Jew Shoal snapper, 26Oct07

Subject: Noosa Yakkers trip 26Oct07
Date: Friday, 26 October 2007 1:19 PM

Jaro, as organizer, may make his own comment on the trip, but here it is from my point of view... Thanks for organizing, Jaro.

Jaro, Mick, Jim and I turned up on or before the agreed RV time (0600) this morning and we gazed out onto a "do-able" surf entry, albeit with mutual agreement that we'd probably get wet (by waves, not rain) going out.

Mick Murphy had never taken his Hobie out through the surf before but he managed to pick a nice break in the sets and went through unscathed in his huge (4.9m) Hobie. One of us, who doesn't ride an Espri, went spectacularly backward when hit by a broken wave and seemed to be starting a new trend until the yak broached going backwards and the sand monster had claimed another victim.

By 0630 we were all "out the back" and shortly afterward set course for Jew Shoal, into a gentle nor-wester and a 2m or so swell. The trip out was uneventful and by 0715 we were setting up for our first drift for snapper.

Having received no hits within 6 or so casts at the 450-500m ring, I opted to move in to 350m from the centre and caught two snapper on two consecutive casts at that possie, so I knew they were around.

The result of the trip was that everyone caught at least one snapper, and all except possibly the first I caught (which I released), were legal size. I also hooked a small yellowtail kingfish which released itself yak-side after a solid fight, which was convenient, as I was going to release it anyway. Occasional tuna (probably mackerel tuna) were evident, feeding on baitfish clustered on top of the reef.

Jaro was looking a bit glum for a while with bent rods evident all round him and his rod straight and his line limp, but he persisted and eventually got
the knack and boated first one, then a second, snapper, accompanied by yells of excitement (see photo).

One thing worth commenting on is that close to where we were drifting and catching snapper there was a very expensive looking powerboat with heaps of shiny fishing gear aboard plus two glum looking anglers watching disbelievingly as we collectively boated fish after fish. They caught nothing of significance while we were out there and even offered to carry our catch back to Noosa -- No Deal!

Anyway, a great morning was had by all, including spectacular escapades when we returned through the surf. Once safely on the beach we enlisted the aid of an admiring young lad to record the event with my camera, whose lens cover, once more, had salt spray on it, so the resulting pic is a bit fuzzy -- sorry.

For info, my largest snapper went 54cm, slightly shorter that the 55cm I'd estimated out on the water.

Fresh snapper is on the menu in several households in the next couple of days. Yum Yum.

When are we going again?

Red & Yellow Espri

Snapper on SPs

It's taken me over seven years to get exactly what I wanted to explain this subject: several small movies. After you've watched the movies, I recommend that you go on to read the rest of the post, mostly unaltered from the time I first wrote it back in 2007.

The original post:

Subject: fishing for snapper at Jew Shoal
Date: Thursday, 25 October 2007 11:40 AM

Hi guys

Looks like it's going to be OK tomorrow so I thought I'd pass on some info which may be of use in preparation.

Firstly, the following technique works for me and has done so consistently at Jew Shoal in the last several trips. So far this year I've caught 14 keeper snapper, most at Jew Shoal.

Note: the legal limit for snapper is 35cm and the bag limit is 5 (editor: this changed to four in 2011). Please do the right thing. If you have any doubts about fish legality please return them to the water. You may also catch grass sweetlip, whose legal limit is 30cm.

Background info: It's a 3.7km trip to Jew Shoal (JS) from Main Beach which takes me 40 min or so. I have the centre of JS registered on my GPS, and it's a quite large area of reef and rubble, more than a 1km diameter circle. Mentally, I draw a 500m radius circle centered on JS. My navigation target is the edge of that circle which is directly upwind of the JS centre.

Fishing technique:

(1) Although I usually troll on the way to JS, when I reach my nav target I'll be starting to drift fish for snapper, keeping an eye on distance from the JS centre as I drift. I use a small shopping bag as a drogue when drifting (see pic) and this slows down the drift rate and maintains the yak in a constant orientation to the wind and waves. Once I've drifted outside the circle I reposition myself on the upwind edge of the circle and start again.

Drogue made from shopping bag

(2) I use a 1/8oz jig head tied directly to the line and baited with a Power Bait 3inch minnow. I fish with a threadline reel using 12lb breaking strain line. The water depth is 15-20m. I cast the jig/bait as far as I can downwind while drifting and allow it to sink unimpeded except by the drag from the line (allow loose line between the reel and the place where the line enters the water, but engage the bail arm of the reel as you could get a strike at any time after the jig hits the water). Sometimes the jig is taken by a snapper within the first 10 seconds, but usually the take occurs when the yak is directly over the jig and the jig is at max depth. If I haven't hooked up by the time the jig is starting to be dragged upward behind the drifting yak, I retrieve and try again.

(3) Important: If you hook a snapper, he's going to fight pretty hard. Make sure your drag system is in good condition and that you are prepared to handle the fish into the yak safely if you subdue him. There is no need to bulldoze the fish. Snapper are clean but solid fighters and as long as you keep moderate pressure on you'll eventually gain the upper hand. I usually gaff a fish if he's obviously a keeper (see pic, which also shows my snapper rod/reel) and I also have a stringer on the yak onto which I thread the fish, through the gills, to ensure I don't lose him overboard while I'm stuffing around getting him into the fish box. Small fish should be gently lifted into the yak and gently de-hooked and returned to the water ASAP.

Dealing with keeper snapper
Finally I'm delighted to be accompanied by fellow yakkers, but please don't crowd each other. The fish are well spread over the reef so there's plenty of space. If you catch something you can't identify bring it over to me and I'll try to help out. And keep an eye out for whales.

Tight lines... Hope to see you tomorrow at 6am

Red & Yellow Espri

nice bag, Jew Shoal, 02Oct2007

Subject: fishing just keeps getting better and better...
Date: Tuesday, 2 October 2007 11:21 AM

I don't like to be forced to apologise for image quality, but there was salt spray on the lens.

Left the beach 0630, returned 0930, paddled 10+km, had a ball!! I pretty much was the only human out there, at least for the first hour or so.

The spotty mac (edit: in 2011, by author: probably a school mackerel, I think) was caught at Jew Shoal (trolled Rapala) as I was about to start snapper fishing. The snapper, none of which exceeded 45cm, were caught using Berkely Power Baits on 1/8 oz jig heads.

Had a fairly close experience with a pod of whales, one of which was showing off by breaching, and a very close experience with some dolphins.

What more could one want?

Red & Yellow Espri