snapper for christmas, 23Dec08

From: "kevin long"
Subject: Fishing today, 23Dec08 -- snapper for Christmas
Date: Tuesday, 23 December 2008 12:20 PM

Hi guys

I got to the carpark shortly after 0430 today to find Andy already unloaded and on the beach. I wonder if Andy sleeps in the carpark? Jim's son Simon had opted to come along later, so just Andy and I faced the elements.

A beautiful morning greeted us again, with just a gentle SW breeze, fairly typical on days which are forecast to be calm.

0456hrs. Andy facing the huge shore break.

I wasn't far behind Andy and we both set off for JS before 0515. In order to try to avoid the cobia hanging around in the area just north of the shark net I switched trolling lures to the one that yellowfin tuna seem to like. It worked, as I didn't get any interest from cobia, nor anything else, on the way out. As we paddled along there was a constant stream of power boats heading out from the Noosa Bar -- typical of this time of the year.

I headed directly for the western side of JS and by 0555, having set my sights on a snapper or sweetlip for sashimi tonight, I had the first of my soft plastic baits out in 20m depth. Andy, on only his third trip with us, opted to tackle the Spaniards again as he had unfinished business with one from last week. Accordingly he set up a trolling pattern and paddled away. Just after we arrived several power boats turned up, mainly trolling and creating quite a bit of disturbance locally.

With a breeze from the south, I soon confirmed by GPS a slow drift to the north -- pretty much ideal from a soft plastics point of view. Even so, by around 0630, having fished continually in relatively deep water (around 20m), I decided to paddle across to the southern side of the reef and set up a drift toward and over the shallow grounds (~10m) which lie to the south of the pinnacles. This accomplished, I was watching the sonar for the first sign of the shallow banks as I drifted and cast. Before long a sharp reduction in depth from 17m to around 10m was indicated so I decided to fish slightly differently in that instead of allowing the jig to fall to the bottom I worked the jig back to the yak, imagining it just clearing the bommies and reef below me. This technique shortly proved successful as I got a firm take followed by a typical snapper fight, with strong runs down and along the bottom. Before long a nice fat snapper lay beaten by the side of the yak and very shortly afterward he found himself in the footwell and tethered, ready for a photo, and shortly after that in the fishbox.

0642hrs. Possibly my last snapper of 2008, on the day after the southern summer solstice.

I tried the same drift several times, with Andy in close company, without further result until about 0745 at which time I decided to head for home but only after saying hello to a couple of other yakkers mounted on South African fishing skis who were nearby. They turned out to be Couta1 and Duran from the Gold Coast, both familiar to me through AKFF. They told me that they'd launched from Main Beach about 0300, aiming for Spaniards, but by this time had caught only one, and an unremarkable one to boot.

0648hrs. Arty shot of Andy drifting with soft plastics nearby.

0803hrs. Duran, background and Steve (Couta1) on their South African yaks out at Jew Shoal.

On arrival at the beach on the western side of the groyne at 0900 after an uneventful trip home via Tea Tree Bay I was surprised to hear Jimbo come up on the radio. It turned out that he and Simon were on the other side of the groyne, with Simon preparing to launch to go out and join us. Neither of us was aware of the other's presence until the radio call. Simon decided to go out anyway so may have results to report later.

51cm snapper -- destined for sashimi tonight accompanied by a nice Verdelho.

Some of us are planning on going out tomorrow, same time same place, depending on the forecast at 1500. Please let me know if you are interested. The weather for the rest of the week looks great.

Have a great Christmas, yakkers and all.

Red & Yellow Espri, black paddle
VHF channel 09 or 22 (if alone), Call Sign: sunshiner

Big Spaniard, 17Dec08

From: "kevin long"
Subject: Fishing today 17Dec08 -- Part 2 -- it's better
Date: Wednesday, 17 December 2008 12:40 PM

Get out the Bundy, guys.

As you know, I stopped fishing early today (Editor: see next earlier blog post) after nailing a very nice 1 metre plus cobia -- a pretty good fish. But better was to come.

After sorting out my fish and breakfasting on the verandah, at around 0930 I went back down to Middle Groyne to meet the others as they came back from JS. I carried my camera, radio and measure mat, just in case. Once on the groyne I made a contact radio call to the Noosa Yakkers. Jaro responded from out at the shoal that he personally hadn't done any good but that Steve (Turtle Boy) had boated a big spaniard. I spoke briefly to Steve also and was told that they'd be heading in soon. As there was a good steady northerly I knew they'd have a nice easy trip back. So I kicked back in the shade and relaxed, keeping an eye on the beach fauna.

Shortly I spotted a small grey yak out at the shark net and guessed that it was probably Andy W, who doesn't have a radio but who was first away this morning and was out at the shoal with Jaro and Steve. Sure enough, the yakker soon started heading for the beach and so did I.

1002hrs. Andy gets back home in his well fitted out Viking Nemo.

This was Andy's second trip with us and he related that he'd hooked a nice spaniard when trolling but had been unlucky enough to have the line bitten through several minutes into the fight, after he'd clearly seen the fish. Its size made him ponder how he would have fitted it into the Nemo. Hard luck, Andy, but at least you got some action.

At around 1015 I spied Jaro and Steve just outside the shark nets so knew they'd be in in around 15 minutes and I offered the advice by radio that an approach on the western side of the groyne was OK, in fact easy. So in they came, Steve first.

1034hrs. Steve lands his fish-laden Swing while a chick, attracted by yakker magnetism, looks on.

I helped Steve haul his heavy yak up the beach out of the tiny shorebreak. Where was the fish? Inside the hull. Steve took the lid off the forward hatch and there, exposed, was a small part of the silvery grey-striped flank of a Spanish mackerel. There was no way Steve was going to lose this fish if he'd rolled in the surf -- in fact it took us a couple of minutes to prise it free of its position and jiggle it around so that it eventually emerged from the hull to audible gasps from the beachgoing peasants looking on -- followed by the inevitable questions.

Steve's Spaniard, first view after being dragged out of the hatch near its head. He caught it on a trolled hard body lure while relocating to another position on the reef.
More views below.

Jaro (fishless today) helped to subdue the beast, so Steve reckoned he could be in the photo.

So, today's take home catch:

Above: 1.02m cobia
Below: 1.3(?)m Spanish mackerel . The measure mat is 110cm long. The Spaniard measured at least another 10-15cm.

Nice going Steve. What'd he weigh?

Now, Jaro, when are we going again?

Red & Yellow Espri, black paddle
VHF channel 09 or 22 (if alone), Call Sign: sunshiner

cobia again, 17Dec08

From: "kevin long"
Subject: Fishing today -- 17dec08 -- Part 1
Date: Wednesday, 17 December 2008 7:52 AM

Andy W, Jaro and I were there early (before 0500) and Steve (Turtle Boy) turned up a little later. I understand that Mal intended to come a little later.

The usual procedure ensued, with first Andy, then Jaro, then I hitting the water, a very small swell and little or no breeze hindering us not at all.

0451 hrs. Andy heads for his launch.

Just as on our previous trip, I was ready to paddle before Jaro, who was setting up two trolling outfits. So I paddled over the shark net and once clear of it deployed the same lure as last trip, the one that got the cobia, but this time with new hooks. The big overhead, in the holder behind me, was in free spool as I paddled away and I'd forgotten it was still letting line out. I suddenly remembered and looked around to see a lot more line out than I'd prefer, so stopped paddling, engaged the gears and started to retrieve the lure to reduce the distance between me and the lure. There was a lot of line out (it's a big spool) and I was steadily cranking away when the resistance suddenly increased, but no fast run. My first thought was that this was a small fish, possibly a mackerel or tuna, and that I'd crank him straight in. Then I felt the weight of a decent fish as line crackled off the reel and the yak started to be pulled back toward the fish. Jaro by now was underway and could see that I was fighting a fish so again, as last time, he hung around. The fight reminded me of the cobia I'd caught the other day and Jaro mentioned to me just as I was coming to that conclusion that "perhaps it's another cobia". A few minutes later a sighting confirmed it and a few minutes later still it was gaffed (through the gill cover) and lifted into the yak. Again I passed the camera to Jaro and he obliged by taking a few pics. Thanks Jaro.

0523hrs. One cobia bagged.

I set about trying to revive the fish and would have been happy to release it, but it seemed too exhausted by the struggle so I consulted Jaro and then decided to take it, as we have a large BBQ commitment in the next few days and cobia of this size are very good to eat.

I held the fish for several minutes, swimming it back and forth but it showed little sign of life.

Having made the decision to keep the fish I then decided that it should be refrigerated as soon as possible so called an end to my fishing for the day, paddled the 500 or so metres back to the beach and landed in the midst of a large crowd of Surf Club "Nippers", undergoing training. here I took another pic of the fish on the measure mat.

Cobia, 17Dec08. Laguna Bay, 102+cm.

I was back at home before 0700. I reckon the boys will be back from JS around 0930 onward so intend to take the camera down to get more pics, after which I'll fill you in on further details. Wonderful morning out there today. I wonder how they're going? (Editor: see next later blog)

Red & Yellow Espri, black paddle
VHF channel 09 or 22 (if alone), Call Sign: sunshiner

cobia, 12Dec08

From: "kevin long"
Subject: Fishing today, 12Dec08 -- something different
Date: Friday, 12 December 2008 4:27 PM

The meeting arrangement was 0500 at Middle Groyne. Harry, Jaro, the dynamic duo Steven and Charles, and I had put up our hands to go. Steve had also but was a late withdrawal.

All were early or on time. In fact Steve and Charles had got up seriously early and paddled from near their new residence in Noosaville down the river to the river beach opposite Middle Groyne and then manhandled their Viking Nemo over to the ocean beach. They were relaxing on the sand waiting for us when I, the first to unload, trolleyed my yak down to the beach.

As usual, it was a glorious morning and I roped in the only other person around, a walker on the beach, to take a picture of the group before launch.

0500 hrs today. From left, Charles, Steven, Kev (your scribe), Jaro and Harry. Average age: about 41.

With the formalities out of the way, it was down to business and within a few minutes we were all waterborne. With my greater set up time (sounder and GPS), I was second last to set course, being followed by Jaro who had opted to troll with two rods, including one dragging a large garfish bait. This was fortunate for me as I subsequently had someone to take a pic for me, as you will discover.

I'd opted to troll only one lure, a cheap 180mm Berkley Killer, which was set up on my heavy trolling outfit and, as usual, I deployed this as soon as I'd cleared the shark nets.

My course was for Jew Shoal, and Jaro followed a few hundred metres behind me. About 15 minutes and 1500 metres into my journey I was enjoying the ambience, the light effort of paddling and the frequent appearance of dolphins in my path when the ratchet on my trolling reel growled briefly, but not screamingly, more as if the lure had been taken by a small fish which had then given up the fight and was happy to come along for the ride. I picked up the rod and confirmed, by the resistance, that there was in fact something out there, attached to my lure about 50 metres or so back. It was only when I started to retrieve the lure that I discovered that there was rather more to this fish than I'd thought as line was steadily taken off the reel against the firm but safe drag setting and the yak was dragged south. The fight reminded me of a snapper but I thought it was unlikely that I'd hooked such a fish in this stretch of water. The water was only 10m deep but the fish soon decided that the bottom was where it wanted to be for after a few minutes of to-and-fro it settled into a dogged resistance directly under the yak. By this time I'd been dragged by the fish quite a way back along my path and Jaro had seen that I was fighting a fish so made a wide detour around me (thanks, Jaro, good thinking) and set about reeling in his lines in case I needed assistance.

Several minutes later I could just see the fish about three metres down in the early morning light. Shark, I thought, making a quick judgement based on shape and colour -- an unusual capture on a lure, but not unknown. But then I realised that it was in fact a cobia, especially when it rolled on its side near the yak and once more went for the bottom. A couple of minutes later I gaffed the fish and dragged her over the side of the yak into the foot well accompanied by a fair bit of splashing and thumping of that powerful tail. I secured a tether around the tail wrist and then asked Jaro, standing by, to take a pic with my camera. Thanks again, Jaro.

Cobia, Laguna Bay. 0534hrs, 12Dec08. The bow of Jaro's yak, and one of his fishing outfits in the foreground.

I'd never caught a cobia from my kayak before and found that getting it into the fish box behind me was a tight squeeze. It took me about ten minutes to stow the fish and tidy up, during which time Jaro had departed for the reef. Harry and the dynamic duo were already there. As I was one third of the way there already I opted to head for the reef also.

Unfortunately, that was the only significant capture of the day. Jaro fought "the biggest fish he'd ever hooked" only to lose it without sighting it after a long fight (yes, on a soft plastic). He also hooked what we later confirmed to be an oceanic long tom, about "4 feet long" which, in typical fashion, leapt and cartwheeled over the surface before biting through the line. Harry nailed the smallest bonito I've ever seen and brought it over for a photo before using it for bait.

This bonito took Harry's trolled lure (which was at least as big as the fish) and was discovered, dead, only when Harry retrieved his lure on arrival at the reef.

The Dynamic Duo, at the reef shortly before they had to depart to deal with a World Financial Crisis problem.

I did not get a single nibble out at the reef, but there were some mackerel around as I saw a couple of guys in a tinny trolling pilchard baits catch several. At 0900, concerned for the condition of my fish, now dead for three hours and not on ice, headed for the beach where I photographed the fish on the measure mat for the record.

The cobia on the measure mat. The inset at bottom right indicates a size of 91+cm. The strange patches of skin discolouration are common in certain species when they are stored after capture.

Thanks for coming along guys and thanks Jaro for organizing. Now, how about next Tuesday? Harry, staunch member of Noosa Yakkers, departs Noosa tomorrow for southern parts until end of Feb when he promises to be back all fired up and ready to get out after the mackerel which should be around by then. AND, Harvey W is back in town. Welcome back Harv -- hopefully we'll see you soon, socially if not on the water.

Red & Yellow Espri, black paddle
VHF channel 09 or 22 (if alone), Call Sign: sunshiner

Sunshine 10Dec08, quiet

From: "kevin long"
Subject: Fishing yesterday 10Dec08
Date: Thursday, 11 December 2008 9:22 AM

Some days are diamonds...

But yesterday was a stone, from a fishing point of view at least.

Five of us turned up at MG at 0430-ish, in four yaks. Jaro, Harry, Steve, Charles and Steven (the dynamic duo) and I.

A pic at launch, taken at 0434 hrs.

Harry doing his gorilla imitation...

Our plan was to travel out to Sunshine Reef and all of us paddled out there. I reached one of my marks on the northern end of the reef in about an hour's paddling. A fairly brisk easterly current was evident as I swept past Hells Gates and I remember thinking that if it was still there when coming home, it could be a hard slog. Once past the headland, the current pushed almost due south (which is understandable). I paddled stright out for about 2km, found my bit of reef and started fishing. I fished for about half an hour without result and noticed I'd drifted about 1km in the time in a SE direction, aided by a NW breeze. Calculating that I'd be battling a 1.5kph current and head breeze combination, I opted to head for home immediately. The fact that I had a pile of work to be done on the day also motivated me, so I set off, leaving the area at about 0700. I finally hit the beach at MG at 0900, having paddled continuously for two hours, most of it into the current.

The others were all further south than I and I remember feeling sorry for them because the longer they drifted, the further they'd have to paddle. Aftre I got home Jaro phoned and related that they'd encountered no fish action at all and that fishos in power boats also had got nothing. All I encountered was a few tiny patches of bait being hammered by some small pelagics, probably tiny mac tuna, just off Hell's Gates. My lure cast into the melee failed to attract any interest.

It's looking good for Friday. Any starters? JS or Sunshine?

Red & Yellow Espri, black paddle
VHF channel 09 or 22 (if alone), Call Sign: sunshiner

a cracker day, snapper, 05Dec08

From: "kevin long"
Subject: Fishing today -- 05Dec08 -- one of the best
Date: Friday, 5 December 2008 4:17 PM

It was a bit of a toss-up last night whether a Sunshine Beach launch was viable, so we agreed to meet at the Sunshine Beach Surf Club carpark at 0430 this morning where we could check out conditions and then move on to (a) the more sheltered Middle Groyne or (b) back to bed if the weather proved unsuitable for any launch place. Jaro, Harry, Steve & Charles (a duo), and I were the likely starters. At 0430 all except the duo were at the car park, examining the sea as the ambient light steadily improved with the earth's rotation. We three called it for a "Go" from Sunshine Beach and I agreed to wait a further 5 minutes to see if the absent parties would turn up. When they hadn't shown after a few minutes I followed Jaro and Harry down to the Doggie Beach (the northern end of Sunshine Beach) carpark. Charles & Steven, you missed a great trip.

0451hrs 05Dec08. Jaro waits his chance to pick a gap in the shore break.

Harry got away cleanly followed by Jaro, also cleanly, while I, last to launch, made a bit of a goose of myself by allowing the yak to get caught in the back surge before I was aboard. It was swirled sideways, hit by a small wave and rolled. At this time I was standing thigh deep in the surge, still holding on to the front carry handle. The yak was then hit by a slightly larger wave and pushed violently toward the beach, dragging me to my knees so that I was now chest deep. Fervently hoping that my mates hadn't seen this amateur performance, I scrambled back to the beach, righted the yak, tidied up a little and then went straight back into the fray, this time getting aboard earlier and thus establishing better control at a time when it's needed and getting a clean launch.

We are all GPS equipped and so were each clear to choose an individual destination on the massive Sunshine Reef which extends for many kilometres north-south, with the closest part around 2km from our launch point. On my previous trip out here I'd found, with the sonar, and marked, using GPS, a nice patch of reef only 1.7km east of the beach. I headed for that while my fishing mates departed for who knows where, but much further out than I.

As I paddled toward my mark I watched the sonar display the depth. About 1.4km out it was 27m and then suddenly the water started to become shallower, and right on target, the unmistakeable lumps and bumps of reef started to show up on the sonar, with a depth of around 20-24m. By this time, Jaro and Harry were out of sight to the east but I opted to stick with my plan, figuring that I may as well start fishing here as I really wanted to find out how this patch of reef, relatively close to shore, ticked.

I deployed a large whole fish bait on a "Spaniard Special" on the heavy trailing outfit and then fished with my second outfit, in the usual reef fashion, with a soft plastic and 1/4oz jig head (heavier than my usual 1/8oz for the greater depth). I'd just settled down into my routine when local kayak fishing identity Bill Watson hove into view, paddling directly toward me from the north. He'd presumably launched at his usual spot on Main Beach in the dark and by now had already been paddling for at least one hour. We exchanged greetings and on he went. Now there were four kayak fishermen out here and only one power boat.

Before long, the GPS revealed that I was drifting quite rapidly (~1kph at least) toward the south, and this despite a 5 knot SE breeze. As a consequence of this combination of current and breeze, the 1/4oz jig head was staying down near the bottom much longer than if there were no current so I happily took advantage of this situation, just drifting along and enjoying the scenery. On about my third cast and about 30 minutes after starting to fish I had a sudden strike on the jig and the yak was forcibly rotated by the fish as it surged off against the drag. This felt like a good snapper and I was just settling in to the struggle when the line went slack. The jig was gone -- possibly as a result of a faulty knot or abrasion by the teeth of the snapper. Anyway, that happens a lot in fishing. I re-rigged and continued. Then, my Spaniard Special on the trailing outfit snagged up. I busted it off and decided to rerig that outfit with a 1/2oz jig head and the same sort of soft plastic as on my casting outfit.

By now I'd drifted around 1km from my original mark so I opted to return and do the drift again, with better knowledge now of prevailing current. To do this I needed to paddle north and in doing so the strength of the current was made more obvious because I was making barely 5kph over the ground whereas I normally can easily sustain 6kph in neutral water. By 0645-ish I was back at the start of my intended drift. I deployed both outfits in the usual way and pondered the possibility that today was going to be fishless, as I'd only had one strike so far and had been unable to attract even a tiny reefie. My reverie was rudely interrupted by the scream of the ratchet of the trailing outfit. With the casting outfit in my right hand, I reached around behind me with my left, picked up the other rod and struck at the fish which was desperately trying to take the rod and reel with him into Davy Jones' Locker. So now I had this fish firmly hooked, signalled by the strong runs and surges transmitted through the rod. I then became aware that the rod in my right hand was also coming under pressure. Uh oh, double hook-up! Although my little kayak is quite well set up I had some difficulty getting the rod in my right hand securely into a rod holder while I dealt with the other, first strike fish, whose rod was still desperately grasped in my left hand. Having at last secured the second rod, I settled in to fighting the fish on the first and soon up popped a solid snapper, which was hurriedly gaffed and dropped into the footwell where my feet held it down. I could now turn my attention to the other rod, whose hooked fish had cooperatively chosen to take the line out away from the other fish. So soon, again, another solid snapper dropped into the footwell. My score had gone from zero to two in five minutes.

A successful outcome of a double hook up -- two different rods. Note that both fish were taken on the same type of soft plastic.

Jaro had been asking me by radio how things were going and before this capture I'd expressed optimism that this reef area would produce fish. So now it was with great pleasure that I called him up and told him that I'd found The Spot, caught two snapper, and what's more I'd marked it on the GPS, yet another action I'd been taking while fighting two fish simultaneously. Who said men can't handle multi tasking? Jaro, still fishless, quite reasonably opted to head for my position. As I'd drifted several hundred metres from the place of first hook up until I was all tidied up with fish photographed, stowed etc I offered Jaro the opportunity of following me to my new mark and again he accepted.

Having arrived at the new mark, Jaro now marked the spot on his GPS and we started another drift quite close together. Shortly afterward, I got another strike and, before Jaro's eyes, fought and boated another fat snapper. Jaro's blood was now up. And shortly afterward he hooked a fish which stripped a lot of line off against the drag but then self-released without being sighted. Oh, the language!

A somewhat bloodied snapper, number three of the morning for me. 0736 hrs.

Harry, meanwhile, still out of sight to the east reported by radio that he'd caught and released an undersize Maori Cod and shortly afterward a 50cm mac tuna (a very small tuna by our standards). This latter was destined to be cut up as bait as Harry, at this stage, was still a devotee of the use of flesh bait, rather than artificial bait, which Jaro and I were using.

Boaties (this includes kayakers) out at Sunshine Reef in the early morning have a splendid view of the nearby coastline. To the east and north there is nothing but ocean, next stop South America. To the west, however, the village of Sunshine Beach nestles in the morning sun on the southern fringe of the Noosa National Park. See what I mean:

Above, Jaro, still fishless and still smiling at 0844 this morning, 2km off Sunshine Beach, the beach and village in the background.

Below, Harry at 0848 this morning, also fishless, who'd opted to join Jaro and me on our secret drift.

Enough of views, back to the fishing. As noted above, Harry had joined us shortly after 0830, not long after I'd boated a fourth snapper. Now it was Jaro's turn. His customary YYYEEESSS, announced a hookup. I watched with pleasure as he boated a nice fat snapper. It seemed that he'd only just got that fish bagged when he also got a double hookup. He rightly set about dominating the fish on his trailing rig first as it was giving him considerable curry. And shortly afterward he boated a BEWDY! in his words. I could see from my vantage point around 100 metres away that it was indeed a good fish. He then turned his attention to his other outfit, boated the snapper on it and then magnanimously released it on the basis that it was not quite the size he was after (although of legal length).

It was about now that Harry, still fishing with bait and fishless, took the pledge. He ceremonially tossed his pilchards and mac tuna fillets away exclaiming that he was never going to use flesh bait again. He then withdrew from some dark corner of his yak a packet of soft plastics, blessed them and started impaling them on jig hooks. Will Harry now catch a fish? Read on.

Shortly afterward Jaro was in again. He now had three snapper, one of which was pretty big, in his bag. Harry comes up on the radio, announcing that the soft plastics have changed his life and that unfortunately he needs gaffing practice as the snapper he hooked immediately after switching to soft plastics (SPs) released itself yak-side. Jaro and I feel for him. But all was not lost. Again Harry comes up on the radio announcing the capture of a decent snapper. These SPs work, eh?

Jaro bags a fourth snapper. Now Jaro and I have four each, and have dropped a couple and Harry has a nice keeper. Time to turn for home and to face up to the Sunshine Beach shore break, which gets pretty fierce at times. We paddle in together, while talking on the radio with Steve, a Sunshine Beach resident and one of our regular kayak fishos, just flown in on the overnight flight from Singapore. He goes down to the beach to guide us to the best landing spots, which are best viewed from the beach side as the nuances of the waves are difficult to read from the ocean side. Harry goes in first and does a great job. Steps out onto the sand with dry feet. My turn now. I'm an old hand at this and I know this shore break well. Even so, everything is stowed and strapped down. I pick a wave, let it slide under me, then go like a scalded cat for the beach, Steve and Harry watching carefully, hoping to pick up a few pointers on beach entry methods. They do, I get clobbered by a following wave and end up in the drink. No harm is done and I drag my bedraggled carcass and my yak up the beach. Jaro is sitting out the back watching all this but finally starts his run. We three stand on the beach with cameras ready. He does a great job, allowing the yak to gently broach on a small wave then stepping out into knee deep water on the ocean side of the yak just before the next wave hits.

We measure and photograph the fish and agree: what a great day.

Above, Harry's snapper, just over 53cm.

Below, my take home catch.

Above, Jaro caught the best fish of the day. A very fat 62cm snapper.

Below, the three of us, from left, Harry, me, Jaro, display our respective catches. On Sunshine Beach, with National Park in the background. Wow!

Thanks for organizing, Jaro. Let's go again soon.

Red & Yellow Espri, black paddle
VHF channel 09 or 22 (if alone), Call Sign: sunshiner

big sweetie again, 01Dec08

From: "kevin long"
Subject: fishing today -- 01Dec08
Date: Monday, 1 December 2008 4:14 PM

Hi yakkers and others

A day of brilliant weather but few fish, but each of us caught something and Jaro did it again -- another big sweetlip.

I awoke at 0345 to the sound of kookaburras and a pale light in the eastern sky. Without getting out of bed I could see that there was no breeze and found I was unable to lie in until the alarm went off at 0420. So I was up and about at 0400 and down at the launch point car park at 0430. A quick stroll over to the beach revealed a flat sea and a couple of old guys with metal detectors going over the beach, one on each side of the groyne. I guess this searching must be worthwhile as they probably wouldn't bother otherwise.

I took this pic at 0442, just as I was about to launch. My fishing companions, Jaro and Harry, had yet to show but I knew they wouldn't be far behind.

Tiny waves, with Teewah high dunes in the left background, about 17km distant.

As you can no doubt judge, launch was a snap and I had the ocean to myself except for a dolphin which meandered over to check me out while I was setting up 'out the back'. Before I departed for the reef I noticed that Jaro had arrived at the beach and shortly after him, Harry.

And so I set off, at the forefront of the charge for a change. The beauty of the environment got to me immediately I set off, as the sun peeped over a low point in the skyline of the Noosa National Park, immediately to the east, well worth a photo:

A flat sea. Rising sun peeping over National Park skyline 0455 today, 26° 23 minutes south of the equator.

Paddling out to the shoal took less than 40 minutes as I benefited from a very slight SW breeze once further out and apparently a northerly current, as I had no trouble maintaining 7kph, as measured by GPS, and there was no opposing, nor assisting, wave activity. My trolled lure received no attention from predators on the way out, and at 0530 my first cast went out at a point west of the centre of the reef as I judged I'd be carried east on the breeze and the current. The drift direction was soon confirmed by the GPS and was mainly current activated, I think.

First Jaro, and then Harry (call sign Dirty Harry) checked in on the radio on arrival at the reef, Harry using his new ICOM M33 radio for the first time today. By 0555 I'd experienced no action at all and was beginning to wonder if this was another dead day fish-wise when I felt a slight tap on the line as the jig descended slowly into the 18m depth. I let the jig continue to sink in the hope that the fish would follow and attack; which action was soon rewarded with another tap followed by a smooth take up of the slack then unmistakeable signs that my jig had been engulfed. A brief, one-sided tussle was resolved in my favour and shortly a small but keeper snapper lay vanquished in the footwell. This was my first snapper in several trips so I was pleased to be back in the hunt.

A tasty snapper in the bag by 6am. Taken on soft plastic with 1/8oz jig head.

Time moves on to 8am. None of us had boated any more fish, the current continued to sweep us to the east and gave us a very pleasant drift and we'd all tried various techniques and parts of the reef. At 0811 I took this pic of Jaro as I went past him to start yet another drift. As I took the pic he mentioned that he'd hooked a good fish which had reefed him, as they occasionally do, shredding the last few metres of his line. Ah well, that's just one of the many trials we fishos have to put up with.

Jaro in Laguna Bay at 8.11am, ready for action. And the action came his way less than 30 minutes later.

I started my chosen drift on a slightly different track from Jaro's but was about 100m away from him and looking directly toward him when I heard him yell and reach over to his trailing rod, the one in the rod holder in the above pic. I noted the time -- 0835. The rod was bent over as Jaro grabbed it and immediately took the fight to the fish which was stripping line off against the drag. The fish was clearly a hard fighter for Jaro was engaged with it for several minutes before holding the fish up and letting Harry and me know by radio that it was a very good sweetlip, around 54cm he guessed, an estimate that proved pretty close later on when we measured it on the beach.

Aside from this burst of activity we were having a very quiet time of it out there so I was relieved to hear Harry report by radio that, at last, he was "on the board" with a small but keeper sweetlip. From time to time there were isolated bursts of splashing as pelagic predators carved into small pods of baitfish. On one occasion I spotted a plump tuna (possibly a bluefin) around 5-8kg launch itself clear out of the water within 20m or so of Harry, but behind him so he didn't see it. But by 10am we were still not getting regular action so we agreed that we'd leave for home at 1030. And by this time, there being no improvement in the situation we each started heading the 3.5km or so for the beach from slightly different parts of the reef. On the way back I came across Ian Tagg, keen and competent local kayak fisho, who was on his way out toward the shoal, trolling as he went. He and I exchanged greetings and he informed me that he'd just lost a Spanish Mackerel which he'd hooked just after leaving the beach at Middle Groyne. He'd clearly seen the fish, which had escaped by breaking off one of the hooks on a lure which he held up to show me. I have no reason to disbelieve Ian so it's highly likely that these very desirable and fierce mackerel are presently hunting in the bay.

We hit the beach in single file a minute or so apart, weaving our way among the chest-deep holidaymakers who were enjoying the perfect water conditions, then all three of us went for a brief dip also to cool down. The fish measuring and photographing then began accompanied by the usual questions from holidaymakers. So here are the pics -- the camera doesn't lie.

Jaro's beautiful 52cm sweetlip, taken on soft plastic mounted on 3/4oz jighead.

My snapper, top, and Harry's sweetlip, taken on his last piece of bait, the head of a pilchard.

Ever-smiling Jaro with his sweetlip backgrounded by a few ladies held by the chick-magnetism which pervaded the space around the beached yaks today, as usual.

Hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. Thanks for coming Jaro and Harry. Those pesky mackerel can't be far away! Let's go again soon.

Red & Yellow Espri, black paddle
VHF channel 09 or 22 (if alone), Call Sign: sunshiner

Big sweetie, 24Nov08

From: "kevin long"
Subject: Fishing today -- 24Nov08
Date: Monday, 24 November 2008 3:33 PM

Read this and weep. I am (weeping) as I write.

Tide: High -- 0552, 1.69; Low: 1158, 0.64. Wind: west 10knots. No significant swell in the Bay. Clear sky, clean blue water

Three of us set out from Middle Groyne this morning, with flat waters inshore and a jagged horizon which hinted of a stiffer breeze out wider.

Steve (Turtle Boy) at launch. Note the bananas protruding from his rod holders (or were they some sort of weird rods). How easy a launch is that?

We'd agreed that conditions were good for a paddle to Halls Reef via Little Hall's Reef, a distance of just over 5km. The 3 km or so to Little Halls was knocked over quite quickly as we're all conditioned to the standard 3.7km to Jew Shoal. There were no fish obviously feeding on the surface so, after pausing briefly to regroup, we pressed on to Halls Reef, a further 2km depending on marks used, punching into a steady breeze from the W-NW. I hadn't had my depth sounder last time I'd been out here so was interested in finding out what the bottom was like.

As we travelled we saw signs of a couple of small schools of pelagics feeding, but not enough to cause the terns to congregate and not enough to cause us to deviate from our course; and just before arrival at Hall's, Steve radioed that he'd hooked up on his trolling outfit. This fish turned out to be a very small bonito.

My mark, depth around 18m, at Hall's turned out to be relatively featureless on the sounder, but I have caught reefies out there so clearly it has a gravel or rubble bottom. Later as I drifted with the breeze, or paddled back up to restart a drift I saw unmistakeable signs on the sounder of rock shelves and lumpy bits, but it wasn't anywhere near as topographically interesting as Jew Shoal. Having arrived at Hall's at about 0630-ish, the three of us went to our own chosen locations and started drifting in the usual style. Conditions were perfect with a good breeze to power our drifts and clear water with no sign of tricho.

Just after we arrived at Hall's we all became aware of chatter on the radio. Normally our chosen channel is quiet except for our usage. Today however, a couple of other guys were on it and they were banging on about non-urgent medical problems and other trivia making it very difficult for us to get a word in. Even after I asked them politely to reduce chatter they kept it up. And so we changed to Channel 10 which proved to have no traffic.

By about 0800 none of us had any fish, nor even a bite and we could all feel the pull of Jew Shoal, at this time ~3km distant and down wind so we opted to travel to more familiar territory. On arrival at JS at 0845 I started to retrieve my trolled lure and immediately hooked up to a small bonito which I released after taking a pic. Shortly afterward, the reef received a visit from the Water Police who first checked the safety gear on a large power boat nearby and then approached Steve, checking that he had appropriate safety gear and no undersize fish. Steve passed the test and the police then moved off to other boats without checking Jaro and me.

Very small Australian bonito, no min legal size and not good eating.

In familiar territory now, we started our usual fishing technique. Result: just like Hall's Reef: nothing. At around 0930, with no hits at all for any of us and the only remarkable fishing event being a near miss from a small yellowtail king which came rocketing up to the yak to get a closer look at my jig as it was being retrieved, I decided to prospect to the east and south to see if there were any new territory which could be revealed by the sounder. Jaro and Steve decided to stick around JS central.

By 1015 I was in Granite Bay, unsuccesssfully trying to entice bream in the beautifully clear 3m deep water over the rock shelves there. The radio blared. Jaro reports that he's caught a nice snapper -- 45cm. Good for him I thought. I was tempted to return to JS but the day was getting warmer and I had to get home to tart myself up for house guests expected this afternoon, so I set course for home.

Granite Bay at 1015am today. No fish!

I'd just arrived at the shark net, the one near Middle Groyne, when the radio blared again. Jaro again, announcing the capture of a huge sweetlip and huge amounts of activity among the reef fish in the last 45 minutes. Bugger, I thought; but I really couldn't go back. Instead I beached the yak to the east of the groyne, disrobed to my budgie smugglers and plunged into the water for a cooling dip. This indulgence was thoroughly deserved I thought, as my GPS had shown I'd travelled over 18km by paddle this morning.

I get back to the yak and decide to check how Jaro is going, so call him up again. Just as we're discussing things he hooks up again and hurriedly signs off. I turn and drag my yak up the beach. Later I got the opportunity to invite Jaro around when he got in so that I could photograph the main fish in his catch. So here they are:

Grass sweetlip, just over 56cm long. The second biggest Jaro's ever caught and still bigger than my biggest. Well done Jaro.

49cm snapper.

Jaro, smiling, and fish.

I understand that Steve caught a sweetlip. We'd all appreciate a brief report from you two, Steve and Jaro, as to the techniques and locations involved today.

As for me, I'm lining up for Jew Shoal again in the morning when my companions from today have to play golf.

Red & Yellow Espri, black paddle
VHF channel 09 or 22 (if alone), Call Sign: sunshiner

Very quiet, 15Nov08

From: "kevin long"
Subject: fishing today -- 15nov08
Date: Saturday, 15 November 2008 2:07 PM

Hi guys

Yet another quiet day fish-wise, but beautiful weather and great fellowship, so very enjoyable. We're having an unusually quiet time of it lately -- nobody knows why. I didn't see a single turtle or dolphin today, and of course the whale migration has probably ended until we see them next June, heading north.

Tide: 2.17m. 0912. Wind: gentle SE after several days of very strong SE weather with big swells. Swell today, small. Moon: Full moon 13nov. Overcast with a tiny shower early on, clear skies later. Water clear with a tiny amount of trichodesmium on the surface in patches.

Today did not disprove the notion that northerly winds put the fish off the bite -- but we now suspect that any wind or lack of it puts fish off the bite.

I arrived at MG at 0445 to find Jaro had already unloaded his yak and was setting up. Having dashed down to the beach to confirm an easy (with care) launch, I returned to my yak to find Harry driving into the car park. There was no sign of Steve, but more of him later.

I took this pic just before I launched. It gives some idea of the conditions. Note the setting moon.

Jaro was first out, then I, followed by Harry. Once ready, we set individual courses for our chosen start point at JS, Jaro leading. As the breeze was from the SE, I opted to head straight for the southern edge of the reef (to a mark on the SE corner).

The paddle out was easy and uneventful. It being a Saturday, there were several power boats at JS and there was one Hobie-borne kayak fisho, Dave, a Brisbane-based Army officer, whom I'd met before (and who last Friday 07Nov trolled up a 1.15m cobia near Granite Bay after fruitlessly fishing JS on the same day we were last there).

My first cast went out at 0550. Jaro and Harry were further west. It was about 30 minutes before I managed to snare a small black-tipped cod (undersize) and shortly afterward a grass sweetlip (also undersize). Harry later told me that he'd had two jig heads bitten off almost immediately on arrival at the reef but got no further action, indicating a possible school of mackerel moving through. After an hour or so, with Jaro and Harry also reporting little or no action and all of us experiencing a very slow drift to the NW, we tried the northern side of the reef, where Harry at last caught a just legal snapper using bait.

Then a radio message came in from Steve, on the beach. He was about to launch and Jaro told him that things were very quiet. In due course, Steve arrived, having experienced a bit of adventure in his surf zone transit (but he can tell about that if he wants).

For the last hour, around 0800, we moved back to the southern side of the reef where Harry livened things up with a brief encounter with a fish which took his bait, leapt clear of the water once, then eventually broke (or bit) him off. After discussion with Dave, who saw the fish when it leaped and my own brief sighting I reckon that this was probably a very large long-tom, or less likely, a very small marlin. Many years ago I hooked a tiny marlin out there and it behaved similarly, but it was taken on a fast trolled jig head, which was lost when the marlin cut the line on its bill.

And so we pulled the pin at around 0900, fishless except for Harry's unremarkable snapper. We saw a few birds working slightly to the west of our course home and went over to investigate but there was no sign of marine predators.

I took this pic of my yakking companions Steve, Harry and Jaro, all set to head through the surf zone after our trip today (hats off just for the pic). Note that there are no rods protruding. All landed safely.

We're thinking of heading out on Monday again, possibly to Hall's Reef this time, weather permitting. Those pesky spotty macs have to put in an appearance soon.

Red & Yellow Espri, black paddle
VHF channel 09 or 22 (if alone), Call Sign: sunshiner

Dead quiet, 07Nov08

From: "kevin long"
Subject: fishing Friday 07Nov08
Date: Sunday, 9 November 2008 10:55 AM

Hi guys

The quietest day ever. Harry, Jaro and I fronted on a beautiful morning. Great conditions, just enough breeze to get a reasonable drift going, but no current, in my judgement.

None of us caught anything of any significance. I had to leave at 0800-ish and by that time, fishing since 0545, I hadn't even had a touch.

From now on we should be prepared to tackle feeding schools of pelagics (spotty macs, etc) which could turn up at any time so make sure you're tackled up for that.

A couple of pics from Friday...

The scene at launch time. Mist hangs over Noosa Nat Park. Dolphins were playing right out the front of the groyne.

Harry starting for JS. The distant shore can just be seen on the left side of the image. 

It's looking good for Friday. Maybe a diversion to Hall's Reef for a change?

Red & Yellow Espri, black paddle
VHF channel 09 or 22 (if alone), Call Sign: sunshiner