Spotty macs, 27Mar08

From: "kevin long"
Subject: You should have been there!
Date: Thursday, 27 March 2008 12:18 PM

Eat your hearts out, yakkers.

Jaro and I decided to go again this morning -- the weather being so good. We launched at 0700-ish on a glassy sea, with gentle swell, with patches of wheeling and diving terns just offshore hinting at the possibility of pelagic predators. Well, hold onto your seats.

We were heading out to JS, about 500m from launch when I decided that the bird action, and accompanying splashing, 200-300m away, was worth investigating. Jaro agreed to go along too and we altered course to intercept the action. I'd anticipated that there might be some action of this sort and was already rigged up with a small "slug", tied directly onto the line. At about 50m range, I could see that there was some serious carnage going on, with swirls, chomphs, splashes and tiny baitfish showering out of the surface like silver beads being sprinkled on the surface.

First cast, I hook up. A quick screaming run, then slack line. Lure gone -- perhaps a weak spot in the line? I hurriedly re-rig with a similar lure and cast again. Meanwhile, Jaro is frantically re-rigging his casting outfit to suit the new situation. My second cast -- immediate hookup and again the line goes slack and the lure is gone. At last the penny drops -- these fish feeding voraciously right next to the yak are mackerel and just then this is confirmed when I eyeball 3-4 fish which shot past the yak close enough so that I could identify the species -- spotties. By now Jaro is ready. He has rigged with a large slug and he has also added a heavy monofilament leader. He casts and his immediate hookup is announced in typical fashion -- a very loud "yahoo". I wait while he plays out the fish and boats his first spottie -- a very nice specimen. He's got a smile as wide as Laguna Bay as I paddle over in the glassy conditions to take a photo:

I'm down to one slug and have no wire or leader but decide to go with what I've got, knowing that there's a fighting chance that I'll hook up a spottie in the outer part of the jaw, where those scissor-like teeth can't get at the 12 pound monofilament. So I cast again, and again hookup, and this time the lure holds while the spottie makes several screaming runs against the light drag I've set to minimise the possibility of a cut line. Meanwhile, Jaro is hooked up again...

I play my fish out, deal with it, leash its tail to prevent unwanted loss over the side, and then Jaro paddles over and I prevail upon him to take my photo with my camera. He obliges:

About now, I remind Jaro of the bag limit on spotties: 5. Remember, he's never caught a spottie mac before. Anyway the aquatic mayhem continues. Occasional small sharks can be seen feeding on the sprats, and once or twice I spot a tuna leap clear of the water. The spotties tend not to do that, being content to stay below the waterline. Jaro's score is up to three, and I've lost my third slug. I chuck a soft plastic into a feeding frenzy and don't even get a chance to start retrieving it before it's eaten and the line severed.

Below: a couple of scenes typical of this morning's activities:

Jaro has four, then releases his fifth ("a little small" he says). I borrow a slug from Jaro and while I'm tying it on, Jaro hooks up and is towed past me by what is obviously a more powerful fish. I suspect a tuna and follow on out of curiosity. Sure enough, after a tough fight of five minutes or so, Jaro has a good sized mack tuna (his first -- another first) under control next to the yak. He consults me on its eating qualities and I advise that it should be released as it's nowhere near as good on the plate as spotty mackerel. Here's the tuna:

It swims away a bit languidly, but turns the right way up and with a beat of that wonderful tail, heads off, hopefully for a long life.

Shortly afterward, Jaro bags out on spotties, I have three, and we agree that we have enough. So we leave them biting. We paddle the 500 or so metres back to the beach and that's it. Take a few pics, answer the beach-goers questions (no, they aren't whiting or bream, they're spotty mackerel), clean the gore off the yaks and head home for brekky. What a morning -- two hours of unceasing action, surface strikes, screaming drags and glassy seas, all 500m from the launch site. Wow -- you've gotta love this kayak fishing!

As I said, you should have been there...

Red & Yellow Espri liberally sprinkled with spotty mac scales, black paddle,
VHF channel 09, Call Sign: sunshiner

sweetie and snap, 26Mar08

From: "kevin long"
Subject: yak fishing today -- 26mar08
Date: Wednesday, 26 March 2008 3:21pm

The honour of writing this report falls to me, and I do so while my unspectacular but welcome catch gently chills in the fridge in preparation for filleting later.

Starters: Jaro and your correspondent, who arrived at MG at 0630-ish. Shortly thereafter I captured the moment, but not before the wheel fell off Jaro's yak trolley, possibly a portent of his day.

Anyway, this is how it looked at launch time:

The surf crossing was actually a bit meaner than the picture indicates, but J and I were out the back with little hassle a couple of minutes later. Having set up our gear, we set course for JS, although I was flying blind initially as my GPS opted to play the "can't find the satellites" game (which it does in about one in 20-30 startups). To help it, I tell it that it is now hundreds of km from where it previously turned on and it dutifully does a total sky search which successfully locates the desired orbiting objects in a few minutes.

About 1.5km from the beach we started to encounter lots of terns feeding on baitfish being massacred from below by tuna. In a few minutes we were right amongst the carnage. And although I briefly switched to a small slug lure, I was unsuccessful in enticing a predator and anyway my mission was to catch a snapper or two. Here's one pic of the action right next to the yak (note that, in the original pic, the top of the tail fin of a tuna is visible in the splash on the right):

As you can see from the pic above, the water has cleaned up considerably. And so, mindful of our mission, we turned away from the tuna action and headed for the reef, which we found where it usually is, a short while later. As there was a gentle SW breeze I opted to start my drift ~300m SW from the centre. On my second or third cast with the jig I hooked up to a fish which fought differently to our usual quarry. I suspect that it was a small trevally as it darted about all over the place but I can't tell you for sure as it managed to throw the hook at the last stage of the fight -- not an auspicious start on this near perfect (weather) day.

Continuing the drift I was shortly afterward rewarded with a strike which I correctly judged to be a sweetlip, and although not huge, a keeper nevertheless, and my first from the reef in 2008. Here he is:

Shortly after this fish was boated, Jaro, still fishless and looking a little glum, paddled over to compare notes. Just as he arrived I hooked up again to what was apparently a slightly better fish, so I played it for all it was worth, as I'm sure Jaro would have done were the situation reversed. Despite my opinion expressed earlier to Jaro that this was another, slightly larger sweetlip, it turned out to be a snapper -- another keeper!! And here he is:

By around 0930 I caught another slightly smaller snapper, but still a keeper, and also around that time the 5knot SW breeze dropped away to nothing, killing our drift. We persisted until around 1015 when we decided to call it a day. Jaro hates to go home fishless and so he was not a happy chappy to leave, but at least it was a glorious morning to be out there.

We set course for MG and as we travelled it became more and more apparent that we were again going to run the gauntlet of tuna schools, baitfish balls, and wheeling terns. Our few half hearted attempts to hook up on a tuna proved fruitless but at last a brighter spot appeared in Jaro's day: his trolled lure picked up some discarded braid fishing line, which turned out to have a large expensive Rapala (or similar) lure attached to it. So Jaro's lure collection received a free augmentation.

And so we arrived back at our start point. We picked the surf break nicely and one behind the other, cruised onto the beach. Now, the proof of the chick-magnetism of mature kayak fishermen. No sooner were we back on our feet on the beach after a three-four hour sit down (or on-top) when we were mobbed by damsels wanting to have their photos taken with us. Jaro, I think we could start charging for this privilege. Anyway here's one of them:

Weather's looking great for tomorrow. We might just go again. Call me if you're interested.

Red & Yellow Espri, black paddle
VHF channel 09, Call Sign: sunshiner

sweetlip, 21Mar08

Subject: Report for 21/03/08
Date: Saturday, 22 March 2008 7:13 PM

Hello Noosa Yakkers,

Report Fishing 21/03/08.

Starters Jim, Jaro and Kevin. The beach breakers were a bit challenging and were certainly a great inducer of the required adrenalin rush to get those paddles flaying to get out in time between wave sets. Timing was of the essence and I am proud to report that all made it out in professional style which I know suitably impressed onshore lookers as one guy told me he didn't fancy my chances (we went at different times).

The paddle out was uneventful as there was essentially an offshore breeze with it being calm inshore and more choppy at JS. By the way, I felt that the weather forecast by Seabreeze was spot on with the wind strengthening to the wind speed predicted as the morning wore on. We never felt anxious about the conditions.

We set about our fishing and I joyfully landed a good sized sweetlip at about 8.30am. My first fish in months. Everyone caught a few small fish of various types, which were returned to the sea. Jim left relatively early... sad to say fishless. Just as Kevin and I were contemplating giving up I caught another.... a good sized keeper. This rekindled our enthusiasm for a little while but to no avail.

The journey back was also uneventful with the chop becoming negligible as we came into the shelter of the headland. We had the same fun gunning for the shore. Once again our timing was impeccable and we all landed safely and upright with a huge crowd of Easter holiday makers looking on and as usual coming over to see our rigs and our catch. Kevin, our fishing mentor and guru, also sad to say came back fishless. Both Jim and Kevin of course suggested I share the catch but it would not have been fair to give to one and not the other so I kept both fish.


The prowler with fish scales on it.