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