lively morning, JS, 30Jun09

From: "kevin long"
Subject: fishing today -- 30jun09. Wow!
Date: Tuesday, 30 June 2009 5:30 PM

The typical winter weather continuing, today had an ideal forecast for an offshore trip so off we went again. Jimbo, Harry, madcow and I. Despite the chilly weather all were keen, as demonstrated by the fact that I was last of the four into the carpark, and I was 10 minutes early!

Fantastic conditions once again. We were also aware, from yesterday's recce by yours truly, that there were tuna hammering baitfish in Laguna Bay so I guess we were ready for anything...

0647hrs. Harry, as always the height of fashion, just before launch. How flat is that shimmering sea?

Before long we were all meandering toward the shoal with baitfish schools, as indicated by fluttering terns and starkly white splashes, being harrassed by mainly tiny tuna all along the route. I was trolling one of my old favourites which had taken many a ride with me and helped deliver some great fish, including a 1.3m spanish mack back in January. It cost me $5 in BigW and owed me nothing, which was fortunate. Being aware from Seabreeze that the wind at DI Point was westerly I opted to head for A3 01, one of my favourite marks on the western side of Jew Shoal proper. A drift from there with a westerly breeze takes a yak right across the main part of the shoal, so it's a good choice in such conditions I reckon. Anyway, I was just arriving at the mark and about to pull in my trolled lure when it went off, big time, the drag of my ancient ABU 10000C howling. A minute or so earlier, as I approached the mark, I noted a tern searching and swooping and also a quite large splash as a predator made short work of some poor bloody baitfish right in my path so I wasn't really surprised when I got the strike. I picked up the rod, leant into the fish and felt the initial surge slow then stop then off it went again. Then nothing... not even the weight of the lure. I retrieved what was left and here's what I found...

0739hrs. The plastic bib containing the steel tow point had broken away from the lure.

That's fishing. As I said, the lure owed me nothing. The breeze was perfect for the drift so without further ado I got down to the business of trying to extract a snapper or sweetlip from the depths of the reef. I had high hopes of success today but those hopes were beginning to be blunted a little when neither I nor anyone else had caught anything significant in the first 30 minutes or so. Then the radio blared -- Harry announced that he'd caught a nice snapper (on fish bait) and that his fishing gear and yak were no longer for sale as the drought had broken. This gave those on radio some heart. I finished the first drift, went back for another then half way through opted to try some deeper water to the north which was rich with GPS marks from previous successes. Jaro, you know where this area is, I'm sure. Brian and I both had the same idea, as I noticed as soon as I turned my yak toward the mark.

Barely had I arrived there than the radio blared again -- Jimbo announcing that "I'm into something big here!". Hmmm -- should I go back to where Jim is? No, I'll stick with this spot.

Some time passed during which Jim announced that he could identify the hooked fish -- a 1.2m shark (an excellent estimate of size as it later transpired) - but once it had seen the yak it had shot through again. So Jim's tussle continued. Eventually he announced by radio that he had the creature under some sort of control on the yak. And shortly after that he could be seen paddling toward Brian and me presumably for purposes of recording the catch photographically. Our shark handling expert is Brian and Jim happened upon him first and under his tutelage Jim bled the shark in the approved manner to improve its eating quality. While they were engaged in this task a whale breached spectacularly some 500m away to the east and I called Jim to warn him to keep an eye out in case the whale headed toward us. Having finished doctoring the shark, Jim then paddled over toward me, the shark draped over the bow of his yak. Just as he approached me my soft plastic bait was hit by a mini express train and after a tussle a decent snapper came into the yak.

0929hrs. My first keeper of the day, taken in the deeper water to the north.

Jim paddled closer and I took the opportunity to capture a pic or two of him with his shark...

0935hrs. Jim with his catch of the day.

I then acquainted Jim and Brian with my drift line which had produced my snapper and they decided to fish the same area, as did Harry who paddled over from the SW part of the reef.

A couple of minutes later, having drifted off and then paddled back the 100m or so to the GPS mark where I hooked the snapper I immediately hooked up again, this time a smaller, but keeper, snapper, also on a soft plastic.

0944hrs. My second snapper.

At this, Jim, Brian and Harry concluded that maybe this was a good spot and so we worked the area over together, drifting gently downwind and casting our jigs into the ~20m depth.

On the second return to the mark I got another typical snapper strike at almost exactly the same place but the hook pulled loose after the first few seconds as the fish surged away against the drag. So clearly the snapper were "on" at this spot.

Harry was next, I think, boating his second snapper for the day, this time on a soft plastic which he must have extracted from some dark place as he mentioned to us earlier that we should shove our soft plastics...

The day was magnificent with a near cloudless sky, clean water, very slight sea and breeze of less than 5 knots, just enough to ruffle the surface. How good was this, and whales too!

Harry having stowed his snapper, cast his soft plastic again and I recall looking over at him and seeing his rod bent into a startling curve as he was towed behind a hooked fish toward the north. This would have been around 1030. Five minutes later he was still fighting this fish so I stopped fishing to join him with the hope of perhaps capturing some interesting video. Clearly, if this fish was a snapper it was huge, so video of the event would be highly prized. My first piece of video was started at 1035 when he'd already been fighting the fish for several minutes. My last piece of video started at 1100 hrs and although the fight was nearing its climax at that time, the fish was still displaying admirable strength and energy while Harry's reel drag was starting to smoke (perhaps I exaggerate a little here, but you get the message). During this 25 minutes or so the fish came near the surface once, close enough for me to identify it as a Longtail tuna, probably around 1m long. And Harry was fighting this fish with his light snapper outfit, 12lb monofilament and threadline reel. Sometime around 1105 the knot parted and the tuna went on its own way, bearing Harry's jig as a campaign medal. I extracted a few shots from the video movies I shot:

Quick underwater shot with the tuna down deep.

Harry bending forward to allow the tuna to pass from the starboard to the port side of his yak.

All the while this was going on Harry had been towed some 600m (measured in a straight line) from where he'd originally hooked up and whales were appearing from time to time, sometimes as close as 200 metres away. Toward the end of the fight Jim had joined Harry and me out there and still had his shark draped over his yak...

That white object on Jim's foredeck is his shark's undersurface.

We three paddled back to the mark that I'd been using earlier and as I passed over the mark I saw fish indications on the sounder display which prompted Jim to try once more for a snapper as he hadn't caught one on a soft plastic "this year" (his words). First cast he was in and he shortly boated a very nice snapper to add to his shark as take home catch.

1122hrs. Jim fighting his snapper with Hells Gates in the background.

Shortly after this, with Harry having left early as he had a 1.00pm appointment for which his yakking attire wouldn't have been appropriate, Jim and I decided that we'd better go. After all, we had a bit of cleaning up to do before getting ready for our next gig at the Sunshine Beach Surf Club tonight. We picked up Brian on the way back and hit the beach around 1235 where the chick magnetism kicked in once more and we, especially Jim, were mobbed by admirers and wannabes.

1237hrs. Jim's shark on the 1.1m measure mat. The injury was inflicted on the water by Jim and Brian in the interests of bleeding the shark.

Admiring onlookers, cameras busily at work

And finally, the snapper taken by Brian, Jim and me... everyone got at least one snapper today

The larger two (Jim's and mine) were each 51cm.

Another wonderful day. Oh and I must tell you about one of the spectators today. She asked me if I were the tour guide for the kayak fishing tour. Honestly, do I look like a tour guide? She seemed puzzled when I explained that we were mates who fish together often and that is the way we fish -- with kayaks. The concept of people fishing while not on an organised and paid for tour seemed difficult for her to grasp. What's the world coming to?

Too knackered and busy to go out tomorrow but hoping for good weather later in the week! Over to you, Jaro... sorry you weren't there today.

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

Snaps and sweeties at JS, 28Jun09

From: "kevin long"
Subject: fishing today -- 28Jun09 -- snapper and sweetlip
Date: Sunday, 28 June 2009 4:29 PM

A couple of days ago, the weekend weather looked like being a wipe-out for offshore kayak fishing but on Saturday afternoon it became apparent that the inshore wind wasn't anywhere near as strong as forecast and that the swell was very small. Accordingly I made up my mind on Saturday night that I'd probably go fishing offshore on Sunday morning and issued an invitation before 6.00pm by email accordingly. The wind stayed down all night and at first light at Sunshine Beach it was still calm. It was go! While gobbling my Weetbix I checked my email and found that I had one acceptance of my invitation -- Brian (paddlepara).

And there he was at the carpark when I arrived at 0635 or so. He'd recently broken two ribs and so hadn't been paddling much but was very keen to get out and try out his repaired bones. As expected, there was no swell. The breeze also, a gentle nor westerly, was as expected, but not as forecast on the normally reliable Seabreeze. The ocean horizon to the north was lumpy and so I knew that there'd be a breeze out there, a couple of km out, but judged that it'd be nothing we couldn't handle easily. The weather pattern (large high moving across Queensland) indicated SW winds would spring up, possibly quite stiffly so I mentioned to Brian before we launched that my escape plan from Jew Shoal, should the wind get really strong, was to go with it and head for the east-facing Sunshine Beach which would be sheltered. Once there we could land with safety because of the low swell and then call Mary, my wife, who could easily deliver a spare car to us so that we could then drive the few km back to Main Beach and pick up our respective kayak carrying cars. At least we had a plan!

0649hrs. Paddlepara does his final checks on his Viking Profish before we launched this morning.

The launch and trip out to JS were easy, with the ~3.5km to Jaro's "Old Faithful" (my A3 01), one of our favourite marks on the western side of Jew Shoal, being covered easily in 30 minutes or so. I selected this as a destination because I had a fair idea that there'd be a westerly breeze out there. And sure enough, out at the shoal I'd estimate the breeze as a steady 10-12 knot westerly, just enough to generate a chop and some whitecaps, and about the maximum I wanted for a nice drift.

As Brian lacked familiarity with Jew Shoal I prepared him in advance to mark the spot on his GPS when I told him to. So on arrival Brian marked it and so could easily come back to it, as he needed to, over the next couple of hours. We started the drift quite close together, probably at about 0740hrs. The breeze was certainly pushing us along, but our drogues were stabilising and slowing the drift and I noted that I had no trouble getting my 1/8oz jig down in the 20m depth in that part of the reef. A few minutes later 16m was indicating on the sounder as I drifted east over the reef and so I adjusted my technique a little to allow for the shallower water. I must say the water looked great, a nice blue, and I had high hopes that we'd do pretty well. Soon, the presence of feeding reef fish was confirmed as a sweetlip opted to take my offering.

0748hrs. A grass sweetlip, not big but a keeper and delicious on the plate, soon found himself in my fishbox.

It takes me a couple of minutes to tether and stow individual fish and by the time I'd finished I noticed that we were still in relatively shallow water (around 14m) and a good 100m or more from where I'd caught the sweetlip. Never mind, the drift was going nicely and the underwater structure looked promising so I opted to continue the drift. This was a good call for on the very next cast I got a solid take on the jig and the yak was pulled around into the breeze and chop as the fish tried to escape the unknown force it had encountered. The fight was typical of a snapper, with surges against the drag and then bump..bump causing the rod tip to act as a shock absorber. It probably only took a couple of minutes to boat this fish but it always seems longer. Anyway, I was shortly photographing the next occupant of my fishbox, and a very nice tenant to have.

0801hrs. A solid snapper, just over 50cm -- a catch to gladden the heart on a cool, windy morning.

By the time I'd tethered and stowed this fish I'd drifted some 800m from my start point. As the depth was now around 20m I judged that perhaps I was off the eastern edge of the platform which constitutes the main section of Jew Shoal and that it was possibly too deep to reach the bottom with a light weight jig, and anyway the fish had both come from shallower reef so opted to return and do the drift again. The trip back, into the teeth of the chop and wind left me thankful that I was wearing my long legged springsuit and booties as spray continuously was thrown up and then deposited in a multitude of glittering droplets over my legs. On this upwind passage I encountered Brian happily drifting on approximately the same drift line as I'd been. On comparing our experiences, Brian revealed that he'd been busted by a couple of good fish which had given very good accounts of themselves and escaped as a result. We discussed tactics and I went back to my hard slog to A3 01, some 400 metres away.

It probably took me the best part of 20 minutes (including time chatting to Brian) to get back the 800m to my mark. Once there I continued my tactic of fishing with one rod only, judging that there was sufficient action that a second outfit deployed would probably prove a nuisance (double hookups, snags, etc). On this second drift I didn't boat any fish but lost one when I probably struck too early. I felt the line tighten and struck immediately only to find that the soft plastic (Power Minnow) had been almost ripped from the hook -- presumably the culprit had grabbed the tail only, intending to eat the lot but I pulled it away from him! A little later I had the Power Minnow ripped in half without feeling a touch. Incidentally I find that these Power Minnows can be used over and over again until there's insufficient body integrity to allow them to be properly pinned on the hook. I routinely put used but usable Power Minnows back in the packet and reuse them successfully next trip.

Anyway, this drift was terminated quicker than the previous as I'd decided that the 600m mark was far enough so pulled in the drogue and started off once more into the wind and chop toward A3 01.

The next drift resulted in some success but no keepers as I hauled in several black tipped cod and a maori cod, unfortunately undersized.

0911hrs. Larger than usual black tipped cod for JS. Legal minimum size for retention: 38cm (I've never seen one taken from JS at that size.)

0915hrs. Maori cod (released). Legal minimum size for retention: 45cm.

0915hrs. Partly digested red rock cod vomited up by the maori cod.

So the action seemed to be picking up, and so was the breeze. The next drift went a little quicker but in the process I managed another keeper snapper, which promptly scoffed a Squidgie soft plastic after I'd decided to try this bait to compare its performance with my usual Power Minnow baits.

0955hrs. Snapper taken on Squidgie Shad 100mm.

I started one more drift after this fish was bagged but noticed that the breeze (or rather wind) had not only picked up slightly in strength but had also swung so that it was now coming from the SW, exactly the direction we needed to take to return to our launch point, some 4km away. Having once before been forced to punch back the whole 4km into a similar, perhaps stronger, wind I decided that it was time to go, for me at least, and paddled over to Brian to let him know. My main concern was that the wind might increase in strength, thus causing our journey home to be very arduous or accept that we had to run for Sunshine Beach with its attendant administrative difficulties regarding recovering the kayaks. I judged that we could make it back to Middle Groyne, albeit slowly with the wind at its present strength and direction. Should we find it too difficult, we'd go for Sunshine.

Brian opted to accompany me back, a wise decision I think. Soon we were punching directly into the breeze and chop, fully aware that we had a full hour of hard slog ahead of us, as the GPS was telling me we were travelling at ~3kph over the "ground" and we had 3.5km to go. We left the shoal at 1030 and almost exactly 1 hour later arrived off Main Beach having paddled non stop, achieving somewhat better speed in the last couple of km as the wind's strength became diminished by the shelter offered by the land. Brian, Scottish and ex Royal Marine, was in a bit of pain from his newly-repaired ribs, but, as he stoically said "It's only pain!". I felt fine and was quite chuffed that I could paddle at that rate and still have a decent reserve (ie I could still stand up when I got to the beach). I reckon if the wind were 5-10 knots stronger I'd have gone for Sunshine.

Anyway, back on the beach it was sunny and warm and calm, and beachgoers warmed themselves or, if visitors from cooler climes, frolicked in the sparkling water. As usual Brian and I were approached by several keen to see what fishing kayaks looked like and how they worked ("What's that thing?") and curious to find out if they could perhaps participate in this activity at some future time "What do they cost?". Much interest was aroused by the fish, with kids tentatively poking the eyes, as they do, and parents telling them "Don't touch!".

My take-home catch arrayed on the Espri's back deck, on the beach.

Thanks for coming along, Brian.

OK, now for Tuesday or Wednesday. Who's coming and when?

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

tinnie, tuna, LB, 25Jun09

From: "kevin long"
Subject: fishing today -- 25jun09
Date: Thursday, 25 June 2009 4:33 PM

The weather over the last week or so has been decidedly dodgy but today we got out.

As usual, Jaro organized it for a 0645 start. I got to the car park at 0635 to find that Brian (madcow) and Jimbo were already there. Brian had been down to the beach for a look and reckoned it was OK to go so I didn't even bother to take a look at the surf. Jaro arrived just as I was dragging the yak off the roof rack. So there were four of us...

0653hrs. Looks easy huh?

Being first onto the beach, I launched first, quite confidently, despite Jaro's faint misgivings "Hmmm, might be a bit tricky". As usual, I followed the channel hard against the rock wall. On reaching the holding area just at the end of the wall easily and without pause, I took a look at the oncoming sets, judged that there were no nasties in close proximity and headed for the exit. Once in this exit area you have to keep going no matter what. Imagine my feelings when a 6-foot wall of water appeared from nowhere, obviously intent on smashing me and my tiny yak. This has happened to me at least twice before at this same spot. And I thought I was getting better at picking the sets! The breaking wave smacked me in the chest in mid-paddle stroke and I clearly remember trying vainly to hold my seat while the yak bow pointed skywards. Next thing I'm in the water, bobbing around in the surf supported by my PFD and the yak is next to me upside down. Another wave came and swept the yak out of my grip. My mobile phone in its Aqua Pac waterproof container was floating next to me, tethered to my PFD. How deep is it here? I wondered, and felt down as far as I could with my feet but couldn't touch bottom. There's a rip that runs out to sea there so I started swimming along the beach as well as one can with a PFD on, and dive booties on the feet and a sodden hat on your head. A couple of waves helped my progress and a minute or so later I could feel sand with my feet.

There was a bit of... let's say disarray... as far as the yak and its equipment were concerned. However, there was no permanent damage -- many things just needed to be tidied up and so I spent about five minutes on the beach trying to look as inconspicuous as possible, repositioning rods, restrapping, etc. Meanwhile, my companions, who'd successfully paddled out past me while I'd been sacrificed to the sandmonster were showing great and touching concern over my fate by calling on the radio to determine whether I was still capable of responding. A couple of minutes later I was back in the saddle and ready for the fray again. This time the outcome was more favourable to me and I shortly joined Jim and Brian "out the back"

Off we went, Jew Shoal our goal. Because I'd started my rigging up a little later than the others (for obvious reasons) I was the last in a string of four yakkers heading north. About 2km short of the shoal Jim called on the radio and informed us that he'd spotted an upturned tinny to the east of his path and was altering course to investigate. This sounded quite interesting so I also altered course and soon spotted Jim and the inverted tinny. The camera, being waterproof, was still functioning despite the dunking (not its first, nor likely its last) so out it came to record this historic moment when Noosa Yakkers get involved for the first time in a maritime rescue event.

0740hrs. Jim and his inverted tinny, which turned out to be a tender for the vessel Sea Mist (as painted on its side), presumably broken loose while the vessel was in transit past Noosa.

Jim called the Coastguard by VHF radio and reported the drifting boat and its location (lat and long). The CG undertook to pick it up as it was a significant hazard to other vessels.

OK, now to the fishing. Jaro and Brian had a few minutes start on Jim and me but had reported no action by the time Jim and I arrived on the reef. Shortly I spotted another yakker. A radio call confirmed that this was Antony (fishpod), from Brisbane, who had contacted me the night before to obtain our VHF communication channel as he was considering an early morning fishing trip to Jew Shoal today.

Despite trying all of our normal hotspots, none of us had scored any fish of significance by 0830. The breeze was initially around 10 knots from the WSW, giving us quite a fast drift which is not always conducive to good fishing. Just after 0830 I opted to fish the shallow banks (14-10m deep) west of the pinnacles and was soon rewarded with a solid hookup which turned out to be a nice fat sweetlip.

0847hrs. First keeper of the day -- grass sweetlip.

Although the bottom fishing was quiet, there were plenty of signs of mackerel tuna. From time to time they'd crash through the surface in pursuit of prey but none of us was interested in chasing them as we were after snapper and sweetlip. Further exploitation of the shallow grounds proved fruitless so at around 0950 at the end of a drift I decided to try the spot Jaro affectionately calls "Old Faithful" and near which he was now fishing. I set up my drift from this spot at around 10am and was watching Brian, a little downwind of me, when I saw his rod bend as he took the weight of a reasonable fish. As I saw this happen, my jig was picked up lightly but firmly and I also found myself hooked into a fish, which soon revealed itself as a keeper snapper.

1004hrs. My second keeper, a bronze coloured snapper.

Shortly after this we all agreed that it was time to call it a day so we paddled back together in close company. During the paddle back, about 2km from MG, Jim got a hookup on his trolled lure.

1102hrs. Jim fighting his fish (still from video).

As we all expected because they'd been blasting out from time to time, it was a mackerel tuna, which Jim opted to release.

1103hrs. Jim releases his (quite large) mac tuna (still from video).

The surf zone transit now occupied us. After leaving Jew Shoal we were overtaken by some spectacularly steep swells which gave us an idea of what might be in store and as we approached the beach we could see that there were some quite nasty sets rolling in now and again, smashing themselves on the rocks of the groyne. Would we get wet arses on the way in? There was only one way to find out. Brian went first and did an excellent job of his transit. Jaro and I saw our chances simultaneously and started next, about 30 m apart (E-W). Obviously we'd picked the sets pretty well for we weren't overwhelmed by any large waves. As we approached the beach, Jim appeared in our peripheral vision neatly surfing a small wave further to the west. He passed us easily and cruised up onto the beach making us both jealous that we hadn't cracked the same wave. All four of us got in without getting wet.

1135hrs. The yaks assembled on the beach. From left, Jim, madcow, Jaro.

The take home catch. Not spectacular, but very tasty. Madcow's fish is in the middle

Thanks for organising, Jaro. maybe next Wednesday is viable for the next foray into the enemy territory? Note all that Madcow and Steve (turtle boy) are interested in having a go tomorrow so contact them if you're interested. I may get there but don't know yet.

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

slow at sunshine, 15Jun09

From: "kevin long"
Subject: fishing today -- 15jun09
Date: Monday, 15 June 2009 2:49 PM

Six of us fronted today at 0630 on the dot. The doggie beach carpark, Sunshine Beach was where we'd agreed to meet to check out the surf conditions before deciding whether to fish Sunshine Reef (launch at Sunshine Beach), launch at Main Beach (for JS) or go back to bed.

Brian (madcow), who hadn't launched at Sunshine before, and Bill (first timer, see photo later) were already there when I arrived at 0615 so the three of us strolled down to take a look. Conditions were superb, with little or no wind, and a tiny swell. We scampered back to the car park where the other three we were expecting, Jaro, Jim and Harry, were either already parked or soon to arrive.

0633hrs (how keen is this?) Bill Barnett, who has given up golf because it no longer has any challenges for him, was keen to get going on this his first trip with Noosa Yakkers. He's temporarily using Harvey's Espri while Harvey is undergoing medical treatment.

Bill's Noosa Yakkers mug shot.

Before long we were all trundling our yaks down the bitumen path leading to the beach. What a glorious morning.

0644hrs. Jim's first away, paddling furiously to crest the small wave before it breaks and soaks him. Jaro gets ready to go.

I hung around to add a little moral support to Bill's first surf launch (not that this particular surf was a big deal), so Bill and I launched together after Jaro. All was going smoothly until Bill missed his footing when climbing aboard, just as I paddled past him. In he went, up to his neck (sitting down), as a small wave rolled through. The cardinal rule here is "Don't stop to help your mate, as you'll probably get dunked too," and I obeyed it, turning around once I was clear of the break to see Bill back on his yak paddling like crazy out through the small break. He made it easily and was still smiling so I knew little harm had been done except to his dignity, which is OK as a yakker with dignity remaining is unknown in these parts.

Shortly we were paddling the mere 1.5km out to Sunshine Reef which we had to ourselves at this time on this Monday morning. We tried hard to catch fish but it appears that there was little action of the type we sought. Jim, growing weary of the lack of action at the close-in part of the reef, headed out wider to another mark he had on his GPS. While there he had a massive strike on a trailed pilchard and was unable to turn the fish. Faced with a break off as the last few metres of line on his spool became exposed he did the only thing he could do and lock up the drag. This either turns the fish or busts the line. The latter was the result in this case.

Steve (Turtleboy) then checked in by radio and announced he was coming out to join us and so we soon had him out there too -- seven of us.

I deployed a hard body lure down deep weighed down with a ball sinker and this caught my only fish for the morning, a not so welcome Red Scorpion-Cod.

0946hrs. Red Scorpion-Cod. Although delicious to eat, I reckon they're hardly worth the trouble as the spines carry venom sacs which can really spoil your whole day. If you catch one of these handle it with extreme care.

So, a dead quiet morning, despite magnificent conditions. Jim had to leave early and Bill, feeling a little seasick, opted to travel back with him. Before he left, I thought I'd take a pic of Bill in the kayak off his home village, Sunshine Beach.

Bill on his first offshore yak fishing foray. Sunshine Beach in background.

Around 1100hrs I radioed the remaining yakkers and suggested we call it quits soon. All agreed to this and before long we were headed back to the beach where the swell turned out to be not as bad as on previous occasions, as all five of us hit the beach right way up. I understand that Jim and Bill also had uneventful landings earlier. So one good thing to come from the day was increased experience with the notorious Sunshine Beach sand monster, which was perhaps asleep today.

1139hrs. Brian (madcow) about to ground on the beach after successfully picking a lull in the swell. (still from video)

A disappointing trip, fishwise, but at least we got out in superb weather conditions and two yakkers got a first experience of the Sunshine Beach launch in perfect conditions. Looks like Jew Shoal will be back on the agenda after last Saturday's great result. Nevertheless, Sunshine Reef should always be an option when the weather's appropriate, I reckon.

Thanks for organizing Jaro and thanks all for coming along. Hope you can join us again soon, Bill.

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

Great day at JS, 13Jun09

From: "kevin long"
Subject: fishing today -- 13jun09
Date: Saturday, 13 June 2009 4:47 PM

Fantastic result today. Not only was the weather perfect but Jaro filled his bag. Brian and I, the only other starters, did OK, but not compared with Jaro, who admittedly has had a tough time lately.

So the three of us fronted at 0645-ish ready for a launch in superb conditions, if a little chilly (little chilly? shit, it was cold!!) by Noosa standards.

0658hrs. How good was this! Jaro heads out first.

We made our ways separately the 4km or so to the shoal, each heading for his chosen spot to start a drift propelled by the gentle SW breeze. I noted that I had my first cast of a jig away at 0745, at a point some 300m SW of the pinnacles, in 20m depth.

In summary, this is what happened for the first couple of hours. All was pretty quiet for an hour or so, although during this time Brian got cleaned up by some monster or other. At 0850-ish my cast jig was picked up by a fish within a few seconds of hitting the water. At first I thought I'd got a snapper then I experienced an almighty run, most un-snapper like as the hooked fish headed due east at high speed. I watched the spool of my Shimano Sienna quickly empty as the kayak was also starting to be towed. To reduce the drag on the fish, and conserve line, I pulled in the drogue after which the yak and I set off under tow at a pretty good speed, following the fish. A couple of minutes later, however, the line went slack and I retrieved it to find that the jig hook had broken!

0855hrs. Broken jig hook; main line b/s: 12 pounds.

In view of later events, and previous experience, I reckon that this was a mackerel tuna.

We all tried fishing in various places and Brian, intent on nailing the monster which had cleaned him up earlier, hooked up a pretty big shark which he videoed underwater with his brand new Finepix underwater camera. The shark was too big to be safely brought into the yak so he wisely opted to cut it off. Perhaps Brian could give us a more detailed description separately. I saw the video and was most impressed with the size of the shark and clarity of the image so hopefully we can extract enough to make a youtube video of the event.

Meanwhile Jaro had been experimenting with a new location and was reporting lots of bites and quite a few small fish. Eventually he announced that he'd caught a 42cm flathead (a very unusual capture out there), then sometime later a maori cod, which at 38cm, he returned to the water (legal size 45cm min), then soon after a sweetlip, well over the 30cm legal limit. At around 1045, still fishless, I decided to join Jaro to get some pics and hopefully some fish. Not wanting to crowd him, I pulled up about 150m away, cast out a jig and saw Jaro's jig rod bend over. In response to my call over the radio he confirmed that he was hooked up to something big so I paddled over, camera ready, to find out what the fuss was about. After chasing him and his fish around a bit I eventually got there just as Jaro was confirming that he'd hooked a big mackerel tuna. So I was on hand when he gaffed it.

1048hrs. Jaro gaffs his mac tuna.

Brian had seen the kerfuffle and decided to join us in this hotspot that Jaro had discovered, which was outside the area we usually fish. Jaro led us to his mark, nearby, and we commenced to fish but not before we'd also marked it on our GPS devices. No sooner had we got there than Jaro had another hookup. Shortly he boated another nice sweetlip.

1101hrs. Jaro with his second, or third, sweetlip. (still from video)

He and I had only just restarted fishing after this when I hooked up (at last). I quickly boated a 40cm snapper.

1107hrs. 40cm snapper.

It is just a blur in my memory as to the sequence of events from there. Jaro landed several more fish and Brian landed at least one good sweetlip. But the camera faithfully tells us that the next significant event was a mighty strike on a baited line that Brian had decided to leave in the water as he moved the few metres back to the hotspot. I saw the strike, at about 1140hrs and noticed that Brian had great difficulty getting the rod out of the rod holder as it was being held down under pressure from the struggling fish. I pulled in my line and followed with the camera as Brian and his yak were towed around on a glassy sea. The fight lasted quite a while and eventually Brian could see that he'd hooked a good sized mac tuna.

1150hrs. Brian puts some stick on the mac tuna.

The fight was nearing the end when something in the terminal tackle parted and the rod straightened itself with a jerk. "Bugger" said Brian, as the fish swam off having earned its victory in a fair fight.

We hung around for a while longer during which Jaro boated two snapper in quick succession. Today he was certainly making up for the last few trips. I hooked up again only to be bitten off. Brian had more action with smaller snapper.

But eventually around 1245pm we decided to leave them, even if they were still biting, as we'd been out on the water for over five hours at that stage.

There was scarcely a wave as we hit the beach, Brian and I almost together followed by Jaro, several minutes later.

My snapper and Brian's (first) sweetlip.

Then Jaro came in and emptied his fish bag onto the beach.

Jaro's take home catch. The mac tuna went 70cm and the largest sweetlip 45cm.

Of course, as usual we were mobbed by the beach crowd. Jaro, feeling generous, gave away two of his snapper to a nice young couple, one of whom was wearing a brief bikini.

Jaro charming the beachgoers.

Another great day in superb Noosa winter weather. Thanks for organizing Jaro. It's nice to see that your mojo's back.

Next probable trip: Monday -- Sunshine Reef. Yahoo!

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

DB reef snapper, vid, 09Jun09

From: "kevin long"
Subject: fishing today -- 09jun09
Date: Tuesday, 9 June 2009 5:07 PM

Magnificent weather greeted us today. Jaro had made the call and Harry, Jim, Steve and I answered it, making five starters, four of whom met at the doggie beach car park at 0630. Steve came along a little later.

All got out safely and relatively dry. While we were setting up our gear "out the back" I was struck by the grandeur of the scene so took this pic of Harry backgrounded by our home village of Sunshine Beach and the setting full moon.

A few minutes later we were paddling toward the rising sun, to the edge of the massive Sunshine Reef which here comes within 2km of the beach.

The further we paddled out, the more influential became the breeze, which was steady at about 10 knots from the WNW. Within 20 minutes I was on my chosen drift, popped out the drogue and sent a soft plastic on its journey toward the unseen reef, 27 metres below the surface. Jim then called me on the radio to announce the capture of a small shark on his deep-trolled pilchard bait.

It wasn't long before the action started for me -- about 15 minutes, I reckon. My jig head right at the deepest part of its journey, directly below the kayak, was picked up quite gently by what I thought was a sweetlip, but which turned out to be a quite nice snapper -- a good start to the day!

30 minutes passed, then, on my second 500m drift, the jig was picked up once more and the culprit was soon revealed to be a 43cm grass sweetlip (aka lipper, locally). This was a pleasing addition to the swag as my wife and I eat quite a bit of fish and consider sweetlip to be no slouch on the dinner plate and at least as good as snapper.

45 minutes later the jig was picked up once more, this time a better snapper.

This was the extent of the action for me today, but I hung around, enjoying the scenery and the company of my yak fishing mates. Then the whales turned up. I was chatting to Harry and keeping a weather eye on Jaro who was a good 500m away to the east, when I spotted first the cloudlike puffs indicating whale exhalations, then a huge tail which reared from the surface. Simultaneously with the sighting Jaro came up on the radio and reported that he too had seen the whales and that they appeared to be heading straight for him. And they did.

Jaro afterwards breathlessly told us of the suspense as the pod of three humpbacks swam straight toward him with one of the whales passing on the surface no more than a paddle's length away. Fortunately it chose to pass on his lee side as his fishing lines were trailing on the windward size. Imagine the chaos if one of his lines had been entangled in one of those gigantic "pectorals".

Jim having pulled the pin earlier, Harry and I held out until 1130, when we headed back to pay our dues to the Sunshine Beach sand monster. Steve followed not much later but Jaro held out for a couple of hours more and finished up with the only other fish for our group today, a parrot fish, pic below.

Let's go again soon, Jaro. Weather's looking great.

video for this trip