Date: 26/07/2011 3:54 PM
Cloud cover: up to 5/10
Wind direction & speed: NW to west
Sea state: 1.5m southerly swell
If applicable (often at NSR): no current
Participants: Pedro, richmond, jaro, sunshiner
A quick check of Seabreeze as soon as I awoke at 0515 showed 10-15knots NW at DIP. The breeze coming into the front of our house confirmed a couple of minutes later that the seas might not be as smooth as we'd hoped. But it was glassy at Main Beach, at least for as far as we could see, which admittedly wasn't far.
I noticed that Pedro and Richmond had already parked and left by the time I got there at 0550 but jaro was there, as promised and he'd already unloaded his Profish, presumably without help.
Although the pic above shows no waves, I can assure you there were a few sets which were coming in at eyebrow height for kayakers. Jaro and I mostly dodged them in the half light but I still managed to get quite damp -- air temp about 8 degrees, water temp about 19 degrees -- as I led the charge and flattened the incoming waves for my poor old fishing mate coming along behind. Quite bracing I can assure you, especially with cool air circulating over soaked clothing clinging to wet skin.
The glow on the horizon gradually became more intense as jaro and I paddled on a glassy sea toward JS, our target today based on intel provided by pedro who checked it out yesterday and found it very favourable for snapper hunters. All the way out we kept a wary eye open for power boats converging on our track from the port side rear after exiting the river bar.
With about one km to go before arrival at our chosen western mark at JS a SW breeze kicked in, ruffling the surface and chilling us at the same time. We arrived out there around 0650 and I could see richmond to the east a few hundred metres away and pedro a little further on and further south. Neither of them had had any fish action though pedro, who'd been mucking around at Granite Bay, reckoned that he'd had a bit of unwitting fun on a wave or two there, presumably at Fairy Pools, where the water shallows suddenly.
Jaro and I popped our drogues and started our usual drift fishing routine, he using two rods, 1 with pillie, trailing, and one with prawn, casting. I also had two outfits, the trailer being armed with a deep jig which went straight to the bottom and the casting outfit loaded with a soft plastic, quarter-ounce, 3/0, with a 4 inch Gulp minnow, nook chook. My first cast went out at 0650 and I noted that the drift was pretty slow but almost straight east. As we'd started at Old Faithful, a mark on the western edge of the shoal, clearly we were going to go right over the shallower sections and pop out at the far eastern side, which suited me fine at that time of day.
The wind was cold -- I don't seem to recall previous winters being this cold -- but the drift was still OK and in the next 15 minutes I watched the sounder track the depth from the 20m start until it was around 10m and then start to drop away again. There were plenty of small fish showing on the display so I was confident that maybe a predator or two could be found. A couple of times the predators were confirmed but not the type I was after -- tuna were splashing around but only putting their shoulders out of the water instead of clearing it completely. Perhaps they realized how cold the breeze was.
And then came the hookup in around 16m, near the bottom but away from the yak a bit rather than straight underneath. Immediately I called it for a snapper, mid size, and a keeper judging by the way it was taking line off against the drag and thumping away as they do. Sure enough a couple of minutes later he was secured and posing for a pic before being placed tidily into the fish box.
This success made me feel a little warmer, somehow, especially when I passed the news on to the other yakkers. And it turned out to be the best fish of the day (47cm) among the four of us. Jaro, having been taken to the cleaners by a shark at least once and then by a couple of unknowns, bagged a 40cm sweetlip, as did pedro who also reported being bricked by something unstoppable. Richmond was having a slow time of it, with just one undersized snapper, but plenty of reef denizens of a variety of species.
By around 0945 Jaro and I had clustered around Old Faithful, where we'd started, for we'd found a school of snapper, very small ones unfortunately. Richmond and pedro both joined us after a while in the hope of getting a bigger one out of the school but other than a single small keeper which I managed to extract, all we caught were undersized snapper, plenty of them.
By 1030 jaro and I had decided to head for home and richmond joined us on the warming paddle 45min back to the beach, where a few little waves were waiting to ambush us. I'm gradually getting more comfortable with the Stealth's surfing capabilities but even so I waited until a couple of bigger waves went through before chancing my arm, deciding to run chest cam also just to see what pics came from it. I got run down by the next wave and found myself shooting along the face of the 2 footer to the right, just like on a surfboard, without paddling. But as soon as the wave broke I had to resort to bracing on the paddle by leaning into the wave. This all worked fine, as Jeff, who had gone in before me and got a wet arse but who was watching closely, can verify. Jaro, as usual, timed his run to perfection and cruised in to the beach, completely unruffled.
Pedro came in soon after us and had done no better than his score at the time we'd left. He also avoided the sand monster by good timing.
Thanks for coming along guys. I'll be away for the next couple of weeks in Canada, chasing Pacific salmon. Will try to post some pics. See you mid August, and have some snapper fun while I'm away.
Red & white Stealth Supalite, black paddle
VHF channel 09 or 22 (if alone), Call Sign: sunshiner