madcow's first spotty, 20Mar09

From: "madcowes"
Subject: belated report from friday 20Mar
Date: Saturday, 21 March 2009 9:34 AM

Launched MG 5:30 ish with steven & charles & brian (parapaddler). Headed over to north shore, conditions choppy w/- 10-15 knts and a bit of swell. Lots of birds but hard to get a cast as they were moving around pretty quickly.

Had a huge hit on my trolling rod which actually sprung the rod from the rod holder (sticky drag - job for the weekend!) Thank god for rod leashes. Fish had gone by the time I recovered my rod.

10 minutes later my red & white "Mad Mullet" had a reasonable hit & I managed to boat my first spotty mac, not huge but my first. Paddled over to NP and back to MG without any further interruptions.

For those of us not jaunting of OS lets see what the weather gods have in store for us next week.

P.S Kev & crew maybe you could bring some sand back from egypt for main beach.

cheers madcow

tuna blast, vid, 19Mar09

From: "kevin long"
Subject: Fishing 19Mar09 -- afternoon session
Date: Friday, 20 March 2009 10:02 AM

Sorry guys, another longtail story....

Yesterday morning I went out for a quick trip into Laguna Bay before brekky, promising to be home around 9am, which I was. While I caught nothing significant on that trip, I'd seen heaps of tuna rampaging around in the Bay and was keen to have a last crack at them before departing for three weeks, next Monday, for less-fishy places.

The Seabreeze wind forecast for the afternoon being reasonable, I spread the word by email to my regular fishing mates that I intended to have a crack at the tuna and whatever else came along, after lunch. Jaro, of course, agreed to be in it, as did Steven and Charles.

Before heading out I refurbished a couple of lures with new hooks -- some of them were looking a bit battle scarred.

Jaro was out in the Bay before me. I spotted his car in the carpark and as soon as I was ready I called him on the VHF to find out the latest intelligence. He responded promptly, and somewhat excitedly, saying he'd already lost a couple of slugs, that there were birds and fish milling all around him. On asking where he was, he responded that he was straight out from Middle Groyne, which view was obscured for me because the Lifeguard tower was in the way. I moved sideways to get a better view and sure enough, there was a little yellow dot (Jaro's Prowler) surrounded by a wheeling flock of terns, about 1 km out from the beach.

A few minutes later I was paddling toward him, trolling a 10cm hard bodied lure (gold and red), with my casting outfit set up with a slug sitting in the rod holder, ready for instant use once I got to the action. Two hundred metres from Jaro and about 800m from the beach the little hard bodied lure was clobbered. My ancient ABU 10000C let out a howl like a banshee on the fastest and longest run I'd experienced in quite a while. I knew immediately that this was no mediocre fish.

The battle was long and tough, in about 10m of fairly smooth water, ruffled by a 10knot breeze, in the shelter of Noosa Headland. After about 20 minutes I prevailed and I stuck the gaff into the largest longtail tuna I've taken for quite a while.

1326hrs. Just-boated longtail tuna. 

Close up of the lure in its mouth; the tail hook was brand new and good quality, which is more than I can say for the front hook.

By this time, Jaro had already boated a mac tuna but released it. I tail-roped and stowed my tuna and spent the next couple of hours chasing after tuna schools, making still pics and videos, getting soaked to the skin, hooking and releasing tuna, getting busted and generally having a ball. I'll let Jaro tell his side of the story, but here are a few pics to give you some idea of the conditions and situation.

1424hrs. Jaro dealing with some housework as the wind picks up with the approach of a SE squall.

1427hrs. I stopped on the edge of a school of feeding mac tuna, and while I videoed it, it gradually surrounded me. The 3 pics above are stills from the 1 minute video.

1442hrs. At the height of the squall, rain bucketing down and wind at about 15-20knots, I used the video camera. The above is a still from the video.

1608hrs. Back on the beach, my tuna went 92cm.

Jaro took this pic on our rain-soaked beach. Thanks, mate.

Video of the weather and the tuna action

Jaro is getting some of the flesh from the tuna, but there's quite a bit left over (in the fridge right now). Noosa yakkers are welcome to have some. Just give me a call sometime in the next 24 hours or so -- it's better eaten fresh, but will freeze OK.

Off to Egypt for three weeks from Monday, with Jaro and Jim and some other friends, including our wives. I look forward to reading of your exploits yakkers and hope to be back in the action after Easter. Take care out there.

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

morning spotty, 19Mar09

From: "kevin long"
Subject: spotty macs in the bay
Date: Thursday, 19 March 2009 10:52 AM

Hi yakkers

I was kicking myself for not going out yesterday early -- put off by pouring rain so decided to get out this morning.

Found perfect launch conditions:

0608hrs. 10knot SE breeze, flat sea.

My intention was to work over the area inshore of the Nat Park shark net, using soft plastics. But the sight of birds working to the north changed my mind and I headed over toward them -- not trolling, but I had a casting outfit rigged up with a slug.

I could see another yakker out there and recognized the little yak which was fishing near us when we nailed the longtails on 13Feb. We both converged on the flock of wheeling terns when I saw the other guy, who was trolling, stop paddling and start cranking his reel, the rod tip bent. As this was my opportunity to say hello, find out what he'd caught and possibly take a pic, I paddled straight toward him and got there just as he gaffed the fish -- which I expected to be a mac tuna. He agreed to be photographed then held up a nice spotty mac saying "What sort is this?" in a north American accent.

0628hrs. John, an escapee from Hawaii, who now lives in Kin Kin, and his first spotty mac. Yak is a Mission Flow - very small.

John's total equipment list seems to be a rod & reel, a couple of lures, a gaff, and a paddle. Having taken the pic, and the birds and fish school having by now dispersed, I opted to go back to Plan A, as I was quite close to the shark nets I was intending to work anyway. Once I got there I re-rigged for soft plastics, had a couple of casts and saw that the birds were working again. Plan B looked better -- so I switched again and re-rigged once more and headed off trollling a lure with a slug ready for casting.

My best efforts to nail a spotty mac failed. But there were scattered bustups all over the place, all within 1 km of MG. There were plenty of what looked like longtail tuna about 4-5kg leaping clear of the water, with that bronze sheen characteristic of the species. But I got very few opportunities to get a cast away. The only fish I got was a Watson's leaping bonito, one of a large school hammering bait near the Boiling Pot.

0751hrs. Watson's leaping bonito, taken on a cast slug. Released.

I'd promised Mary that I'd be home for brekky so gave it away shortly after this and before long I was on the verandah having coffee with the catch of my life.

Seabreeze is showing a drop in the breeze this arvo so I think I'll go again, after lunch, when Mary's at her art class. Any other starters?

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

quiet day for six, 15Mar09

From: "kevin long"
Subject: fishing today -- 15mar09
Date: Monday, 16 March 2009 4:38 PM

andypaddles, madcow, parapaddler, harry, Jaro and I fronted this morning to find ideal conditions.

The launching options at Middle Groyne have been somewhat restricted thanks to Cyclone Hamish, whose swell effects removed so much sand from the eastern side that yak access on that side would be difficult to say the least -- we'd need our climbing gear to get down the bare rock face which is exposed more than I can remember as a result of sand removal. No rude comments about old blokes' memories please.

Fortunately the western side of the groyne offered an ideal launch situation, the channel adjacent to the wall being now deeper than it formerly was and offering a safe, if narrow passage to the open bay which today was troubled by only a gentle swell.

Dead on 0545. Noosa yakkers depart Middle Groyne. madcow and andypaddles are already out the back; harry (blue shirt) is in the trough between two waves and parapaddler (first time launch at MG) is halfway along the wall. Jaro and I wait our turn. The low light levels forced a low shutter speed which, because everything in the pic is moving and because the camera was held in a shaking hand, led to a slightly blurred pic. Sorry about that - I'll try to do better in future.

Once we were all safely out the back I took a pic of the scene which faced us, using parapaddler as a centrepiece.

0553. In the foreground, parapaddler in his beautifully set up Viking Profish. Background: Jaro and the majesty of a daybreak on Laguna Bay.

As soon as individual yakkers were ready to go, they left, most heading toward the NE where I'd noticed that terns, forsaking their overnight roosts in the Noosa River were heading. I followed, last, and headed toward one of my marks on a small reef which was very close to the line of the other yaks. Before long we could see terns bunching and wheeling and diving on the near horizon, a sure sign that predators had moved in and were already breakfasting on the hapless sprats. The predators we encountered, however were in small groups and they were attacking small bait schools so the action at each encounter between predator and prey was brief and brutal -- too brief for us, because in most cases we arrived at the scene just as the predators were moving on to the next feast, several hundred metres distant. So after spending quite some time unsuccessfully trying to manoeuvre into position to cast a lure into the feeding frenzies, most of us had moved out to or toward Jew Shoal.

Things were quiet out there on the depths of the reef, fishing with bait or soft plastic, but all around, from time to time, small groups of breakfasting tuna found their bacon and eggs right on the surface. On many occasions over the next hour or so the mostly small tuna charged past us just too far away and too quickly to allow a cast. Understandably we soon started to look toward greener pastures and the space between Jew Shoal and the headland beckoned, and by around 0830 most of us were drifting or paddling around that space focussed on trying to catch a tuna which were clearly present. A small one would do, but there were some larger fish which could be seen clearing the water completely at the end of their characteristic swift attacks from directly below the bait (see pic below).

Great pic by Steven D'Emden, taken on our previous trip 06Mar09. A fat longtail tuna can be quite clearly seen about to re-enter the water after such an attack.

We were ready to cast at a moment's notice. Jaro drifted past me and offered the opportunity to demonstrate the state of readiness.

0849. Jaro the hunter...

One of the great things about yak fishing is the ability to paddle over and have a chat with a fellow yakker. madcow dropped in for a chat...

0912hrs. madcow, wearing a hat to die for, told me about the tuna he hooked and then lost, all in the space of a few seconds.

After paddling over a km back to one of my new-found reefs I heard Jaro come up on the radio that he was in the midst of hundreds of feeding terns and tuna and had just boated and released a small mac tuna. I was still fishless so I re-rigged once more and paddled the 1.3km back out to where Jaro was drifting, in company with parapaddler. Of course, by the time I got there, the terns and the tuna had gone. Jaro had no explanation for this. So we drifted a while in the spot they were last seen, about 700m north of Hells Gates, enjoying the ambience and luxuriating in the lack of deadlines or other pressures out here on the water. All we definitely had to do today was paddle ourselves the 4km or so back to where our cars were parked.

As we were chatting parapaddler came up to us and announced that he'd just lost a tuna -- the first he'd ever hooked on a cast lure. He wasn't at all disappointed but was clearly on a high as the first such strike and fast run has to be experienced to be understood. I commiserated with him and, as I hadn't seen him since we'd left the beach and he has no radio (yet), enquired whether he'd had any other action. To my surprise he announced he'd got a nice little snapper out at JS on a soft plastic. When I asked to see it he clambered forward on the Profish, straddling the hull, lifted the bow cover extracted and held up the first snapper I'd seen this year.

1013hrs. parapaddler (aka Brian), Scotsman, ex Royal Marine and professional paramedic, with future family meal. Welcome aboard, Brian.

The time had come to wend our way homeward. Remember, we had about 4km to paddle. Jaro and I travelled side by side, intent on taking any casting opportunities that arose. And shortly one did. Right in front of us a school of small living torpedoes collided deliberately with a school of baitfish. We could see that the torpedoes (mac tuna) were quite small, no more than a kilo in weight, probably, but I was fishless so what could I do? I fired off a cast and retrieved rapidly and was rewarded with a surface strike and hookup. These little mac tuna are bundles of energy, punching way above their weight and very exciting to catch on light tackle. This one came to the yak after a few spirited runs against the drag.

Jaro took this pic just before I lifted the tiny tuna from the water using the wire trace. As I did so, intending to release it anyway, the hook pulled free.

Our return to the beach was uneventful, and I finished off by stripping to my bathers and jumping in for a swim -- having discovered from my GPS that I'd paddled 17.5km I thought I deserved a refreshing dip. We were the last to return of the group which had left earlier. Andypaddles very kindly left us some organically-grown limes and lemons which he'd brought with him from Cooroy. Thanks mate, I can assure you they were well received and will be used on fish meals. Jaro, Brian and I divided them up.

If any of the others have anything interesting to add please feel free to do so. Thanks all for coming along.

The weather's so good I think I might go again tomorrow -- but using different tactics. Anyone else up for it?

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

heaps of longtails, vid, 06Mar09

From: "kevin long"
Subject: fishing today -- Friday 06Mar09 -- pretty bloody good
Date: Friday, 6 March 2009 3:50 PM

Not only were we honoured today with the return of Dirty Harry from down south, but we also scored a perfect day on the water -- and some great fish.

The planned line up was Jaro, Jim, Harry, the dynamic duo (Steven and Charles), and me. I was the first to arrive in the car park, with the Sierra's headlights still on as I parked, at around 0515. A quick squizz at the beach conditions confirmed that it was perfect -- very light southerly breeze, slightly cloudy sky, very small swell. Yahoo!

One by one the others arrived -- and Paul, from Palmwoods, also turned up with his Prowler on top of his battered 4WD. Soon we had the full complement and we hit the water as quickly as we could. It looked like being a fabulous day!

While rigging up "out the back" in the steadily improving visibility, I briefly caught sight of a flock of birds wheeling around about a km off to the NW. This info was relayed to all by radio or voice and before long six kayaks with their seven occupants were heading in that direction. The going was wonderfully easy with nary a splash of salt water coming aboard as we travelled purposefully, most of us trolling a hard bodied lure, toward the scene of bird activity. The setting was glorious and, finding myself paddling alongside Paul, I took this pic of him which will help describe the conditions.

0618hrs. Paul in silhouette, Noosa Head in the distant background. If you look carefully at the brightly lit part of the sky you'll see dots which are terns flying around. These were the reason we were in that part of Laguna Bay.

Individual yakkers peeled off from the group to do their own thing as we entered the realm of the feeding birds and their helpers, feeding underwater predators, which made their presence obvious by violent splashes and upsurges in the water around the helpless schools of baitfish.

Before long I found myself paddling alongside Jim who was complaining that it had been quite a while since he'd caught a decent fish and he hoped today would see that change. Barely were the words out of his mouth than the ratchet of his trolling outfit, an ancient but reliable Daiwa overhead reel on a basic boat rod, growled briefly and loudly enough for even me, partly deaf, to hear it. Jim stopped paddling, picked up the rod and away the ratchet went again, but this time the growling noise didn't stop. Jim leant back to put some weight against the fast swimming fish and quite quickly his yak did an about-face and became a floating trailer behind the fish which had engulfed his lure.

This was an ideal situation for me to capture a movie record of some decent catch action so I immediately decided to stop fishing and follow Jim with the camera. In the short time it took me to retrieve my own trolled lure, Jim had been towed 40 or 50m away and I found myself chasing after his yak which was travelling at 2-3kph without any effort on his part. As soon as I'd closed the gap, I whipped out the camera, powered it up, changed to video mode, zoomed in and pressed the shutter button.

0633hrs, about 3 minutes after Jim hooked up, he's being towed toward the east. Note birds and tuna feeding in disturbed water in background. (Still from movie)

So off Jim went, while I tried to keep pace while shooting video, then putting down the camera, paddling close to him then shooting again. This situation would have benefited from a pedal kayak, obviously, or someone with three arms. But after about 5 minutes the fish opted to start circling and made things a little easier on me, and Jim, who was clearly gaining the upper hand. At this stage I called it for a longtail tuna, or possibly a cobia, as it was way too powerful for the more common mackerel tuna, which were presumably in profusion around us. Eight minutes passed before the fish came alongside and could be clearly identified as a longtail tuna -- a beautiful specimen, to boot. Jim expertly and tidily gaffed the fish, dragged it over the gunwhale into the footwell and let out a whoop of triumph. In response to my prompting he then held it up for the camera.

Around 0640hrs. Jim's beautiful longtail tuna. (Still from video)

I intend to make a movie of the clips and post it on youtube later once editing is complete. Done. Link to the video is at the end of this post.

My duties as cameraman over, I returned to the fishing. There were fish bustups scattered all over the place and hundreds of terns wheeling around looking for the next best food outlet. Usually the surest way of getting a fish in such circumstances is to approach a bust up and while still 20-30m away, cast an appropriate lure, usually a metal "slug" into the melee and then retrieve quickly. I was trolling while travelling and manoeuvring into position to do just this but the opportunities for casting were being presented far too briefly. The further we travelled to the NW the more prolific it seemed the action was and before long I found myself pretty close to Little Hall's Reef, about 3.5km from our launch point. Jim, having already had considerable success, had opted to try for a reef fish at Little Hall's and I could see him there, about 500m away, and decided to join him, as did Harry, who had joined me at this stage, instead of trying to score a pelagic fish from the scarce opportunities coming our way from time to time.

We'd just arrived at Hall's Reef when the radio blared. Jaro, somewhere down near the river mouth, a couple of km to the south, had hooked up. Then shortly afterward the news that the fish had escaped. Harry, Jim and I relaxed and drifted gently over the 15m-deep reef, trying to attract a sweetlip to our soft plastic baits. All we could get, however, were small flathead of the bar-tailed variety. Meanwhile, dolphins surfaced frequently nearby -- clearly there was some serious feeding going on under water. And then the radio blared again - Jaro announcing another hookup and that it was a "biggy". After about ten minutes of no action at our location I radioed Jaro to check on his progress with his fish. The news that he was still fighting it conveyed the information that he had indeed hooked a decent fish and we began to wonder whether we should return to Jaro's location. Then Jaro announced that he had the fish secured in the yak and that it was a beautiful bluefin tuna (aka longtail tuna) and that he was surrounded by hundreds of birds and that the tuna were continuing their frantic feeding activity all around him. The excitement in his voice was understandable and persuaded Harry, Jim and me, all of whom could hear Jaro's radio reports, to decide to join him. Harry and I were fishless at this stage. So we changed rigs and turned toward the south. Jaro took a pic of his conquered fish.

Jaro's first longtail tuna for 2009, securely roped to the yak.

As we travelled south I could see that there were clumps of birds wheeling about close in to the north shore beach so peeled off to the right intending to get a closer look, and hopefully get a cast in to possibly nail a longtail myself. Harry and Jim continued on their original course. The action near the beach, I observed was continuous and vigorous. But again getting a cast away was difficult because the feeding schools were moving so quickly and erratically. I did get a couple of casts in, however, which I thought were certain to get hookups but didn't. Why, I have no idea. Shortly Harry and then Jaro joined me, having worked their way back north because the flocks of feeding terns appeared larger and more dense up this way. Harry and I converged on a bust up from different sides, only 100m or so apart, I fired off a quick cast, retrieved it flat out and was rewarded with the thump of a surface strike. I was fishing with my casting outfit, equipped with a 4000-sized Shimano threadline reel and 12 pound breaking strain monofilament and expected that the fish I'd just hooked would put up a good fight but it would be all over pretty quickly, as I'd seen several of the fish in the school and estimated them at 3-4kg at most. In other words, I didn't expect a long tussle. The first run from this fish started my doubts going. It just went on and on, with the yak being towed, just like Jim's was, at a good speed with the line pouring off the spool against the loud buzzing of the drag clicker. I made a feeble attempt to take some more video here and the recorded file shows that it was saved at 0850, probably a couple of minutes after I'd hooked up. I knew I was in for a long fight after about five minutes when line was still being taken from the spool and I was being towed further and further from home. Many times during that tussle I was tempted to increase the drag, but past experience had taught me that the whole system was probably running at 80% of its capacity and so tightening of the drag would probably cause the lure to pull free or a vital knot to break. I had time, the fish was unlikely to reef me (tuna don't do that) and conditions for paddling home again were perfect. So I sat back and played the fish carefully, fighting him with the rod, not the reel, getting line back onto the spool when I could and generally biding my time and savouring the challenge.

At around 0910, around 22 minutes after hookup, I got my first look at the fish, circling deep under the yak. I confirmed the species, longtail tuna, turned the camera on and took a couple of one-handed underwater pics looking straight down from the yak. One of these shots captured an image of the fish as it circled below.

0911hrs. My fish, deep under the yak, sweeps past.

I've caught a few longtails and believe this circling behaviour indicates the beginning of the end of the fight as the fish tires. Still, it's no time to throw caution to the wind. I retained my drag setting and commenced a slow steady pump and wind routine to apply pressure to the fish, knowing that this is the time when many good fish are lost. It's better to take it easy and work steadily than to crank up the pressure, because such fish as these can call on a reserve of energy which can easily break tackle, especially after a long fight. A few minutes later and my fish was on the surface, pretty much the end of the end. It circled the yak once or twice and presented itself for a neat head shot with the gaff on the left side. I'm getting better with left hand gaff shots and this one went neatly into the head and the prize was mine after a 30 minute fight. After tail roping the fish I took a pic...

0920hrs, pic taken by holding the camera behind and above my left shoulder, the only way I could get the whole fish in.

So now Jim, Jaro and I all had very similar longtail tuna. I certainly had no desire to try to catch another and was happy to just coast along in the pleasant company of Harry and Jaro (Jim had opted to go home to deal with his fish). Harry was philosophical about having missed out today but that's fishing.

We paddled the 3km or so back to the beach, half-heartedly exploring fishing opportunities as they presented themselves along our path. Yep, the bust ups were still happening, but apparently only in the western part of the Bay, where we had fished.

The usual lie detector pics on the beach...

Above, Jaro's fish, 82cm

Above, my fish. 87cm of fighting longtail tuna.

Above, my fish on the back deck of my Espri.

Video of Jim's capture:

Another brilliant day in Laguna Bay. What's next, marlin? I didn't hear how Steven and Charles went so would appreciate an update from you, guys.

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

Jaro solo on 03Mar09

From: "Jaro Cerny"
Subject: Fishing Report 03/03/09
Date: Wednesday, 4 March 2009 3:55 PM

Hello Yakkers,

I was the only yakker to front up at 5.45am at MG on a warm, partly cloudy, calm day. The conditions were as good as one could hope for and so I headed out with great enthusiasm and optimism for a successful day. Getting out at 6.00am was a breeze and once out I was confronted with seeing thousands of birds... and this is not an exaggeration. They virtually covered the entire Laguna Bay. All were diving and feeding on baitfish that also virtually covered the entire bay. The baitfish were clearly visible around and under my kayak. However!!!! there was no sign of any pelagics feeding on them. I cast my spinner many times in all different locations to no avail. Bugger!!! how frustrating, probably the pelagics were over engorged and gone home.

So, disillusioned, at 7.00am I decided to go and paddle out to JS trolling along the way. By the time I was 1 km away no birds were visible. Once at JS I drifted and using pilchards on a gang hook I had instant success, a 30cm sweetlip which I released. I kept getting bites and then landed a wire netting cod (pictured)

Could not rotate the picture (help Kevin). Anyway a good example of a wire netting cod

It was not long before I had exhausted my supply of pilchards and decided to head home via the National Park at 8.30 am. As I neared the coastline, I noticed bird activity and headed that way. Much to my delight there was now some fish activity and soon cast my spinner into the activity and had an immediate strike. It put up a great fight and it took me 5 to 10 minutes to land, disappointingly, a Mac Tuna (pictured). I had thought it may have been a mackerel. Anyway I kept it and gutted it then and there.

The Mac Tuna.... note I had just started to gut it before I decided to take a pic first

I then proceeded to continue spinning into various masses of fish hoping for a mackerel but to no avail. I caught 5 more Mac Tunas but released them all. Still it was great fun catching them.

I then headed for home again and came across another swirling mass. The trusty spinner was again successful catching 2 small bonitos? (one pictured) and both being released.

A bonito (Editor: Watsons leaping bonito)

With that I pulled up stumps and had a easy ride in.
Total caught 6 Mac Tunas, 2 Bonitos, 1 Sweetlip & 1 Wire netting Cod = 10 fish.

A fun morning in wonderful conditions... the only improvement would have been better eating fish.



Chaos at DB, vid, 03Mar09

From: "kevin long"
Subject: fishing.. er surfing, today 03mar09 -- crocs, too
Date: Tuesday, 3 March 2009 3:17 PM

We had company this morning. Three young guys, not from Noosa, hearing of our exploits, had asked to go along with us. I told them to be at the doggy beach car park at 0530, where Jim and I had agreed to meet to check out the conditions before deciding whether to launch at the east-facing Sunshine Beach.

I got to the car park at 0520 to be met by two eager beavers, Paul and Lee, whom I'd met before, and was told that the third guy, Jason, was already down at the beach in "ready to go" mode. I wandered down in the half light noting that waves were breaking on the outer bank, but assessed it as doable, meeting Jason while down there.

Jim arrived at the car park just as I returned to it to unload and accepted the verdict of "go" and immediately started to unpack.

So five of us faced the water in the dawn light, three youngbloods, one of whom was sporting a plaster cast on his left wrist, Jim and I.

Young Jason, in his Prowler, was first away. I watched him make his way out steadily and watched him get clobbered by a breaker on the outer bank. His yak was upside down but he had his PFD on and was well prepared, for he righted the yak, jumped back on and paddled off into clear water to muted cheers from the rest of us, who still had to face the music.

Paul and Lee, in Hobies, set off next and were making good progress when I launched, just before Jim. Picking the sets was very difficult -- it was more a matter of working your way through the shore break, and then, once in the deeper water, timing a run through the swells as they arrived (and usually broke) on the outer bank, about 50 metres out. I'd boarded cleanly and was steadily making my way through the maelstrom, being washed back again, then working forward again. It was on about my second wash-back to the beach, still upright, still paddling, that Jim joined me and together we worked our way out. Third time lucky -- I was through the the shore section as was Jim, and we both lined up on this enormous breaker (well, they do seem enormous from water level) which was rapidly getting closer and closer to the breaking point. We both climbed the face at the last possible instant, I reckon, and I clearly recall the surge of relief when the bow of the yak plunged cleanly down into the trough as the wave broke with a roar behind me. Too easy!

The flotilla of five yaks assembled "out the back", the necessary preparations were completed, and we paddled off directly toward the sun which had just cleared the horizon. It was only 1.3km to my mark on Sunshine Reef -- we'd drifted about 300m closer to it with the gentle off-shore breeze.

Less than 15 minutes later we were there. Jim immediately discovered that his deep-trolled pilchard line had a paying customer and he cranked it in with little ceremony -- as it wasn't a hard fighting specimen, but an unusual one for us...

0620hrs. Venus tusk fish, about 40cm (?) long, min length 30cm, bag limit 6 of all species (of wrasse). Very highly regarded as a table fish. Sunshine Beach in background.

There are no further pics of this fish because it contrived successfully to leap back over the side after the hooks were removed.

The reef here is at about 22-27m depth. I opted to fish with a soft plastic on my casting outfit and later deployed a squid lure on my trolling rod, with a ball sinker in front of it to get it down to about 20m. Neither Jim nor I got any further action although we were fishing in the same area where three of us bagged nine snapper three months earlier (the previous time we were there).

By about 0830 I'd had enough -- aside from a single hit on the squid which tore its soft plastic face off but missed the hook, I hadn't had a touch. Jim and I agreed by radio that we'd go in and "have a surf". By shortly after 0900 we were both "out the back" gazing with trepidation at the waves which seemed, unaccountably, to be bigger than we remembered them from just over three hours earlier.

We secured our gear, as normal for a beach re-entry, even if there was no big surf, and started manoeuvring to pick a gap. During this time I shot a few seconds of video while the waves rolled us around, then packed the camera away -- perhaps I should have left it running.

0908hrs, Sunshine Beach. Jim crested this wave stern first, obviously just before it broke (still from video).

Here's the video I shot and edited. It’ll give you some idea of the swell we were up against.

Some of the waves were much bigger than that in the pic. And Jim managed to find one, which, despite his best attempts to bring his bow around to hit it at 90° bow first, clobbered him. I stood back ready to provide assistance (by calling the Coastguard -- joking) while watching Jim right his yak, climb back in, and paddle back out to quieter water, where I was, a good 20 m from where he'd been clobbered. Confirming that Jim was OK, I decided it was time for me to go in, mainly so I could get the video set up to watch and record from solid ground (well, sand, anyway), Jim's beach return.

So I entered the tricky zone adjacent the outer bank, which has to be transited anyway. Jim and I were only a few metres apart and had our bows pointing out to sea when a wave of biblical proportions appeared on our limited horizon. We both accelerated toward the oncoming wave, certain that this monster was going to break before it reached our present position, and not wishing to be there, or closer to shore, when it happened. Up and up rose the wave face. It seemed to (no, it actually did) tower over me and I just knew, a second before impact, that a clobbering was now on my agenda. Sure enough, the wave broke just before I got there (Jim got through). Even though it smacked me hard on the chest I retained my seat and briefly thought that I had a fighting chance of staying upright, until the stern dug in deeply and over I went, end over end, backwards. Under such circumstances the wave usually leaves the yak behind, bobbing upside down with the rider bobbing next to it, having been buoyed upward by the PFD. And so it was this time. I surfaced next to the yak in perhaps 3-4m of water, for I still had the leashed paddle in my hand, immediately looked out to sea to check for a following wave -- sure enough, there was one, but not so big, and opted to hang onto the yak stern handle and ride this one out until the next trough. Too easy! The wave having passed without too much consternation, I rolled my Espri right way up and boarded, without difficulty, from the port side, which is clear of racked rods for this very purpose. Paddle in hand, I opted to continue my charge into the beach, after all I was through the outer break, however accidentally. The next wave loomed behind. My peripheral vision being pretty good, I could see (1) a newly broken wave catching me as I made my way through the trough of the previous, and (2), about 10m away, a fishing rod floating in the surf -- not mine, I only had two rods and both were aboard. Just as the wave reached me I decided to broach the yak to starboard by digging the paddle in hard on the starboard side and hanging on, leaning out that side, rather than going straight ahead, possibly submerging the bow, and risking a forward flip. This tactic worked far better than I'd hoped for the next instant I was travelling sideways, port side toward the beach, paddle braced on the starboard side, stabilised on the broken wave. The next instant the yak hit the beach sideways, sliding to a halt, right way up. Home and definitely hosed! Too easy!

Dragging the yak up the beach out of the reach of the surge, I looked back into the washing machine I'd just come through. There was Jim, bobbing next to his yak, which was upside down again, on the beach side of the outer bank. Nearby, Jason, who'd opted to come in about the same time as we had, was right way up and, buoyed by the optimism of youth, paddling like crazy, clearly on his home run. He went pretty well too, surfing his Prowler for a good while along the face of a breaking wave, quite close to shore, his paddle dug into the wave on the port side of the yak. But shortly, he too went over, right at the end of his ride. I had the camera out but caught, on video, only the last part of this action.

Jason chasing after his paddle, yak and yellow floating dry bag (still from video).

Jason and his gear were safely ashore, if somewhat bedraggled. How was Jim going? I think at this stage he'd opted to wash in to the beach, hanging on to his inverted yak, for there he was in the surge about 20m from the shore, "walking" his yak in. Nearby I could see a croc -- not that sort -- but the footwear sort, presumably one of Jim's pair which he'd taken out with him. While Jason rescued the croc, I wandered over to Jim to tell him that I'd seen a fishing rod floating in the surf as I came in and to ask him if it was perhaps his. It was, and that and the croc weren't the only things still out there somewhere. The plywood back deck of Jim's yak had popped off, facilitating the escape of the croc, which pair had been stowed in the fishbox for safekeeping, so this piece of ply was also at liberty in the surf. While all this was going on, a bikini clad lady sauntered past, as they do, heading south toward the surf club. About 100m south of us, I saw her pick up something at the water's edge. Jim's rod, for sure! Jim, having been informed of this, broke into a big smile and doubled off down the beach to reclaim one of his favourite rods. Shortly most of the other items which had gone astray washed up on the beach or were recovered by Jason, frolicking in the surf, including my water bottle which is usually secured with two elastic straps on the back deck, and which I hadn't noticed was missing until I saw it lying there as flotsam, very close to my yak.

Jason, who has no radio and so couldn't tell us he'd caught fish, produced a reasonable grass sweetlip from the bowels of his Prowler and recounted a story of a battle with a much larger unknown species of fish which lasted 15 minutes before a bust off.

Jason, from Caloundra, with his first offshore catch, a 39cm grass sweetlip. I think we'll be seeing a lot more of this guy at Noosa.

Don't know how the other guys went. They were still out when we came home. Hope they had as much fun in the surf as we did...

Got urgent work to do, so I won't be able to get out again tomorrow, the third day in a row.

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

tuna in the bay, 02Mar09

From: "kevin long"
Subject: fishing today
Date: Monday, 2 March 2009 4:48 PM

Hi guys

Very busy today so it'll have to be a quicky. Just Jaro and I went this morning. The seabreeze had dropped with the sun, as usual, and we were met with no swell and about a 3knot NW breeze at launch time, around 0545.

0542hrs. How's that for beautiful launch conditions?

Jaro joined me on the beach just before launch and I pointed out to the northern horizon. Jaro looked at me quizzically. "Birds," I said "thousands of them!". Jaro couldn't see them but I was pretty certain I had but while launching I lost sight of them. Never mind, I knew where they were, approximately, and so, appropriately rigged, I headed out to the north, Jaro close behind me.

It wasn't until we were well past the inner shark net that the birds could be seen clearly, and there were indeed lots of them. Not only that but small splashes could be seen right under where they were picking up breakfast. Clearly, there were marine predators present. Before long, Jaro and I were amongst them. We could see that the predators were small tuna but we both hoped that there might be some spotty macs mixed up with them. Jaro hooked up first with his customary holler: "I've got one!". I watched him play it out, a very small mac tuna which he quickly released.

The fish were busting out all over the place and very close to the yaks.

0626hrs -- mac tuna harassing bait fish. The noise was very satisfying... (still from video)

I'd had a few casts but was intent on trying to get the carnage action on camera, so paddled right up and into the feeding melee. Tuna were charging through the panicking masses of bait fish which were showering out of the water in their frantic attempts to escape. Like tiny torpedoes, the tuna were rocketing through, creating white trails where they slashed through the water in pursuit of their hapless prey. All of this was happening all around and under my yak.

Is it any wonder that I soon succumbed to temptation and picked up my casting outfit. One cast and POW, I was on. This fish stripped line off against the drag very quickly and soon I could tell that it was larger than most we could see around us. But the fight was typical mac tuna with the vibrations of its vigorously beating tail being transmitted through the line to my rod each time it screamed off. Jaro came over and kindly took a pic or two before I released it, still very much alive.

A pretty average mac tuna, maybe 65cm long, but one of the larger ones in this bunch. Released alive.

Jaro then nailed another small one, opted to keep it for sashimi.

These little mac tuna put up a hell of a fight for their size -- but no match for Jaro. Blurring caused by water on the lens.

After this we opted to head for Jew Shoal where there was little action, although Jaro did catch a legal sweetlip but decided to let it go. I had a soft plastic and jig bitten off. All I felt was a slight bump, and it was gone. As that was the third I'd lost within an hour, two others to the reef, I was pretty cheesed off -- this was going to be an expensive trip -- around $5 I reckon.

Things were so quiet that we decided to head home early and on the way back I discovered, with the sonar, a new piece of reef, blanketed in baitfish. Yes, I marked it on the GPS for future close examination. And yes, it is closer in than JS.

Predictably, our beach return was dead easy, with little waves providing a gentleman's surf which we both exploited.

Now for tomorrow.

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