Date: 25/01/2011 1:45 PM
Cloud cover: cloudless (all but, anyway)
Wind direction & speed: light SW, then dropping off to calm, then from NE
Sea state: low swell
current direction & speed: very slight current toward NNE
Participants: Jaro, jimbo, sam, jag-one, turtleboy, hollywood harry, dugout, leroux, pedro, me (10!)
Today was the first decent launch day in a week and so jaro's call to arms attracted a good response, especially as Harry had nailed a beautiful Spaniard last week. Even though it was still quite dark at 0430, when I arrived at the carpark, pedro had already launched. Jaro and jag-one were setting up and then sam turned up about 30 seconds after me. It could get crowded out there...
The 0445am launch was easy even though the low tide led to an occasional small wave breaking before it reached the end of the groyne. The inshore water was still murky and we'd all decided that Jew Shoal was to be the target today so before long, as the light gradually improved and as soon as we were ready, we headed north on a near smooth sea, assisted by the gentlest of SW breezes. Dugout, who'd joined us out the back after launching in the SE corner of the bay, Sam and I formed the second of two small groups and we followed jaro and jag-one out to the shoal. No bird or surface action was apparent and there were no dolphins -- not a good sign.
Right on schedule the edge of the sun's disk peeped over the horizon at 0515 and, noticing that Sam would cross in front of the disk from my viewpoint, I pulled out the camera to record the event. Actually, it's not often that we see the sun's disk at sunrise -- usually there's cloud in the way. At this stage we were 1500 metres short of my chosen mark at Jew Shoal.
Shortly after we started to fish I set up my first drift by paddling to the SW corner of the shoal, intending to drift with the breeze from SW to NE, about 800 metres. No sooner was the drift set up than Jaro announced by radio that he'd just boated a really nice snapper, around 65-70cm. So, the snapper were still around. By now jimbo had joined us also and harry and Turtleboy announced by radio that they were on their way. Pedro was trolling gently and unobtrusively and also out there, as I found out later was LeRoux.
For almost an hour there was no indication of action. Having attracted no fish on my chosen drift I opted to head for the Pinnacles and drift outward into deeper water out to the NE. This did the trick for me. Just as Turtleboy was calling me on the radio my soft plastic was slammed and I could feel the "thumps" typical of a snapper trying to escape transmitted through the line to the rod. Soon I'd boated my first reasonable fish for the 25 day-old year of 2011. Note that I'm a long way behind Harry, Jaro and Jimbo in this respect but I'll work on catching up.
While this fish and Jaro's earlier snapper no doubt gave all the NYs fishing out there some hope the reality is that it was very quiet. The water was still murky and there was no sign of the usual surface action you'd expect at this time of the year. Still, it was a beautiful morning and the light SW wind began to gradually drop.
Jimbo was next on the board. I just happened to be paddling past him to reset my drift when his trailing outfit went off at the same time as his casting outfit snagged up. I paddled over to take a look.
We fished on even though some of our colleagues had dispersed to various other favourite locations. About 10 minutes after the above pic was taken and not far away from it (Jimbo, jag-one and I were drifting the same line) jag-one hooked up big time on a small pilchard bait. I paddled over with the camera and noticed that the fish was holding vertically downward and really giving jag-one some curry. He looked decidedly under-gunned, which happens from time to time at JS -- there are some monsters out there.
As I watched I thought that the fight indicated a big sweetlip. It was holding position and eventually got its head down and went for the bottom in an unstoppable run which ended with a broken line. Hard luck Geoff, but that happens quite frequently out there.
Between then and 0930 when jimbo and I set out for the run back to the beach there was very little action -- jimbo getting one more small keeper snapper. At one stage I asked pedro, as he pedalled past, how he was going and he replied that he'd hooked three small sharks. At about this time jaro reported hooking another shark and releasing it so perhaps the sharks were moving in. I recalled last year out at Sunshine Reef when the sharks moved in on us and took every bait and lure we put down -- perhaps they were going to do that again.
Anyway, jimbo and I shot through about 0930 leaving the ever-determined Jaro accompanied by Pedro and Geoff to continue trying to coax a biggy onto their lines. Jim and I had a great cruise back with a gradually freshening northerly and encountered Sam waiting for us on the beach. The swell at MG posed no problem for us although there were a couple of rare but occasional waves which could have proved challenging if we'd been careless about timing.
Anyway, here's hoping Jaro puts up a pic of his snapper. If any participants have anything further to add of interest please let us know.
Thanks for organizing, Jaro, and for coming along, guys. Hopefully we'll get another trip soon.
Red & white Stealth Supalite, black paddle
VHF channel 09 or 22 (if alone), Call Sign: sunshiner