30Nov07, JS fires, big sweetlip

From: "kevin long"
Subject: noosa yakkers 30nov07 -- dare you read it?
Date: Friday, 30 November 2007 2:27 PM

Almost perfect conditions today. Only three starters: Jaro, Jim and I. Our departure time coincided with low tide so there was a bit of a curling shore break, which proved quite easy to avoid and all three of us were outside the surf zone relatively dry by 0620 or so, setting course for a showery JS (see pic), with a very light southerly helping us to push into the small swell.

There was no action on the trolled lures on the way out and as the breeze at this time was still from the south, we elected to start drift fishing 300m or so short (ie south) of JS Centre. I popped out my drogue and laid out a first cast at around 0700, noting that there was little or no drift. Second cast -- still no fish -- what's going on? Third cast and I was about to retrieve my jig for cast #4 when suddenly the line tightened, the rod bent over into the water and line started screaming off my Shimano Slade, my favoured snapper-fishing reel. It was immediately obvious to me that a snapper had picked up my pretend minnow and impaled its jaw on the deadly 1/8 oz jig carrying the minnow. Jim and Jaro were nearby and I yelled to let them know I was "on" (it's always nice to receive confirmation that the fish are there, even if you aren't the lucky bastard who has hooked one) then settled in to the task at hand, ie boating this first fish. Within a couple of minutes or so my first snapper for the day, and a keeper to boot, lay vanquished in the foot well of my Espri and I wasted little time in getting him onto the stringer and safely stored in the fish box.

Very quickly after this fish I caught a couple of small reefies, including a smallish but keeper grass sweetlip which released itself yak side, then another keeper snapper. Things were looking good, for me at least. Although it's hard to keep track of the sequence of events, around now Jim boated a keeper snapper, followed by Jaro -- now we all had runs on the board. Then we had a cooling shower of rain, and, as the shower drifted westward, we were treated to an unbroken and brilliant rainbow which stretched from east of the Noosa River mouth to Teewah. This beautiful artifact of the human brain triggered by sunlight and water droplets couldn't, because of lens limitations, be captured in total by my camera in a single shot so no piccy I'm afraid.

By 0745 I noticed that we'd drifted around 400m from JS Centre and I was considering heading back in to the centre when I felt a gentle take-up of the jig right at the bottom of its descent. I struck, to set the hook, immediately noting that I made little if any impresssion on the fish at the other end -- perhaps I'd picked up the bottom? No, a few seconds later I was sure it was a fish but its behaviour was very different from a snapper's. It hung doggedly directly under the yak, fighting to get back to the bottom as the Slade gave line steadily but smoothly, as necessary, and I cranked line back whenever the opportunity arose. As is my usual practice, I'd set the drag with a generous margin of safety, well below the breaking strain of the line, so as a result the tussle took quite a while to be resolved, and eventually it was, in my favour. There, exhausted, floating languidly next to the yak was the biggest grass sweetlip I've ever seen. I judged it to be longer than the 47cm specimen I captured here a few weeks ago, a judgement which proved correct, for this specimen occupied 52cm of my tape measure at home, later. Shortly it was safely in the yak foot well and the camera was employed to record its magnificent colour pattern before death drew its curtain over the display for ever. A lesson here. While setting the fish up for a picture I noticed that the final 50cm or so of 12lb monofilament tied to the jig was very badly abraided. In fact it was so bad that gentle pressure on the line to position the sweetie for a photo caused the line to snap (this break is visible in attached photo). It's probable that the damage to the line had been caused by close contact with the reef in the recent tussle. As a result of this damage any small increase in drag tension late in the fight would almost certainly have caused the line to break. So, presuming you've successfully raised your fish from its habitat, don't succumb to any temptation to increase the drag -- it might just prove to be the final straw -- you know, the one that metaphorically broke the camel's back.

Following this event Jim and I, shortly joined by Jaro, opted to reposition ourselves the several hundred metres to Jim's secret JS spot, now somewhat less secret. There Jaro had a very close encounter with a large turtle which decided to come up for a breather right next to him, Jim caught at least one more snapper and I tangled with several, eventually keeping two more and releasing three or four others before Jim and I decided to call it a day just after 0900. Jaro by this time had bagged one keeper snapper (but he'd returned several smaller specimens to the water) and rather than return with us he opted to stay to try to capture at least one more. I can't tell you how he went (late news: Jaro just called and reports that he caught a grinner and was busted by a big fish but didn't improve on his take-home score), but Jim and I had a pleasant and unhurried paddle home, successfully transiting the surf zone just before 1000.

What a great morning! I'm lining up for another trip on Tuesday to take a visiting friend out so anyone else interested is welcome to join us. I'll send out a confirmation email Monday evening.


Red & Yellow Espri with fish scales on it

YFT hooked and lost, 23Nov07

From: "kevin long"
Subject: Quick report on today's trip -- 23Nov07
Date: Friday, 23 November 2007 2:22 PM

Hi guys

Stated mission for today's operation not accomplished, unfortunately, but please read on. Beanie joined Harvey and me and we launched without drama at about 0530, all using the channel on the western side of the groyne. The swell was med-low and there was no significant wind. Once outside, I paused to set up GPS and casting outfit, while my companions paddled off in the general direction of JS. Once ready, I opted to troll a hard bodied plastic lure and set off for JS Centre.

6am, two km short of JS, and still a long way behind Beanie and Harv, I got a solid strike and hookup on the trolled lure. I took the weight and judged it to be a tuna and settled down for a long fight as these guys can give out a fair bit of curry. To my surprise, after only a 5-10min fight I clearly had gained the upper hand, despite being towed 100 or so metres back toward my launch point. Shortly afterward, I had a magnificent 10 kilo plus yellowfin tuna relatively under control and readied the gaff for the coup-de-grace. On its first pass at surface level close to the yak I could see that the fish, which was glowing silver, yellow and dark blue in the early morning light, was secured in the upper jaw by the tail treble of the lure. Second pass and the fish was all but beaten, but I could see that his capture was going to provide me with a dilemma, because there was no way this fish was going to comfortably fit into my fish box and so for my planned 2-hour snapper session it would have to share the cockpit with me. Also in consideration was the extra weight, another 10kg plus, which I'd have to drag around. Never mind -- I decided to take him because I'd never caught a yellowfin tuna from the yak, and Mal Price has, and they are very good eating. Here he is, on the port side of the yak and I have the gaff in my right hand. I line up the gaff shot and before I could sink its deadly point into its shoulder, my yellowfin gave one simple flip and the hook pulled out and he gained his freedom.

And so I eventually arrived at JS, and, having elected to start a drift from the NW edge, 300m or so out, was joined by Beanie and Harv at about 0630. I threw out the drogue, picked up my snapper casting outfit, and with my first cast demonstrated to Beanie how far to cast. Within less than a minute of the jig in this first cast hitting the water I came up tight on a nice fish which started to take line off the spool against the steady drag. I called it for a snapper, which it almost certainly was, but I didn't find out because after another 30 secs the hook pulled out -- on a brand new, needle-sharp jig. Fish 2, Kev 0.

Conditions were glassy today and there was a fair bit of Trichodesmium around, the usual turtles, as well as the odd school of small mackerel tuna causing havoc among the baitfish schools hanging over the reef. Despite all of my efforts, I couldn't raise a decent snapper - got one or two small reefies and a small snapper (all released). Harvey got a small grass sweetlip which he released, or perhaps it released itself. We left at about 0920 and were back on the beach shortly after 1000, all coming in on the small surf again, west of the groyne, dodging swimmers and surfers as we approached the beach, more or less in control.

This is the first in about ten sessions in a row where I've failed to bring a keeper home from JS. All other occasions were in conditions where there was a reasonable breeze, and therefore a good drift, and perhaps this was the reason for the paucity of fish.

When are we going again, Jaro? I hope Harvey and Beanie are not discouraged, for they will catch snapper if they keep trying.

Red & Yellow Espri (nice and clean today)

more snapper, JS, 19Nov07

(Note from editor. This report has two contributions, one from Jaro and one from Jim so when you've finished Jaro’s keep going for Jim’s.)

Subject: N.Y. Fishing Report 19/11/07
Date: Monday, 19 November 2007 2:31 PM

Hi Yakers,

Well four (Jim Mal and Steve and myself) turned up at the appointed time. With a small swell and little wind to trouble us we all made it out safely (6.20am) and proceeded to troll to Jew Shoal uneventfully. After a hiatus in activity the fish started to bite and Jim casting and also trolling with the drift using a squidgie caught a whopper keeper (64cm) with the said squidgie. In the excitement of bagging this fish Jim snagged his watch off his wrist to see it quickly disappear in Davey Jones Locker. Jim ended up with 3 other normal sized keepers.

Meanwhile Steve had also caught his first and only good sized keeper... and he also became seasick but toughed it out. A great effort from the newcomer. Mal was having a good time catching 3 keepers... one being a good 52cm. Yours truly caught a monster but as usual lost it hook and some line (you always have to have a story about the one that got away)... but still ended up with a normal sized keeper and a sweetlip.

Jim and Steve left about an hour before Mal and I. According to Jim, Steve made a brilliantly successful return to the beach surfing a wave like a pro all the way to the shore on the spit side of middle groyne. Jim tried to emulate this feat... unsuccessfully!!

Mal tried to pick a break in the waves... unsuccessfully and ended having a nice cooling dip. On seeing this I was determined to bide my time and on seeing a break in the waves made a headlong dash for the beach... fear is a great motivator... imagine the sigh of relief with success.

Well this has been the most successful expedition so far... 10 good sized fish caught between 4 kayakers and it was done under the most pleasant conditions to date.

Jim will show some photos courtesy of Steve.
Hopefully this report will encourage those that haven't be out yet to come and join in the fun.

Heavy yellow Prowler 13

Jim’s report

Subject: Fw: N.Y. Fishing Report 19/11/07
Date: Tuesday, 20 November 2007 10:56 AM

G'day Yakers,

What a great day !!!
Further to Jaro's report (well done Jaro), attached are the accompanying pics.

For those wishing to refine the "Jew Shoal Fishing Technique" (pioneered by Kev) I offer the following additions to Jaro's report:

Once at Jew Shoal, Steve and I paddled to the upwind (SE) perimeter of the imaginary 500m radius circle around the centre of JS. Similar to last Thursday's trip to JS, it wasn't until we had drifted to about 100-200 m onto the NW side of the centre of JS that we started to get some action. I initially thought the thick wind rows of brown/orange algae all over the reef area might be having a detrimental effect on the snapper's enthusiasm to take the baits offered, but this obviously proved not to be so.

As there appeared to be no action with the normal technique of casting the Berkley Gulp soft plastic "minnows" on a small jig head down wind with the light gear, I decided to also trail a larger soft plastic "jig type" lure (the pink coloured lure in the attached pic, but with tail now bitten off) on my heavier trolling line. This lure is similar to the Starlo & Bushy's "Squidgies" (also shown in the pic) but the lead weight is all internal to the body of the lure, and the pink one I was using was not scented like the Squidgies are. They are ~12cm long and weigh 35g (~ 1.25 oz) which enables them to get reasonably close to the bottom on a very slow drift when trailed behind the yak. The actual lure I used had a triple hook attached mid body but this is not really necessary.

I was lucky that I had just retrieved the light line, when the "whopper" hit the heavy trailing "squidgie". Being the heavy trolling gear (~30lb line on big Daiwa Sealine overhead reel), I had plenty of "power" in reserve and didn't have to spend too much time in subduing this big snapper (but it was still bloody great fun!!!). I would suggest, however, that it would normally not be a good idea to operate two lines simultaneously, as a hit on either line would very likely result in a tangle with the other line in the process of playing the fish.

I marked the spot with the GPS where I hooked the big snapper and it was generally around this area that I picked up the additional three, albeit smaller, snapper, one of these on the squidgie type lure on two successive drifts over this area.

My conclusions after today's experience at JS are:

(a) A GPS receiver is invaluable to be able to target a locality for that morning and to be able to do repeated drifts over it.

(b) The soft plastic protein/scented lures are definitely the go for snapper and sweetlip at JS, however, shape, size and colour doesn't seem to make much difference.

(c) The important factors appear to be locating a "hot spot" for the morning, and getting your lure down there, ie, trailing a squidgie type lure is only likely to be effective on a very slow drift.

An interesting experiment now would be to combine Kev's "casting down wind technique" but using a heavier squidgie type lure. Because of the greater casting distance and sink rate achieved, retrieving slowly with a slight jig action as you drift forward might be effective. Next time...

I might also add that just before leaving JS, I got hit on the light gear with what I believe would have been a snapper equally as big as the 64cm specimen. My light Shimano Sedona reel (see pic) was just "screaming" for about the first 10-15 seconds as this fish took about 50m of line from me before he managed to spit the lure... bugger!!!! Not to worry, that means there is still at least one big whopper out there for next time, and it was a delightful casual paddle back to main beach with a yak full of fish, the sun shining, a small swell and light SSE breeze pushing Steve and me along. The fact that I had lost my watch overboard seemed inconsequential.

Yellow and green Espri, now with lots more snapper scales on it

Snapper aplenty, 15Nov07

Subject: 15nov07 -- how'd we go with our fishing trip? Read on!
Date: Thursday, 15 November 2007 1:56 PM

G'day gang

With aching arms I type this report...

Mal, Jim, Jaro and I fronted this morning at 6. We opted to launch on the eastern side of the groyne as the waves were still quite uppity on the western side. There was a bit of fun going out with yours truly timing his departure to meet the biggest nastiest dumping wave of the morning. I hit it paddling as fast as I could, using appropriate words which I hoped would assist, aiming to punch through, but alas, my body got in the way. When I opened my eyes the yak was still the right way up and I was on it but we were surfing backwards. This didn't last long as I soon performed a "deliberate" beautiful reverse broach and went for a swim in the balmy waters of Laguna Bay. No harm was done, and I was soon back on and into the fray once more, this time successfully joining my rudely grinning companions 'out the back'.

It was a fairly hard slog out as we were punching into a NE breeze and chop on top of a 1.5m swell, but we made it out to our planned destination in about 40min and started fishing at about 0715.

While there was quite a bit of action from small reefies, snapper were not on the chew and by 0830 I was beginning to wonder if all of the snapper had left when suddenly we started catching them. Between 0830 and 0930 the three of us left there (for Mal had departed -- more about him later) boated 7 snapper, two of them around 50cm.

Mal has revealed that he became sea sick, and having vomited on his one and only keeper snapper, headed for home. Presumably this fish was washed before being stowed, Mal, or was it released to tell an unbelieveable story to his finny mates?

We departed the reef about 0945, with Jaro and I both getting strikes, but no solid hook ups, on our trolled lures before we'd cleared the reef.

I wouldn't say our return through the surf was uneventful (in fact, at one stage I couldn't believe I was still the right way up after the sand monster reared up and tried to bite me), but we all managed to land with dignity intact and were met by the usual envious stares and copious questions as we swaggered down to the water's edge to clean our fish.

Oh and why are my arms aching? -- from all the paddling of course...

Red & Yellow Espri with fish scales on it

sweetlip, snapper, 01Nov07

Subject: noosa yakkers 01Nov07
Date: Thursday, 1 November 2007 1:03 PM

It's a while since I've been rolled going out and coming in but I managed it today. In retrospect I think the swell and tide combination were in the no-go class, so that's been tucked away for future reference.

Once out the back, conditions were very nice, with very little breeze. Jaro, Harvey and I set out for JS with snapper in mind. Just as we got to the centre, my trolled lure (deep running hard plastic) went off. I felt the surge of a powerful fish and also felt the line grating over the reef which is quite shallow (10-15m) just there. "Pop!" went the line and that was that. Possibly a yellowtail kingfish...

We started drift fishing for snapper but things were initially very quiet. Although there was little if any breeze, I found we were moving quite rapidly over the reef -- clearly there was a quite strong current from the north/north west. Then, at last, I hooked up when the jig was at its greatest depth. After a short tussle up came a beautiful grass sweetlip (see pic, immediately after capture, in yak), my biggest of this species so far.

It took a while to get the next hit, clearly a snapper, as the jig was taken within a few seconds of hitting the water. The hook pulled out and on close examination of the jig I noticed that the hook bend was slightly distorted -- so that was the cause of a lost snapper.

Jaro, meanwhile was having some success, having hooked two snapper in two casts -- the first was undersized and released, the second threw the hook. He persisted however and boated two keepers, a nice snapper and an even nicer sweetlip, albeit somewhat smaller than mine.

Just as I'd dismantled my gear in preparation for departure from JS (and transiting through the surf zone) I glanced down and could clearly see a school of snapper drifting past. So there are plenty out there.

Harv, by the way, quit early, fishless, on account of illness. I've just spoken to him and he attributes his illness to brain overheating on account of wearing a surf ski helmet, which he was.

Another great fishing trip. Thanks for organizing, Jaro.

Oh, and by the way, we bumped into Mike Gnezdiloff on the beach -- he took the photo of the two wet kayakers and their catch.

Red & Yellow Espri