Result: just like Hall's Reef: nothing. At around 0930, with no hits at all for any of us and the only remarkable fishing event being a near miss from a small yellowtail king which came rocketing up to the yak to get a closer look at my jig as it was being retrieved, I decided to prospect to the east and south to see if there were any new territory which could be revealed by the sounder. Jaro and Steve decided to stick around JS central.
By 1015 I was in Granite Bay, unsuccesssfully trying to entice bream in the beautifully clear 3m deep water over the rock shelves there. The radio blared. Jaro reports that he's caught a nice snapper -- 45cm. Good for him I thought. I was tempted to return to JS but the day was getting warmer and I had to get home to tart myself up for house guests expected this afternoon, so I set course for home.
I'd just arrived at the shark net, the one near Middle Groyne, when the radio blared again. Jaro again, announcing the capture of a huge sweetlip and huge amounts of activity among the reef fish in the last 45 minutes. Bugger, I thought; but I really couldn't go back. Instead I beached the yak to the east of the groyne, disrobed to my budgie smugglers and plunged into the water for a cooling dip. This indulgence was thoroughly deserved I thought, as my GPS had shown I'd travelled over 18km by paddle this morning.
I get back to the yak and decide to check how Jaro is going, so call him up again. Just as we're discussing things he hooks up again and hurriedly signs off. I turn and drag my yak up the beach. Later I got the opportunity to invite Jaro around when he got in so that I could photograph the main fish in his catch. So here they are:
I understand that Steve caught a sweetlip. We'd all appreciate a brief report from you two, Steve and Jaro, as to the techniques and locations involved today.
As for me, I'm lining up for Jew Shoal again in the morning when my companions from today have to play golf.
Red & Yellow Espri, black paddle
VHF channel 09 or 22 (if alone), Call Sign: sunshiner