macs, baitball, vid 21Feb09

From: "kevin long"
Subject: fishing today -- 21feb09
Date: Saturday, 21 February 2009 5:16 PM

Jaro and Jim, be prepared to weep.

Steve and I were the only nominated starters this morning. I was launched just after 0530 in beautiful conditions...

0536. Ready to go, on a magnificent Noosa morning.

I'd pretty much resigned myself to going alone as Steve still hadn't shown up by the time I was rigged up out the back and ready to fish at about 0550. Then the radio blared -- Steve informing me that he'd arrived in the carpark and would be with me soon. There were a few birds searching for a fresh fish breakfast -- a strong sign that there could be fishy predators around also -- so I decided not to wait but to troll gently to the eastern side of the bay and then make up my mind whether to head out to the Hell's Gates area, Jew Shoal, or whatever. As Steve and I were in contact by radio I knew we could easily rendezvous later.

Very soon after I started trolling to the ENE I noticed a flock of birds in feeding mode about 500m away to the north, and as the light improved, I could see them more clearly. I approached this activity gently and unobtrusively and saw that the terns were feeding on baitfish which were packed in dense schools near the NP shark nets (again!). No fishy predators were evident however, and I didn't even cast a lure as the bait was far too dispersed. So I gently turned through 180° and began heading more west, scanning the horizon as I travelled for signs of more avian activity. Before long I spotted a dense flock of birds just north of the river mouth so headed in their general direction, still trolling and travelling easily without much effort at 5kph. By 0630 I'd reached the activity I'd spotted about 20 minutes earlier, to find a bait ball -- a dense mass of baitfish right on the surface. The ball was only about 3 metres in diameter and even in the restricted light available (it was overcast as well as early morning) the typical brown colour of the ball could just be discerned. These were baitfish a couple of inches long and usually the reason that they are on the surface, and thus accessible to the terns, is that even more fierce underwater predators have forced them into this position. I knew, therefore, that there was a strong chance that a well presented lure would be attacked by these predators and as soon as I was in position I fired off a cast, across the top of the bait ball and well beyond it. A quick few cranks of the reel handle was all it took -- a swirl appeared behind my lure and it was unceremoniously engulfed and I had my first hookup of the day. Yahoo!

It wasn't a big fish and I thought that it was most likely a mackerel tuna but even so it had enough vigour to tow me right past the bait ball so that I got a close look at the tightly-packed hapless baitfish as I cruised past propelled by my tuna. A couple of minutes later my prediction of a mackerel tuna was proven correct and I boated my fish and took a pic or two, after which I stowed him in my fishbox for possible later use as sashimi or bait.

0631hrs. First catch of the day. A small mackerel tuna.

Shortly after this Steve joined me at this spot as I'd told him by radio what was happening. He told me he'd caught a tiny mac tuna just off Middle Groyne immediately after launch but his casts into the area where I now was proved fruitless, even though the bait ball was still present. I was not interested in catching more mac tuna so I suggested a shift to Little Hall's Reef, some 2km away to the north. He agreed and off we went, trolling as we paddled over a placid and gently rolling ocean accompanied by a SW breeze of around 5 knots. As soon as the GPS indicated that we were some 200m from the reef mark I started concentrating on the sonar display, looking for the characteristic bumps of a reef to appear. And soon they did, accompanied by signs of dense schools of baitfish, so I confirmed my GPS mark was good, and circled around a little to get a feel for this reef which I've rarely fished before. Having decided that it was worth a try for sweetlip or similar, I quickly swapped the chrome casting "slug" lure on my casting outfit for a soft plastic rig, deployed the drogue and started fishing the SP for whatever might be interested, hopefully sweetlip or snapper. Despite signs of fish (albeit small ones) on the sonar my first couple of casts on my downwind drift enticed nothing. I've never seriously fished this area before so lacked confidence or "feel" for the location and was beginning to wonder if there was anything here worth fishing for when, on my third or fourth cast I felt a slight resistance typical of a "take" by a fish. Sure enough I was "on", and a nice fish it was, too for it steadily took line off against the drag as it headed for the bottom (depth: 14m), in a run typical of a sweetlip -- head down and go for the reef. In a short but exhilarating time it was all over, and a very nice sweetlip, at least as large as my previous biggest, lay beside the yak.

0716hrs. Steve came over and took this pic of me and Mr G. Sweetlip in my office.

A closer look at this beautiful and delicious fish. Note the soft plastic and jig head still in its mouth.

My day was now made, what else could lie in store? Steve and I continued to fish the reef, now sure that there were fish to be had there, today. Despite that, apart from a few half-hearted bumps by small fish and the capture of yet another grinner, again on the SP, by around 0815 neither of us had had any further action, although Steve was visited by a dolphin and her calf, who leaped nearby then swam past directly under his yak. I began to get itchy feet and mentioned to Steve that I was considering moving back toward the river mouth, which was on the way home anyway.

So a few minutes later, we'd reverted to our trolling and casting rigs and were heading south again, into an increasing SW breeze. Still there were plenty of signs of terns, individually and in small groups, hunting for food in our vicinity, and every now and then a large mass of baitfish would show up on the sonar display. Clearly there was plenty of food around, but where were the predatory pelagics we love to try to catch?

The paddling was easy and the scenery very easy on the eye. We travelled parallel to the North Shore beach, free of visible development except for a solitary hilltop home blending peacefully into its surrounding forest. Every now and again dolphins near us leapt, in pairs in unison, totally clear of the ocean, a "trick" that tame dolphins perform for tourists who marvel at the ability of man to train them -- Hah! Shortly we came upon a shoal of baitfish which extended for 100 metres or more in length and whose individual members were so jostled for space that terns were able to pick up a meal easily as the less wary school members allowed themselves to get too close to the surface. But this shoal had no apparent marine predators, its individuals were not densely packed together and the shoal was moving without haste to the south. A couple of casts by Steve and me got nothing but unfortunate tiny baitfish impaled on the comparatively large hooks of our lures. Steve pointed out to me that there was some more frantic bird action further east. I turned to look and noticed that a power boat was hove-to near the site, surmised that possibly the occupants were fishing and so proposed to Steve that we should take a look. He opted to stay with the shoal we were presently attending so I offered to checkout the more distant bird action and give him a call as to what I found.

I approached the location shortly before 0900 and could immediately see that a baitball was the centre of attention for the wheeling terns. The two guys in the power boat were doing the right thing and holding back from the baitball, casting toward it, rather than charging up to it as sometimes they do, dispersing the ball. I manoeuvered into a position where I would not interfere with the activities of the other guys, stood off about 20m from the 2 metre wide baitball and fired off a cast which accurately went about 20m past the baitball and a little to the left of it. One thing I've learned over the years in situations like this is that high speed retrieval of the lure, if possible skipping it across the water surface, seems to throw a switch in predators, causing them to go for broke and throw caution to the wind. So I madly cranked my reel and sure enough, there was a wild surface CRASH! and I was hooked up, with the fish immediately stripping line off my reel in a run away from me. It then swung back and, looking down, I caught sight of three or four mackerel passing under the boat. These were the predators which were keeping the bait balled up. Still hooked up, I radioed Steve and told him that there were mackerel here, that I was hooked up and that he'd best get his yak over here ASAP. As I discovered quite soon, I'd hooked a Queensland school mackerel (aka doggie mackerel). Fairly quickly, he was in the yak.

0904hrs. Queensland school mackerel, min size 50cm, bag limit 30 until 28Feb09 (10 wef 01Mar09).

Removing the lure from this fish was quite difficult and it took me several minutes, while all of this time the nearby bait ball was still attracting huge amounts of attention from the terns and presumably the mackerel, although the attentions of the latter were conducted well below the waterline, and invisible to me. The mackerel were probably picking off stragglers near the bottom of the ball.

By now Steve had arrived and he said to me on arrival "There's a bird on the back of your yak". I rotated the top part my body with some difficulty to visually check this strange claim and sure enough, there was a sooty coloured tern look-alike, preening itself on my back deck. How long it had been there I had no idea. I immediately decided to take a pic or two as it's not every day one gets a visitor such as this.

0905hrs. My rear deck visitor, species unknown, but will check later. Steve and Noosa headland in background.

Now confident that I knew the tactics that worked in this particular situation, once I'd extracted the lure, stowed the fish and done a bit of housekeeping I turned my attention back to the baitball. I appraised Steve of the situation and went back to the baitball to demonstrate the tactics and technique which had proven successful. Again I manoeuvered into a position which allowed for the longest cast in reference to the bait ball, and fired off cast #2. Bang!, on again, with this time a much bigger surface splash and a much more powerful run. Clearly this was no school mackerel, or if so it was an unusually large specimen. My opponent towed me clear of the bait ball and made several long runs against the reel drag accompanied by that screaming zzz sound which is like music to the keen fisherman. This one took me several minutes to subdue on the 12lb line and matching tackle that I was using. A spotted mackerel, and a beauty, I noted, mentally. I readied the gaff, allowed the fish one more circle of the yak to tire itself out a little more then drew it toward me to deliver the fatal blow. Then the lure detached itself... and the fish swam languidly away.

Back to the baitball. Cast #3. Bang! on again.This time it was a school mackerel like the first and very quickly it was dispatched. Back to the bait ball...

Cast #4. You guessed it -- on again instantly. This time I was almost certain early on that the fish was a spotted mackerel similar to the previous which had escaped. Another vigorous struggle ensued during which the fish towed me straight toward Steve's yak and he fended me off just before we collided. And the bird was still on the stern of the yak. Several minutes passed during which, I later found, my camera was running, lying in my lap, lens facing the sky, in video mode. Some interesting footage and sound recording resulted. Sure enough, at the end of the fight a beautiful spotted mackerel appeared yak-side. This time I was taking no chances and gaffed him -- probably a little early as it turned out, for no sooner had I crash tackled him into the footwell than he jumped out again (this done with far more alacrity than I can muster, even though I have legs). But the lure was still holding him and the wire trace gave an extra margin of safety. The gaff was at hand so I put another hole in him, this time neatly in the head where the first should have been. This fish then made his second visit to the footwell where I held him down with my feet which are shod, for this very reason in ankle high dive bootees. Once I was sure he was unlikely to jump out again, I cradled his head in my feet for a photo.

0929hrs. Spotted mackerel. Min legal size 60cm.Bag limit: 5

The lure, inhaled right into the throat, was too difficult to extract from this fish so I opted to cut the line and leave it in there until I got back to shore. I tail roped the spotty and whacked him into the fish box where he joined the mackerel tuna, the sweetlip and two school mackerel -- enough fish for me for today. Now I turned my attention to the camera, intent on video-ing the baitball if possible...

The baitball as seen by the camera held underwater next to the yak.

The baitball as seen by us. Note the brownish "shadow" on the water -- that's the baitfish. That's MG in the background, 2km away.

And here’s the action as seen by the video camera:

With a full fish box, I headed for home while Steve kept trying to get a hookup. My little bird companion stayed with me all of this time, drawing delighted stares and finger-pointing from several drifting power boat occupants whom we closely passed. Even though the re-entry through the surf zone looked totally benign, I followed my normal procedure of totally securing everything and noted, as I started my run through the surf transit zone, that the little bird was still game to come in with me. It was an easy entry but my visitor bailed out just before I hit the beach, as related to me by several beach goers who saw it on the yak as I was coming in.

My visitor left a calling card on the yak. It had been there at least 1.5hrs.

The usual photos on the measure mat/lie detector:

grass sweetlip

school mackerel

spotted mackerel

What a great morning! Steve and I finished off with a refreshing swim in the clear blue water at our landing beach. Oh and some kids on the beach helped me to gut the fish and showed keen interest in the various organs (gills, livers, etc) so I asked and received their Mum's permission to take a photo of them with some of the fish.

Future kayak fishers?

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

madcow first solo 20Feb09

From: "Mad Cowes"
Subject: quick report for friday
Date: Friday, 20 February 2009 4:23 PM


first solo run - launched MG 5:45am conditions perfect, not as many birds working as thurs & no hookups while casting at bustups.
headed back in 8'ish - had my first strike just outside the shark nets & nearly fell off in suprise - after a short but powerful battle a new pb was released unharmed to fight again - a small but unhappy turtle foul hooked (they any good for sashimi kev ?)
the trip was rounded off by a dry landing- just

- cheers brian

mac tuna, surf, 19Feb09

From: "kevin long"
Subject: fishing today -- 19Feb09
Date: Thursday, 19 February 2009 4:00 PM

Six starters, five kayaks, the dynamic duo of Steven and Charles being in their Nemo double. Jaro, Jim, Brian, and I were the others.

I got to the carpark first, at around 0515 and immediately walked down to the beach to confirm that the launch would be easy. None of the others had turned up by the time I got back to the Sierra but then first Jaro and then Jim arrived. I was ready to go within 5 minutes and so was first down to the beach with my loaded yak in tow.

0530hrs. Superb launch conditions. The channel next to the rocks can be seen clearly.

So I was away first. I emerged from the channel into the grandeur of a still and smooth Laguna Bay, with ground mist hanging around the taller bits of topography which rim its western and eastern sides. Jaro, then Jim joined me and then shortly after them, the dynamic duo and Brian, who was very happy to have found a much simpler launch than his previous, last week.

I opted to head for the eastern side of Jew Shoal via the NP shark nets where I'd seen the schools of bait fish yesterday. Paddling was easy with a smooth sea and very gentle swell. Most of the SE corner of Laguna Bay was still in the shadow of Noosa Hill and the high ground of the NP. As usual, just after crossing the inner shark net I deployed my trolling outfit. Having passed the shark net off NP carpark (noting that the schools of bait fish were still present from yesterday) I altered course slightly to the north to head for my Jew Shoal mark. No action so far -- only a few terns hanging about and, of course, several dolphins. At about 0600, with the sun now clear of the horizon and no longer masked by the headlands I was headed NE when some dark specks in the sky off to the east caught my attention. On closer inspection I could see that they were feeding terns, dozens of them, wheeling around off Granite Bay and Hell's Gates about 1 km away. Charles and Steven, in their Nemo double were ahead nearby and paddling strongly toward Jew Shoal so I yelled as loudly as I could to them (they have no radio); and when Charles turned to look at me I vigorously pointed to the feeding terns. They immediately changed course, as did I, intent on investigating what was happening out there.

In ten minutes or so I'd covered the distance and could see that over an area of several hundred square metres, numerous "bust-ups" of bait and predators, closely accompanied by hungry terns, were occurring for a couple of minutes at a time. My casting outfit was already set up with a chrome slug, and wire trace, as it always is at this time of year, so I was ready as soon as a "bust-up" occurred within casting distance. The first such event happened a few minutes after I'd paddled into Granite Bay itself, following the progress of several schools of bait which were being hammered by predators. I fired off a cast and immediately hooked up to what was very clearly a fairly small fish. I quickly played him out and was surprised to find that I'd foul-hooked a decent sized dart.

0624hrs. Dart (aka swallowtail -- for obvious reasons). A beautiful, skinny, hard fighting fish -- more frequently caught in the surf than offshore.

It takes an exceptionally large dart to make a meal and the flesh is not high on the taste scale in my humble opinion so I returned it to the water, bearing a small injury from the hook. Realising that most of the "bust-ups" in this sheltered location were probably caused by the feeding activities of dart, I moved off into the deeper more exposed water off the headland, bumped into Bill Watson in his yak out there and stopped for a chat while all around us fish and terns were going about their hectic pursuit of hapless baitfish. As we were chatting, a school of small tuna arrived, leaping out of the water, within casting distance so I fired off a cast and, while retrieving the lure as quickly as I could through their feeding area found myself immediately hooked up. Bill had already caught a couple of mackerel tuna around 2-3kg so I knew that it was likely that I was hooked up to one of these ocean-going speedsters. They are hard fighters for their size but easily beaten as it's usually just a matter of playing them out. So it was with this guy, but not before he'd stripped quite a bit of 12 pound line off the spool of my Shimano threadline reel. I decided to keep this fish as they are quite good as sashimi. The hook was solidly embedded in the corner of the mouth so it took all of my surgical skill, and a very good pair of pliers, to get it out. Into the fish box he went.

By now, Jim, Jaro and Brian had also arrived to try their skills in this free-for-all. There were some very large fish around as we could occasionally see when they cleared the water, but most were average sized mac tuna. While talking to Jim about techniques for catching fish in this situation another school popped up right next to us. My instinctive cast into the school and rapid retrieve immediately produced another hookup.

0652hrs. The second mackerel tuna. Note that the hook is firmly embedded well inside the mouth. Note also, at the bottom of the pic, a recently eaten baitfish, one of several identical specimens which this tuna regurgitated when placed in the yak footwell.

Charles and Steven came over to see me shortly after this event. As they'd caught nothing at this time I offered them this fish, an offer they took up with alacrity. Hope you enjoyed it as sashimi, guys.

After this capture I had no more enthusiasm today for taking more mac tuna. They are hard fighters but most of their flesh is very red and bloody which makes them very ordinary table fare -- as far as I'm aware there is no market for these fish in Queensland despite their abundance in our ocean areas. So I turned away from the feeding frenzy and headed for Jew Shoal in the hope of a sweetlip or snapper. It turned out that my colleagues had similar ideas for shortly I noticed Jim, Jaro and Brian all headed in the same general direction.

Jew Shoal, for me, was dead. I had a beautiful WSW breeze, but a drift, using a soft plastic for bait, over about a kilometre of reef produced not a single hit. Nor did the others report any action, except Jaro who mentioned that his trolled bait had been hit and stripped off the hooks without a solid hookup. That's fishing!

I offered Brian a guided tour of the Granite Bay area. He wasn't getting any action so he agreed and we shortly paddled off to the south where I showed him a couple of places in the Bay which I thought were worth trying in future, conditions permitting of course. We turned toward home and immediately saw flocks of terns wheeling around to the west, in the direction we intended to go anyway. Having informed Jaro and Jim of this by radio we headed for them ourselves and shortly found ourselves amongst feeding fish again. This time, however, the predators were smaller and the feeding not so frenzied and widespread. I opted to just take a bit of video while we drifted awaiting the action to start near us so that we could participate.

Still from video. Terns feeding off Tea Tree Bay

We were joined by Jaro and Jim. All of us tried several times to entice a hookup (I using a soft plastic) but the feeding periods were so brief that we were lucky to get a single cast away before the feeding frenzy stopped. At about this time it became noticeable to me that the swell had increased since we left the beach early this morning. The board riders at Tea Tree were having a great time, quite spectacular from our viewpoint, less than 100m away, and looking along the breaking waves. I began to wonder what our beach return would be like. Shortly we'd find out as we all turned for home.

Having headed straight for Middle Groyne while the others followed the NP coastline, I was first back to our launch place, where our cars were parked. Clearly, the return run through the surf was not going to be as straightforward as we'd hoped as there was now a very fierce little dumping wave at the entrance to our preferred channel. I examined this closely for a couple of minutes and saw that virtually every wave was breaking at the channel entrance, the water being now at least half a metre shallower (because of tide) than earlier, and the swell having apparently increased slightly also. My decision was to not run this course but to run the gauntlet east of the groyne, where at least, if you get rolled, you're not in danger of being hurled onto rocks. My fellow yakkers all adopted the same opinion as to the better landing place.

Brian and I were both ready to run at the same time and we both approached the breaking waves cautiously, from behind, ready to quickly turn back into the wave should a very large breaker unexpectedly appear. A gap appeared and I paddled furiously to try to cover the distance required in the time gap available. I'd managed to pick the gap well and was soon leaping out of the yak onto dry sand, camera in hand to record the performance by Jim and Jaro. Brian, I noted with satisfaction, had also got in cleanly, parallel with me and at the same time, about 20m further west. I was a bit slow off the mark with the camera as Jim was already committed and part way in. Before I could turn the camera on and aim it, he was rolled, frightening two little old ladies in the process who at first hadn't believed his screamed warning "Look out, I can't steer!", and had to take avoiding action to prevent becoming passengers on Jim's (upside-down) yak. I turned the camera on, just in case, and happily Jim opted to do it all again for the edification of Noosa Yakkers. He jumped back on in the small waves breaking in about waist deep water and promptly got rolled again.

Still from video. Jim's extraordinary "jimnastics" in trying to avoid rollover. At this stage he's still seated in the yak which is rolling heavily to starboard.

Jaro's turn. Jaro has done a remarkable job of beach returns in the last few trips. Last week he was the sole "survivor" on this same beach. His run of skilled performances (luck?) ended today with a spectacular dumping. At one stage I was wondering if he was ever going to pop up as the upside-down yak went over the top of him. Here's a still from the video.

Having gone sideways for a second or so, he starts to roll, topside toward beach.

On the beach we attracted the usual curious crowd but our catch was not as spectacular as some trips, my remaining mac tuna being the only fish brought in and thus the sole specimen available for inspection by fascinated beachgoers. Another fun trip and one where we all learned lessons. Next trip, hopefully Saturday, and possibly launching from Sunshine Beach, destination Sunshine Reef.

And I hope to get time to post a video on youtube in the next couple of days...

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

kingfish, 16feb09

From: "kevin long"
Subject: fishing today 16feb09
Date: Monday, 16 February 2009 2:45 PM

Last night's Seabreeze showed a wind drop to almost calm early this morning with an increase in speed later in the day. So I was up at 0430 today rarin' to go as it'd been a whole week since I'd been out. Jaro and his visiting sons Peter and Michael had opted to go also as it was the two boys' only offshore chance before they head back to their respective big cities tomorrow.

On the verandah at home in the pre-dawn darkness I could detect a faint breeze in the fronds of the largest palm tree in our yard so I booted the computer and hastened to Seabreeze to find that the forecast wind speed increase had moved forward during the night and was upon us already. I made up my mind to go have a look anyway as the yak was already loaded and on the roof rack of the Sierra. Jaro, meanwhile had come over to my place to discuss this worrying turn of weather events, especially as he had to manage 2 newbies, his sons, and carry/launch 3 kayaks. I left to check out the Bay, leaving Jaro to sort out his crew.

Launch conditions were ideal but the wind (SE) was already making its presence felt and I opted to launch, but to hug the sheltered waters in the lee of the NP to assess the situation out there, fully expecting that I wouldn't comfortably make it out to JS. What the hell, I need the exercise and any time spent in my yak on the water is good time.

0533. Ready to launch -- in near perfect inshore conditions.

As there was no sign of Jaro and the boys by the time I was ready to launch I opted not to wait, got through the break without getting a drop of water in the yak, quickly set up my gear and headed for the shelter of the NP headlands. Paddling conditions in here were superb, with sufficient breeze to keep me cool but not enough to interfere with my progress. I was trolling one of my battered old favourite hard bodied lures and had my casting outfit ready with a slug in the event that I happened on a school of feeding pelagics.

Shortly the radio interrupted my reverie. "Sunshiner, you in the saddle?" -- an unfamiliar voice. "Yep" I responded, thinking perhaps this was Steve (Turtle Boy), but adding "Who is this?". "Gino, mate" came back the response. He told me that he was already out there somewhere off Hell's Gates and that "It's blowing, mate", info that did not surprise me. We agreed to rendezvous somewhere out there and before long I caught sight of a bone-coloured Hobie just to the north which had to be Gino. Sure enough, it was and shortly afterward we met up. This was the first occasion that I'd encountered Gino on the water (but we have met -- he lives just around the corner from me) and so after a quick "Bon Giorno" from me (just about the limit of my Italian) I took a pic or two of the encounter.

0622hrs. Rendezvous just off Fairy Pools, and still in the lee of the headland. Gino in his Hobie.

Gino had launched near the Noosa Heads Surf Club about 20 minutes or so before I did and I wasn't aware that he intended to come along but it was nice to have some company anyway. And Gino had already coaxed a fish out of the depths -- he'd caught a tiny, but unusual, fish.

Gino's juvenile Black-Banded Amberjack (we think). Released, of course.

Just before we'd met off Fairy Pools, I'd spotted a flock of birds working to our north. So after exchanging morning pleasantries with Gino I opted to paddle toward the action. Gino, quite reasonably, decided not to go out wider and so headed west with the breeze. My excitement built as I neared the wheeling terns. But it was hard going and several times small waves broke over the bow of the yak, at one stage giving me a soaking. But I was close to the action and could see occasional large splashes as fishy predators smashed baitfish from below. Just then, the radio blared again. I stopped paddling to respond to Jaro's call and to appraise him of the situation. He'd decided to launch and he and his sons were on their way toward me, having decided to do exactly as I had, rather than head directly for Jew Shoal. By now I'd drifted away a little from the action, which apparently had died down anyway as the terns were now high up and circling, having probably lost visual contact with their intended prey.

It was about now that I mentally ran through the scenario of hooking a large fish in such conditions. The wind was at least 15 knots, there was a 2m swell and quite a significant chop as the wind had been blowing steadily for several hours and the next land upwind of me was probably the North Island of New Zealand. If I'd hooked a decent fish and it ran east I would have a difficult time following and fighting it. And then there was the boating of such a fish -- could be very tricky. So I opted not to try to pursue the terns/fish as they pushed further upwind and instead selected on the GPS one of my favourite locations at Jew Shoal and turned west and downwind toward it, only 1.4km away. Now I found I was surfing. Even out here, in 20m or m of water, the chop was steep enough for the yak to start to fall down the face of the waves, with the ever present danger of broaching. I chickened out, turned 45 degrees to port and quartered the waves as I paddled gently back toward the shelter offered by the headland, about 500m away.

Soon I was in relatively quiet water and soon also I could see Jaro & Co heading my way. As often happens in this particular piece of water, close to Fairy Pools, a pod of dolphins appeared and began their morning frolic. By radio, I brought this to the attention of Jaro who acknowledged and brought his two sons over for a close look. The dolphins were quite unconcerned by our presence. They must have known we were there because often a dolphin head would appear vertically with eyes completely out of the water, very close to me. I watched them closely for several minutes before deciding to change fishing tactics and work with the wind.

0705hrs. Jaro, closer, dispensing fatherly advice about fishing and yakking to son Michael.

Michael, keeping an eye on the dolphins.

It's always worth trying something new, I think, so I changed my lure to a squid lookalike which I'd recently won in an AKFF fishing comp and opted to troll it drifting with the breeze, casting a slug randomly with my other outfit as I travelled. I didn't hold out much hope for these tactics as there were no signs of surface action in this area and I knew there was no reef below. But at least I was travelling toward home and the trolled lure was working beautifully, changing speed with the yak as it was propelled by the wind and following sea at between 1 and 3kph with no effort necessary from me. Using this method I gently travelled the next km or so, eventually arriving off the Boiling Pot without attracting any attention, or so I thought. I turned to retrieve the squid lure only to feel a dead weight -- "Uh Oh, grinner?" I thought. And so it proved to be.

Blimey what a mouth he's got. Squid lure gets mauled by a grinner. Released.

Anxious to put our visitors Michael and Paul onto fish if possible, despite our inability to get out to our favourite reef, I mentioned to Jaro that I knew a place, sheltered in this particular wind, where yellow-finned pike may sometimes be caught, and usually in large numbers if they're around. While these are small fish, not much bigger than a foot long, they are very acrobatic fighters and are superb bait, if not so good on the plate.

He warmed to this idea and I briefly outlined the marine topography to him as we were on the edge of the area in question. That covered, I left it up to him to brief the boys on the tactics and lure change necessary (switch to soft plastics) while I paddled to a spot about 150m from Jaro's position, where I judged there might be a chance of catching pike. I'd quickly switched to a 1/4oz jighead (for maximum casting distance) garnished with a 4 inch soft plastic. In this particular area which is only 3 metres deep or so and has patches of reef visibly studded into the sandy bottom it is necessary to try to get the soft plastic to emulate a small fish swimming erratically about 2 metres down. So a long cast, 2-3 second wait, and then spasmodic retrieve is an appropriate technique. After several casts I'd had no takes so was fairly sure there were no pike just there -- I was right and about to find out why they were absent.

My next retrieve was interrupted quite gently and, fully expecting that this was a pike, I applied gentle pressure to set the hook and began to retrieve my catch. At first there was little reaction, it came toward me. Then a sudden surge away with consequent scream of the drag told me that this was no pike. A very large flathead, perhaps, I thought, as I knew they frequent this area. Then a head bumping steady and strong run, reminiscent of a snapper. Couldn't be a snapper, could it? Not in 3m of clear water in broad daylight! Then another hard run, with the reel giving more of the 12 pound line against the drag. I know, it's a small cobia, I remember thinking -- I hope it's not a metre long, not on this tackle -- I'll be here for a couple of hours trying to beat it. While still fighting the fish (rod in right hand, radio in left) I called Jaro to let him know I'd hooked something interesting, and definitely not a pike. Still I hadn't seen the fish. I could have applied more pressure but was reluctant to do so because there was a chance that I'd hooked a sharp toothed critter (tailor, or mackerel) and I didn't want to apply enough pressure so that the line was cut by the teeth. As a preference, I fish soft plastics without a wire trace and was doing so on this occasion. After three or four minutes of to and fro I could feel that the fish was tiring and a minute or so later I spotted him 2 metres below me -- a yellowtail kingfish, renowned hard fighter and very worthy opponent. Very good to eat fresh and at this size also. And I hadn't even considered it as an option!

And a short while later he was safely on the gaff.

0812hrs. Yellowtail kingfish.

After this I was hopeful that our visitors would also take fish, for wherever there is one yellowtail king, there are certainly others. But it was not to be, although Michael had a couple of takes which failed to hook up properly and which probably were 'kingies' as they are commonly called. We all tried for a bit longer and the only other thing of interest (Brian, I hope you're still with us at this stage) was that twice I had squid follow my jig to the yak -- never seen that before in Noosa. Perhaps we've found a squid catching area.

And so we headed back to the launch point, a short paddle and a ridiculously easy surf transit away, where we were met by Gino who'd recovered his yak earlier but had no more fish to report.

The kingie on the measure mat. 66cm. Note that the Queensland legal length of these changes from 50cm (presently) to 60cm on 01Mar09.

Weather's looking great for Wednesday to Saturday. The bait schools are out there today but we couldn't get out to them. Let's hope we get a chance later in the week.


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

smashed, with video, 09Feb09

From: "kevin long"
Subject: kayak fishing today -- 09Feb09
Date: Monday, 9 February 2009 3:33 PM

Emails from Jaro and me over several days had warned the Noosa yakking fraternity several days ahead that the offshore fishing weather was looking good for today. After two weeks of strong easterly wind and big swells we were badly overdue for a break. Just to make sure that I was as fully aware as possible of the likely wave situation I spent and hour or so on Main Beach yesterday afternoon and saw nothing that gave me cause for lasting concern.

The starting lineup was (oldest first) Jaro, me, Jim, Steve, Andy, Brian (madcow). Jim and Steve opted to turn up a little later but the rest of us met in the MG carpark just as first light was seeping through the haze to the east. I arrived at 0445 to find that Andy and Brian were already setting up and rapidly becoming acquainted at this there first meeting. Jaro turned up shortly afterward as did Paul, from Palmwoods, a very keen regular yak fisho but not yet one of our group.

We wandered the 50 or so metres down to the beach to inspect the situation, fully aware that there was a decent swell as we could hear the crump of the waves from the carpark. The group opinion was that it was doable with care, but only on the eastern side as the channel on the western side, normally our preferred launch spot, was blocked frequently at its northern exit by crashing waves whose approach would be obscured from a paddler's view by the wall of rocks which makes up the groyne.

Without further ado we hurried back to the cars to get our gear ready. By the time I 'd dragged my yak down to the edge of the surf, Paul had already launched, watched in fascination by Andy and Brian, the latter of whom was facing his first surf beach launch. Paul, predictably, got very wet on the way out and was lucky, I think, not to get clobbered by a big stand-up wave which he breasted just before it broke. So we four assembled, did a last-second check of our on-board security and prepared to do battle.

0520hrs. Jaro (left) and Andy get ready to boogie (They love to boogie!). That curling wave they're fixated on is just at the crucial breaking point for a yakker.

In the couple of seconds it took me to put away the camera after the above pic, a clear launch opportunity had arisen and all four of us sensed it. So, line abreast, we scrambled aboard our yaks and charged at the fleeting gap in the sets which had appeared. I went through first followed by Jaro, and then Andy. A bit concerned for Brian, I paused, as soon as I knew I was safely through, to turn and watch Brian's progress. He was on the wrong side of a large wave and disappeared from my view momentarily as the distance between him and the wave shortened. I knew it was going to be close, either the wave would break right on top of him, rolling him end over end, or he'd just scrape through. The bow of his yak punching clear of the top of the wave showed that he'd managed the latter. His straw hat, chin strap still secure, was looking a bit third hand (it looked second hand before the launch), with a hole appearing on the right side and the brim drooping so much from the weight of the water it had absorbed that I doubted he could see properly. For a first surf launch it was a classic!

It's a completely different environment just 20 metres outside the break on the ocean side -- gentle rolling swells and smooth, friendly waters. We paddled out until we were well and truly distant from the breakers and then got on with our setting-up chores.

The trip out to the shoal was easy and uneventful, with no feeding birds or fish being apparent, just the odd dolphin popping out now and again. The breeze at the shoal was from the west and promised a gentle downwind drift which I started by heading initially for the western side.

I decided to try for a snapper or sweetlip while all the time keeping an eye open for opportunities to tackle pelagics should they suddenly show up, as they can at this time of year. But it was not until my second drift at about 0730 that I registered my first bump on my soft plastic bait. My strike to set the hook was answered by a strong run for the bottom, typical of a sweetlip. A short but dogged struggle ensued before I'd safely boated a very nice 42cm long sweetlip.

0739hrs. A grass sweetlip (delicious on the plate) falls victim to a 4 inch soft plastic.

As I fought the fish, Brian came over and I afterward took the opportunity to take his pic on his first trip out to Jew Shoal.

Brian Templeton, aka madcow and later whalebait, mounted on his Heritage Redfin 12, at Jew Shoal, Noosa.

The action after this was non-existent with no one reporting anything of significance and by 0930 we'd all left to head home to do battle with the monster on the beach. And what a monster it was -- obviously totally pissed off that it didn't get anyone earlier. Somehow, we'd lost Andy in the time we'd been out but we figured that he'd probably gone back to the beach (he has no radio so can't tell us), but the five of us remaining returned to Middle Groyne at about the same time. Jim, possibly keen to break his other collar bone, attacked first. But his defeat, only rolled, no real damage done, did not appease the monster. The monster wanted MORE! So we sent in Brian. Just before he left to run the gauntlet I recall telling him "You'll probably get rolled." It's not often my predictions are accurate. Somehow Brian survived, but he was still picking up flotsam from the wreck on the beach 15 minutes later! I'd seen Brian get clobbered and rolled and thought: "The monster must be appeased by now, surely." So I did my run immediately after the unfortunate Brian. I was going OK, too and just on the edge of picking up a wave when the monster jumped up and pushed me sideways so savagely that my countermeasures (screaming for my long-dead mother) failed dismally. Arse-up I went, too, to the delight of a bikini-clad lady whose Noosa holiday was unexpectedly offering such excitement. Dragging my yak and carcass up out of the surf zone, I grabbed the camera, for Steve and Jaro, I knew, were still to come through. Too late. Steve, also bedraggled, was stumbling along the beach mumbling something along the lines of "...I was going OK, too, until that last big one hit...".

Having recovered my composure, and some more of Brian's bits and pieces which were momentarily popping up in the surge, I looked out to sea and could discern out the back Jaro and Paul, the latter of whom we hadn't seen much of since he'd left the beach at the same time as we did this morning. Intent on capturing on video the disaster certain to stalk these two as they returned to the beach I strode off into the waves, after borrowing the afore-mentioned lady's cloth hat to remove moisture from the lens cover (I had no dry cloth anywhere). Paul came in first and did a very fine job of thwarting the monster. I got a pretty good video of it, even though I almost got impaled on the bow of his Prowler in the process. Here are a couple of stills from the video:

Note that the cockpit is full of water and that Paul's leaning on the paddle on the ocean side while going sideways. Note also that his rods are secured horizontally along the main axis of the yak, a precaution when rollover seems likely.

Jaro came in just a couple of minutes after Paul. Clearly, the monster had been appeased by gobbling up the first four yakkers, as Jaro came in beautifully, picking the quietest set of waves that any of us on the beach had seen that morning. I got some video of that, too, and here are a couple of interesting stills from it:

Above, the monster tries to bite off the bow of Jaro's Prowler. Looks like a ballet move, doesn't it?

Jaro demonstrating fine balance.

And here’s the brief video. Hang on to your seats.

Once Paul got onto the beach he showed us his catch which I placed on the measure mat, already out to verify the size of my sweetie (my fish).

Above, my sweetlip.

Above, yellowtail kingfish. Legal size limit from 01Mar09, 60cm, presently 50cm.
Below, spotted mackerel.

And lastly, a pic of the yaks and some yakkers on the beach afterward.

Taking stock.

Let's go again soon, after the swell has dropped.

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