Wind: gentle N to W
Swell: small E, insignificant
Water temp: 25°C
Current: at Jew Shoal, minimal
Launch point: Middle Groyne
Participants: diesel, jaro, jimbo, tunny, redwood, PeeBee (friend of redwood), josh, francesco (josh's friend from Sicily), sunshiner
Keen Angler Program: nothing donated
Diesel, whom I wasn't expecting today, had already grabbed "my" parking spot and was afloat in darkness, and it was only 3:50am! Of the others, only tunny had beaten me to the car park as we ran in yak-on-top convoy down the (tasteful) light show which is Hastings Street. I fully expected a stiff breeze on the beach and car park but not a branch or leaf stirred. A quick beach recce confirmed great conditions, so it was on.
As soon as I launched (around 04:10) I radioed diesel and discovered that he was hooked up to something big, north of the shark net, and had been for 20 minutes or so. My guess was a shark and sometime later diesel confirmed that he was down one hard bodied lure!
So off we paddled (or pedalled in the case of josh and francesco) for Jew Shoal. Jaro took a hit as soon as he arrived. Sure enough, a bonito. We scattered all over the place and I trolled initially but, getting no action, opted to drift in the light breeze and fish a SP, as I could see fish on the sonar and surely some of them must be snapper!
Second cast on the drift, NW of The Pinnacles, in 20m, I hooked up and soon had a feisty yellowtail king, way undersize, yakside. The news of the capture and release of this fish was broadcast to the crew and out went my SP again. It wasn't long before I took a typical snapper hit and played the fish out before claiming it as mine.
So, this had made my morning already. Anything else was icing! Just as well, as I then struck a plague of grinners. Here's something you may not know. Grinners have very sharp teeth, and lots of them. These teeth can easily cut through 6kg monofilament. In partnership with the teeth, a grinner's huge mouth can easily accommodate a 4 inch SP and jighead so you will often find your line disappearing into the grinner's mouth, which is when your line is most likely to be cut. Not only that, but if you peer into the mouth you will sometimes see that your jighead and SP have already passed the gullet and are already being subjected to the grinner's digestive juices. Today, I lost two jigheads (they're a buck each!) and SPs to bloody grinners.
Then I started trolling again. Meantime, diesel asks for clarification of ID for a yellowtail kingfish as he has either a YTK or an amberjack aboard. It's 57cm long. He decides that it's a YTK and releases it (min length 60cm). In my experience we get very few YTK at Jew Shoal and very rarely is one captured at legal size or bigger.
Jimbo also gets a screaming run, next to diesel, but the hook pulls loose (possibly another YTK). Jimbo then nails a snapper around 40cm on bait. Otherwise, all quiet.
Peebee, out on a trial run in a borrowed yak, had been seasick for a while and eventually headed for the beach after a couple of hours to seek relief. Diesel, bored and out of bait, decided to accompany him.
Just south of Jew Shoal, about 400-500m south of The Pinnacles, I spotted a lone tern hovering and flitting around so decided to go down that way, trolling, to see what was holding its interest. Here I found on the sonar a big patch of baitfish, holding about three metres down, so let those with radios know of my find, while continuing to troll the area. Surely such a smorgasboard will be found by the predators if there are any around. That seems to be the question as repeated trolling with a HLP, by me, produced no hits. No surface splashes from big predators could be seen. Tunny and redwood were trolling baits, but getting no hits yet.
This is the time of year when I carry close to hand a casting outfit rigged with a slug, just in case of sudden bustups. It happened today. I was trolling along, near aforesaid baitfish, thumb in bum, mind in neutral, when suddenly the surface erupted right in front of me. I could see the predators (small, incredibly shiny, torpedo-like) smashing the baitfish. The glide on my boat carried me right into the middle of them while I was reaching for my slug outfit. One quick cast and quick retrieve and I was on. It was only a bonito but I bagged it immediately as it will make a superb troll bait in the coming weeks, when the action really starts.
By now, diesel was back near Middle Groyne. On the radio he reports that he has donated yet another hard bodied lure to the grey suited monster which hangs out near the groyne.
Tunny's trolled bait gets smashed and his heavy outfit is partly jolted out of the rod holder, resulting in the rod holder being damaged. The fish was big and went deep and was lost (ask tunny if you need more info). Sounded like the strike of the day!
Shortly after this the remainder of us started to trickle shorewards, hoping for some action on the way home. Only jimbo and tunny hung back for a little longer. Redwood caught up with me on the way back so that we arrived at Middle Groyne together. Here, I retrieved my HLP without interruption, but redwood hooked up an undersize school mackerel on one outfit, and a small shark on the other. So redwood was busy for a while, releasing fish and getting his lures back.
On the beach we had little to show for our efforts.
Then tunny came to the rescue. He'd hooked yet another cobia, not big but a cobia nevertheless. I quote from tunny's email to me: "The Cobia was taken on a trolled pilchard on the way home after leaving that area where you identified the bait balls (about 200m from that area). It measured 83cm."
One stinkboat operator out there, a friend of redwood, reported that he'd taken a metre plus Spaniard in the area we'd found the baitfish. It's interesting that we couldn't raise a spotty or a Spaniard, despite a plethora of baits and lures. Still, next week could be different. Plenty of baitfish around, too!
Author Kayak Fishing Manual for iPad and Mac (click linked text to view)
Stealth Supalite X, yellow/orange