sweeties galore, 27Aug08

From: "kevin long"
Subject: Fishing today -- a new keeper species
Date: Wednesday, 27 August 2008 5:18 PM

G'day yakkers

Another near perfect weather situation today tempted us to hit the ocean. Mal, Jaro and I fronted at 0700 and shortly afterward launched into a tiny swell accompanied by a gentle SW breeze and about 5/10 cloud cover.

I was the last to launch and last to arrive at our chosen location, all having paddled the 4km or so in good time. By 0815 I had the first keeper, a sweetlip, in the fishbox but Jaro and Mal reported no action.

By 0900 I had three reasonable sweeties in the bag and then the breeze started to shut down. Mal left at about 0930 leaving Jaro and me to soak up the ambience and the sunshine which had emerged with the loss of the breeze. Shortly afterward the sea glassed out and we languidly drifted with the current getting occasional hits from mainly small to medium sweeties.

The time flew for me and before long it was 1130 and by now Jaro had two medium sized sweetlip and I had three. From 1130 the action picked up a little and I noticed that the current, formerly running quite strongly toward the NE had dropped away. The most notable sign that the action had picked up was a solid strike on Jaro's trailing jighead. I was nearby and watched him play out this fish, which was clearly better than the others we'd been encountering. After a short tussle Jaro's fish was beaten and floating next to the yak. Jaro posed to show his first ever keeper-sized Maori cod, and a new keeper species for our group, although many of us have previously caught undersize specimens:

It doesn't look so big in this picture but it went 44cm and has a very solid, deep body (see pic below). These are a superb eating fish but note, once again, that the legal size is 38cm. (Editor: Incorrect due to misinterpretation of rules. Min legal size at the time was 45cm.)

We pulled the pin at 1300, Jaro somewhat reluctantly, but at least he'd achieved his aim of providing a superb fresh fish meal for the household (incl visiting guest). Of interest among my catch were a single just-size snapper (released) and a juvenile pearl perch (also released). Note that last trip we couldn't catch any sweetlip, but caught only smallish snapper. This trip we caught only one small snapper and several sweetlip. Why? I haven't a clue.

We paddled back easily as the breeze had now switched to the NE, covering the 4km in under 40 minutes. On arrival at the beach, Jaro pulled out his fish bag to display his Maori cod to the admiring beach bums and was horrified to discover it wasn't in there. Then he spotted it, wedged behind the back of his seat and a certainty to be lost over the side if he'd rolled or swamped the yak on the way through the surf zone. The only plausible explanation for the situation is that the fish somehow managed to work its way out of the slippery plastic bag in which Jaro stores his fish on capture.

Take home catch (5 sweetlip for me, 2 sweetlip and cod for Jaro), Jaro's cod prominent:

One other noteworthy event occurred. While Jaro was cleaning his fish a wobbegong shark about 1.2m long swam right up into the shallows, presumably following the fishy scent trail which we'd caused. It hung around quite brazenly and probably has taken up residence in the rocks of the groyne. If you encounter this animal do not attempt to feed it as they have jaws like a steel trap and could easily rip your hand to shreds. Having said that, they are reputed not to be dangerous to humans unless molested. They are quite common on the reefs around here and frequently seen by snorkellers.

That's probably the last fishing trip for me for a month or so, as I'll be away from Noosa until 27Sep.

I look forward to reading about your fishing exploits during my absence.

Tight lines, yakkers

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

Snapper, JS, 21Aug08

From: "kevin long"
Subject: fishing today 21Aug08
Date: Thursday, 21 August 2008 3:26 PM

Four starters this morning. Jim, Jaro, Eric (first timer), and I. Overcast, cool southerly breeze to start with. Very easy launch.

Eric opted to pedal out to JS, easily keeping up with me, the navigator. Conditions were ideal for fishing, albeit a little cold, with overcast, clear water, very little swell, but it was a bit joggly as a result of a confused chop coming from the east.

Eric, who is a keen fisho but has never fished in the open ocean from a yak, was the first to score a keeper -- a small snapper, which was fortunate as, or so he confided to me, he'd promised his wife he'd bring home a snapper.

Shortly afterward he got another -- beginner's luck no doubt. And then shortly after that he started to become seasick. Jim by this time had caught little of note and reported that he was "freezing" so very soon our fishing party was down to two, with Jim and Eric departing for shore. At this time, Jaro and I had nothing in the bag, but I did catch and release a maori cod, whose pic is below for the benefit of yakkers who haven't met this particular species.

Above: Maori Cod, minimum size for retention: 45cm. This one about 30cm.

Shortly after Jim and Eric left I bagged a keeper snapper. The fishing was very slow, with occasional bursts of action which encouraged us to hang in there. Jaro reported dropping a good fish (a probable snapper) which seized the jig very soon after his cast hit the water, and I saw him capture a near legal pearl perch, bigger than one I caught. I bagged another just-size keeper snapper, then Jaro, in the last five minutes, at last got one.

And so we headed off toward our landing site, 4km distant. On the way we encountered several schools of bait fish on the surface. Although occasionally they'd burst out of the water in fright (as you do, if you're a baitfish) we couldn't see any fishy predators attacking them, although the local terns and gannets were certainly trying for a meal.

Above: a baitfish school ripples the smooth water of Laguna Bay

Transit of the surf zone was completely uneventful due less to the keenly honed skills of Jaro and I than the total lack of significant swell. And as usual, we captured a pic of our meagre combined take-home catch. Note that this does not include Eric's two fish.

Three succulent snapper, small but welcome.

Hopefully I'll get another trip in before Mary and I depart next week for a month's absence from paradise.

Thanks for organizing, Jaro. Let's do it again soon.

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

big sweetlip, plus, 14Aug08

From: "kevin long"
Subject: A stonker of a sweetlip -- and that's not all -- fishing Thursday 14Aug08
Date: Thursday, 14 August 2008 4:28 PM

Every now and then Jew Shoal fires. Today was such a day.

Although it was warmer than yesterday, Jaro and I, the only starters, were still shivering at 0700 as we trundled our yaks down to a lake-like launch site.

As usual, we took a few minutes or so to get sorted after launch but were soon paddling toward the northern horizon, grateful for the warming side-effect of the physical activity as the sun was still obscured by a layer of stratus cloud.

Once at JS we discovered we had perfect fishing conditions -- overcast, 5knot SW breeze, little or no swell and crystal clear water. I was intent on using the sonar to confirm some interesting bottom structure I'd found recently and Jaro stayed with me for 15 minutes or so, during which time he caught a small reefie, before deciding that my drift was unlikely to be productive and headed off to find a better one. At around 0820 I boated a nice bream (pic below) which completely engulfed the soft plastic and jig in 22m of water. Thinking that perhaps this may be the only keeper I'd get, I put him on the keeper stringer and continued on my drift from SW to NE.

About 15 min later I boated a very nice keeper sweetlip (below), having earlier released an undersize snapper, and called Jaro to let him know. Jaro reported that it was quiet where he was.

Ten minutes later after a tight tussle, another, much larger sweetlip (below) joined the earlier one plus the bream on the stringer and I again called Jaro who at last decided that possibly I was in a better drift than he was.

Together we paddled back to the start of the drift and soon afterward Jaro, who was now only about 10 metres from me, yelled that he was hooked up. He was unable to identify the quite small fish he'd hooked and as I was interested in identifying it and getting a pic, I tidied up my gear and paddled over to him, just as his other rod in the rod holder went off. So now he had one unidentified fish in the foot well and another giving him curry on the other rod. As I'd come over prepared to take a pic, I pulled out the camera and captured the action:

After a solid tussle, with Jaro repeating "It's a pretty good fish!" as he does, the behemoth came alongside. And without much ceremony Jaro deftly gaffed him and held up for the camera the biggest grass sweetlip either of us has ever seen:

Just look at the size of that mouth! Anyway, I now returned to my original mission -- the unidentified smaller fish. I asked Jaro to hold it up for a pic before releasing it. To my delight I saw that it was a pearl perch (undersize -- limit 35cm). These have the reputation of being one of the best table fish available to anglers and it was the first I'd seen caught at JS. Pic below (note the big sweetlip still held on the gaff in Jaro's other hand)

So on and on the action continued, mainly for me, but occasionally for Jaro. I estimate that I hooked about 30 fish of several species, including my first and second pearl perch (both undersize). I released 4 or 5 snapper which were just size or just over, and another 4 or 5 which were well undersize. By 1215 my fish stringer had 6 keepers on it, Jaro had three keepers, and we left them biting to head for home on a sea which was glassing out.

Mainly because of the lack of sunshine, I suppose, there were no nubile wenches to greet our triumphal return but there was one dear old lady who approached me and asked, having seen Jaro stuff his sweetie into his bag after gutting it: "Dearie, what sort of fish was that one that that young man caught?" I gently informed her that it was a sweetlip and that her "young man" was in fact little younger than herself, before bursting into laughter.

A couple more pics taken after return to beach:

By the way, Jaro's fish, at 62cm, broke my grass sweetlip record of 52cm set last November. I wonder if there are any bigger ones out there?

A TOP day.

Some of you on my address list may be unaware that Harvey has set up a blog for us and, having recently graduated as psc (proficient snapper catcher), has upgraded the pics to include one of his best fish. Fair enough Harv! The blog is at: http://noosayakers.blogspot.com

When are we going again, Jaro and Co?

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

sunshine snapper, 10Aug08

From: "kevin long"
Subject: fishing today
Date: Sunday, 10 August 2008 4:36 PM

G'day yakkers

As it has been the last week or so at the close-in reefs, fishing was very slow today. Wonderful launch and recovery situation at Sunshine today however, and the early morning NW breeze dropped out by about 0800.

(Above) Ready to roll!! But neither of us did!

I did get a nice snapper before 0800, and at a piece of reef in 23metres detected with my new sonar only 1.5km from the beach.

Both Jaro and I tried hard, but could not improve the catch. And don't worry, Harv, this fish was not bigger than yours, but it put up a fine performance. Many other boats out there, but none were seen by us to catch anything at all.

The return to the beach was beautifully timed by Jaro who stayed dry and picked the gap between sets.

Wednesday's looking good, and possibly also Thursday. Over to you Jaro for coord, and thanks for coming today -- it was fun even though the fish were scarce.

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

Harvey's snapper, 04Aug08

From: "kevin long"
Subject: fishing today -- 04aug08 -- Harvey joins the club
Date: Monday, 4 August 2008 3:09 PM

Hi guys

It was Harvey's day today. For 18 months he's been under training to be a fair dinkum fisho and today he graduated, although there are some fine points still to be inculcated.

Jim, Harv and I were greeted at 7am with a flat sea, similar to yesterday, when my son Nick and I went out and came home fishless, but what a magnificent day it was! Today we launched without even getting water into the Espri foot wells. Harv and Jim headed for the shoal while I decided to travel to the shoal by a slightly different route to see if I could find some new patches of reef with my new Cuda 242 sonar. As a result I arrived at the shoal some 30-45 min after the other guys, but my deviation had proven interesting as I found a couple of bits of possible new reef but didn't bother trying them out. And no, I'm not going to tell you where they are.

As yesterday, things were dead quiet at JS, with even the little reefies not showing up in the catch. At around 0830 I looked over to Harv, about 200m away, and could see that his yak was pointing into the wind and that there was a solid bend in his rod. I guessed that he might have a fish but it could also be the bottom so turned away to concentrate on trying to catch one for myself -- for other than a couple of grinners trolled up earlier on, I was fishless, as was Jim.

A few minutes later I spied Harvey paddling toward me. As he got closer he called out that he needed my help -- to extract the hook from an "enormous snapper" (his words) that he'd boated. Harvey's description was a little exaggerated, but nevertheless it was a nice snapper, the best of this season so far among our small bunch of yakkers. Here it is:

Congratulations Harv. Please tell us what it measured.

Jim and Harv left for home around 1015, leaving me fishless and frustrated, but determined to try a few other spots before my self imposed deadline of 1100. By 1045 I was still fishless but a few minutes later I felt the magic little "tap" on the line that was connected to my 1/8 ounce jighead and soft plastic. I took up the slack and was pleased to feel resistance to my strike and then the fish surged away with the characteristic bumping run of a snapper. A couple of minutes later he was mine. Here he is:

Although smaller than Harvey's he (44cm) was welcome nevertheless, and with that I headed for home. Another pic, taken after beach landing. Aren't they magnificent fish!

Yum, Yum

Plenty of good weather coming up, guys. Time to dust off those snapper outfits.

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