Subject: fishing today -- 30jun09. Wow!
Date: Tuesday, 30 June 2009 5:30 PM
The typical winter weather continuing, today had an ideal forecast for an offshore trip so off we went again. Jimbo, Harry, madcow and I. Despite the chilly weather all were keen, as demonstrated by the fact that I was last of the four into the carpark, and I was 10 minutes early!
Fantastic conditions once again. We were also aware, from yesterday's recce by yours truly, that there were tuna hammering baitfish in Laguna Bay so I guess we were ready for anything...
Before long we were all meandering toward the shoal with baitfish schools, as indicated by fluttering terns and starkly white splashes, being harrassed by mainly tiny tuna all along the route. I was trolling one of my old favourites which had taken many a ride with me and helped deliver some great fish, including a 1.3m spanish mack back in January. It cost me $5 in BigW and owed me nothing, which was fortunate. Being aware from Seabreeze that the wind at DI Point was westerly I opted to head for A3 01, one of my favourite marks on the western side of Jew Shoal proper. A drift from there with a westerly breeze takes a yak right across the main part of the shoal, so it's a good choice in such conditions I reckon. Anyway, I was just arriving at the mark and about to pull in my trolled lure when it went off, big time, the drag of my ancient ABU 10000C howling. A minute or so earlier, as I approached the mark, I noted a tern searching and swooping and also a quite large splash as a predator made short work of some poor bloody baitfish right in my path so I wasn't really surprised when I got the strike. I picked up the rod, leant into the fish and felt the initial surge slow then stop then off it went again. Then nothing... not even the weight of the lure. I retrieved what was left and here's what I found...
That's fishing. As I said, the lure owed me nothing. The breeze was perfect for the drift so without further ado I got down to the business of trying to extract a snapper or sweetlip from the depths of the reef. I had high hopes of success today but those hopes were beginning to be blunted a little when neither I nor anyone else had caught anything significant in the first 30 minutes or so. Then the radio blared -- Harry announced that he'd caught a nice snapper (on fish bait) and that his fishing gear and yak were no longer for sale as the drought had broken. This gave those on radio some heart. I finished the first drift, went back for another then half way through opted to try some deeper water to the north which was rich with GPS marks from previous successes. Jaro, you know where this area is, I'm sure. Brian and I both had the same idea, as I noticed as soon as I turned my yak toward the mark.
Barely had I arrived there than the radio blared again -- Jimbo announcing that "I'm into something big here!". Hmmm -- should I go back to where Jim is? No, I'll stick with this spot.
Some time passed during which Jim announced that he could identify the hooked fish -- a 1.2m shark (an excellent estimate of size as it later transpired) - but once it had seen the yak it had shot through again. So Jim's tussle continued. Eventually he announced by radio that he had the creature under some sort of control on the yak. And shortly after that he could be seen paddling toward Brian and me presumably for purposes of recording the catch photographically. Our shark handling expert is Brian and Jim happened upon him first and under his tutelage Jim bled the shark in the approved manner to improve its eating quality. While they were engaged in this task a whale breached spectacularly some 500m away to the east and I called Jim to warn him to keep an eye out in case the whale headed toward us. Having finished doctoring the shark, Jim then paddled over toward me, the shark draped over the bow of his yak. Just as he approached me my soft plastic bait was hit by a mini express train and after a tussle a decent snapper came into the yak.
Jim paddled closer and I took the opportunity to capture a pic or two of him with his shark...
I then acquainted Jim and Brian with my drift line which had produced my snapper and they decided to fish the same area, as did Harry who paddled over from the SW part of the reef.
A couple of minutes later, having drifted off and then paddled back the 100m or so to the GPS mark where I hooked the snapper I immediately hooked up again, this time a smaller, but keeper, snapper, also on a soft plastic.
At this, Jim, Brian and Harry concluded that maybe this was a good spot and so we worked the area over together, drifting gently downwind and casting our jigs into the ~20m depth.
On the second return to the mark I got another typical snapper strike at almost exactly the same place but the hook pulled loose after the first few seconds as the fish surged away against the drag. So clearly the snapper were "on" at this spot.
Harry was next, I think, boating his second snapper for the day, this time on a soft plastic which he must have extracted from some dark place as he mentioned to us earlier that we should shove our soft plastics...
The day was magnificent with a near cloudless sky, clean water, very slight sea and breeze of less than 5 knots, just enough to ruffle the surface. How good was this, and whales too!
Harry having stowed his snapper, cast his soft plastic again and I recall looking over at him and seeing his rod bent into a startling curve as he was towed behind a hooked fish toward the north. This would have been around 1030. Five minutes later he was still fighting this fish so I stopped fishing to join him with the hope of perhaps capturing some interesting video. Clearly, if this fish was a snapper it was huge, so video of the event would be highly prized. My first piece of video was started at 1035 when he'd already been fighting the fish for several minutes. My last piece of video started at 1100 hrs and although the fight was nearing its climax at that time, the fish was still displaying admirable strength and energy while Harry's reel drag was starting to smoke (perhaps I exaggerate a little here, but you get the message). During this 25 minutes or so the fish came near the surface once, close enough for me to identify it as a Longtail tuna, probably around 1m long. And Harry was fighting this fish with his light snapper outfit, 12lb monofilament and threadline reel. Sometime around 1105 the knot parted and the tuna went on its own way, bearing Harry's jig as a campaign medal. I extracted a few shots from the video movies I shot:
All the while this was going on Harry had been towed some 600m (measured in a straight line) from where he'd originally hooked up and whales were appearing from time to time, sometimes as close as 200 metres away. Toward the end of the fight Jim had joined Harry and me out there and still had his shark draped over his yak...
We three paddled back to the mark that I'd been using earlier and as I passed over the mark I saw fish indications on the sounder display which prompted Jim to try once more for a snapper as he hadn't caught one on a soft plastic "this year" (his words). First cast he was in and he shortly boated a very nice snapper to add to his shark as take home catch.
Shortly after this, with Harry having left early as he had a 1.00pm appointment for which his yakking attire wouldn't have been appropriate, Jim and I decided that we'd better go. After all, we had a bit of cleaning up to do before getting ready for our next gig at the Sunshine Beach Surf Club tonight. We picked up Brian on the way back and hit the beach around 1235 where the chick magnetism kicked in once more and we, especially Jim, were mobbed by admirers and wannabes.
And finally, the snapper taken by Brian, Jim and me... everyone got at least one snapper today
Another wonderful day. Oh and I must tell you about one of the spectators today. She asked me if I were the tour guide for the kayak fishing tour. Honestly, do I look like a tour guide? She seemed puzzled when I explained that we were mates who fish together often and that is the way we fish -- with kayaks. The concept of people fishing while not on an organised and paid for tour seemed difficult for her to grasp. What's the world coming to?
Too knackered and busy to go out tomorrow but hoping for good weather later in the week! Over to you, Jaro... sorry you weren't there today.
Red & Yellow Espri, black paddle
VHF channel 09 or 22 (if alone), Call Sign: sunshiner