Solo at DB Reef, 31Oct11

Wind: calm, mostly
Swell: low NE
Current: Doggie Beach Reef, northerly, about 500m per hour
Launch point: Doggie Beach
Participants: sunshiner, alone

With various other commitments preventing a fishing trip in the last few days I checked the forecast every few hours over the weekend, hoping to get a crack at the fish on Monday. My luck held and the forecast I viewed early on Monday looked much like this slightly later one.

I figured that if the wind was light at reveille I’d go, launching from Doggie Beach as soon as I could get my act together with the proviso that with the first puff of the forecast southerly change I’d be heading for firm ground.

It takes me about 30 minutes to ready my yak and body and so when I awoke at 0515 (I know, pretty late, but cut me a little slack, guys) and found no wind at all I was out of bed like a startled sloth. The trip to Doggie Beach doesn’t even get the Zook’s temp guage off the stop and so by about 0550 I was ready to launch. Looking at the conditions it was hard to believe that, according to the forecast, this shore would be a mess of building waves and 20-30 knot winds in a few hours.

I rarely get a completely dry launch here at Doggie Beach and today, as usual, I took an invigorating bath on the way out through the tiny break. But after only about 50 metres I was through the surf zone and heading for the safe zone about 150m out. Man that’s a great feeling, leaving the surf break behind as you crest the smooth limpid waters and can look down and see every ripple of sand on the sea floor. Now for the real business of the day!

Rods and electronics extracted from the hatch and deployed, I was soon paddling eastward toward a mark that we call Doggie Beach Reef, invisible to the eye but easily found with the aid of my GPS which told me its direction and its distance, 1500m.

Although I rarely catch anything by trolling in this area, I nearly always put out a trolling rig and today had my favourite hard body lure out just in case. This went off a few minutes into the trip; not with the screaming run typical of a longtail or mackerel but with a gentle clicking which I guessed was most likely one of the small pelagics.

I decided to keep this fish as Richmond, one of the Noosa Yakkers and also an AKFF member, mentioned recently that they are very good eating. Anyway, they’re a lovely bait and it’s not as if they’re an endangered species.

Almost as soon as I’d resumed paddling I spotted a humpback whale to the SE of me about a kilometre distant. There are plenty of them here at the moment but soon they’ll all have departed south, heading for their waiting smorgasbord in the Southern Ocean. Ever since I had a very scary and very close encounter with a breaching humpback a year or so ago out here I’ve been super wary of accidentally or deliberately getting close to them so in this case I changed course slightly to put some safety space between this animal and me.

On my arrival at DB Reef the sea was as smooth as the skin of my yak and the air still. A small north easterly swell gently raised and lowered my boat rhythmically and the only sound was the subdued crashing of the small surf on the distant beach. The ocean was deep blue and clear, the depth here about 27m. To the west the village where I live was brightly illuminated by the climbing sun and its inhabitants gradually waking up and starting to go about their business, or walk on the beach. To be out here alone on such a tiny craft and on such a morning is a privilege available to very few. I never tire of the experience.

There’s so much to see and marvel at it’s a wonder I ever get any fishing done but I do, eventually. Drift fishing for snapper and sweetlip was my aim this morning and soon I’d deeply deployed a home made rig on my heavy trailing (also trolling) outfit and had made my first cast with my casting outfit which was rigged with a 1/4 ounce 3/0 jighead and a four inch soft plastic. As far as I could tell there was no drift but my GPS soon revealed that a current was carrying us south at about 500m per hour. The lack of wind made the deployment of my shopping bag drogue pointless so it stayed dry for the time being. Time: 0630-ish.

It took until nearly 7am but eventually my soft plastic offering was accepted. I’d been watching the sonar which had shown little but the undulating ocean floor, uninterrupted by suspended schools of fish. This I knew to be “normal” out here but I also knew that it didn’t necessarily mean there were no fish around. Anyway, to return to the chase, I’m in the habit of twitching my SP to give it greater visibility while it’s swimming around down there in the gloomy depths. One of these twitches was interrupted, quite gently. Having struck at the interruption I was pleased to find that I was apparently solidly connected, via my 6kg monofilament, to a fish which was not at all perturbed, yet! It initially put up a leisurely objection which didn’t even take line off against the drag, yet! Time to get him up off the bottom. Ah, now the spool is spinning, in favour of the fish. I quickly upgraded my initial assessment of a small keeper grass sweetlip or snapper to a bigger sweetlip, whose behaviour generally accords with what I was now experiencing. They get their heads down and go for the bottom, whereas snapper usually “run” along the bottom. I could also feel by the deep lunges that this was likely a decent fish but it took several minutes of ratchet singing and spool spinning in both directions before I could see, several metres down, the beautiful brown chequered flanks and blue lined face of the “grassy”.

Today’s objective now attained, I could relax a little, not that I was stressed, of course. Continuing the drift produced no further action so when I heard the unmistakeable snort of a whale, unseen nearby (probably in my blind spot behind me) I pulled up the trailing outfit to paddle back along my drift line.

One of the problems we have here at Sunshine Reef is the occasional presence of small toothy critters which are adept at eating your SP without detection (see above pic). Once I find, by retrieving the SP to find a mere stump remaining, that these plastic munchers are hanging around, I usually resort to fishing with only my casting outfit, which at least gets retrieved and checked frequently.

Possibly there are some GPS-using kayak fishers who may find the above pic interesting. I use the “Tracks” page to keep an eye on where I am in relation to other drifts and waypoints.

At around 8am my cast SP struck again, this time a 38cm snapper.

By now an ominous cloud bank had filled the eastern and southern skies, and the breeze had started to strengthen from the south. This was earlier than forecast, but I knew the time to head for the beach had come. Indeed, in the 20 minutes or so that I spent paddling to the beach the wind picked up to about 15 knots.

The waves on the beach were now somewhat larger but were still well within my comfort zone and I picked up a nice little breaker which took me right in to the sand where my wife and (visiting) daughter were waiting to watch how I’d go. This is a great way to spend your older years. I hope you get to try it.

Sunshine Reef, 29Oct11

eyetag and richmond got into the snapps and other reefies at Sunshine Reef on Saturday. Here's their AKFF post, including pics, on the trip.

Trip 29Oct11

Jew Shoal snapper, 25Oct11

Subject: Fishing Today 25/10/2011
From: "Jaro Cerny"
Date: 25/10/2011 4:20 PM

Participants: Mike, Peter and Jaro
Weather: Initially thin overall cloud cover changing to a sunny day. Wind none to speak of until we left JS to help us paddle in.

I arrived at the car park at 5.00am (little later than planned) to find Mike unloading his kayak. Pedro Peter had obviously arrived and gone earlier.

We were greeted with calm water except for good and frequent rollers breaking at the point. Luckily a new channel is forming again near the rocks which we utilized. Timing was of the essence which we did and got out with dry bums.

We headed for JS, arriving at 6.00am and finding Pedro there. He told us he had been there only a little earlier as he had also slept in.

Using banana prawns I was soon getting a lot of nuisance nibbles removing my bait. The others reported the same. Pedro then advised he had caught a keeper sweet lip that was quite small. I then caught an undersize sweet lip.

At about 7.00am I finally got a decent strike and soon had a keeper snapper on board. It was only 37 cm but as I had not been out for ages and Carolyn has been craving a fish meal, I kept it.

Mike left us close to 8.00am as he had to go to work... we commiserated with him. At 8.15am I had another good strike and boated another snapper, this one was 41cm.
The fish stopped biting after this and I pulled the pin at 9.45am and headed for home, Pedro electing to stay on.

Getting in was going to be a challenge. The tide was out and there was a pronounced shore break. I thought I had timed it well, catching a smallish wave and thinking I could ride it in. Big mistake! The water disappeared and my kayak nosed into the sand, rolling me embarrassingly into the water.

Anyway the water was refreshing. Shortly after Peter came in also (upright) as the wind had picked up and made things a little unpleasant.

It was great to be back on the water on such a beautiful day after such a long absence and at least Peter and I got good fresh fish meals out of it.

Noosa Yakkers Coordinator
Viking Pro Fish 45
Call Sign Jaro

DB Reef snapper, 11Oct11

Wind: light, variable
Swell: low N
Current: none
Launch point: Doggie Beach
Participants: richmond, pedro, jag-one, turtleboy, jimbo, sunshiner

I understand that richmond launched from MG, but the rest of launched from Doggie Beach, at varying times. In any case I was the last to launch as a result of a very late night the night before.

Launch conditions at DB were exceptional, the sort of rare conditions not to be missed if you can make it. Shimmering glass-clear water tumbling in tiny waves onto a pale yellow sand beach with a backdrop of a blue sky -- fantastic.

By the time I launched at around 0830 (around three hours later than the others) I learned by radio that pedro and jag-one had each bagged one snapper but jimbo and turtleboy had nil returns.

Rather than paddle the full distance of 1.5km to the mark at which pedro, turtleboy and jag-one were fishing (jimbo was fishing in the north sunshine area, while richmond, I think, was fishing JS), I opted to try one of my closer marks first. Clearly the fishing was not in the sensational category out further so why not try closer in before heading out wide?

Despite the proliferation of life near the bottom, I couldn’t attract any attention from large fish so headed out wide after getting two soft plastic baits chopped to pieces by creatures with small mouths and sharp jaws.

By now pedro had headed even further out so only jag-one and turtleboy were left on this mark, Doggie Beach Reef.

On the way I came across several turtles just basking in the sun. They must have been sleepy because I got close to a couple before they detected me and, with a small splash, went for the bottom.

Jag-one fishes and paddles from the stern seat of a double kayak. This works for him, even through some quite challenging surf breaks. You can always recognize him and his boat from a distance at sea because the combination looks like the profile of an oil tanker, with a long, long, front section and superstructure prominent at the stern.

I’d arrived at this location at about 0930 and jag-one, who’d had no further action since boating a snapper when he first arrived very early on, mentioned that his GPS was telling him that the best fishing times for today were between 0930 and 1130. Therefore the action might start soon. I was sceptical about this prediction but deployed my usual soft plastic bait anyway. At 0945 my SP was taken vigorously while it was hanging practically motionless under the yak, close to the bottom in 26m depth. While this wasn’t a big snapper, it was a keeper and very welcome as fresh fish for the table at home.

This gave us some hope but my companions couldn’t get a hit, and nor could I, until an hour later when my SP was seized at about 18m as it was dropping.

Meanwhile, pedro had been radioing reports of occasional catches elsewhere on the reef, interestingly, after 0930. My score of two, albeit small, snapper, both on SP, was being clobbered by his bait fishing technique, especially after he started using pieces of fresh bonito, one of several he’d caught on pilchard bait, down deep.

As usual at this time of the year on the Sunshine Coast and in tropical waters world-wide, there was quite a lot of trichodesmium adrift. This is a form of cyanobacteria, and not, as some commonly believe, “coral spawn”.

My kayak was drifting at right angles to the tiny northerly breeze and this caused the floating trichodesmium to accumulate in layers on the downwind side of the kayak.

By now we were thinking of heading in. Jimbo had already left, fishless except for a small mac tuna, and turtleboy had decided to also head for the beach via the close-in mark I’d tried earlier on. One last cast produced a handsome maori cod, unfortunately (for me) less than minimum legal size, which is 45cm.

Turtleboy was safely on the beach by the time jag-one and I pulled the pin and so helped guide us to the best beach landing spot. I think today’s return to Doggie Beach is the easiest I’ve had. Pedro was not far behind us and we paddlers watched with interest as he brought his pedal yak safely through the small break.

Pedro had a varied catch which included three snapper, three sweetlip, a tusk fish and a couple of bonito about 30cm long.

This was a beautiful day to be out on the ocean in a kayak. I didn’t earlier mention the whales, which were a significant part of the scenery today. One in particular put on a fine display of tail slapping just to the north of us while we fished Doggie Beach Reef.

Comments welcome from all, especially those out fishing today. Richmond, how’d you go?

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
Location:Sunshine Reef

Windy's pb snapper, 09Oct11

Wind: light westerly
Swell: low N
Current: at Jew Shoal, none
Launch point: Middle Groyne
Participants: richmond, eyetag, gemini, windy, carlo, sunshiner

With a month of fat living (and no kayaking) behind me, and in front too, around the stomach area, I was anxious to get back into the saddle to hopefully help shed some of that unwanted weight and regain my paddling fitness (and maybe even catch a fish or two).

The forecast from several days ago held up and conditions were ideal when I arrived at MG at 0515. Carlo and gemini were already there, setting up, and eye tag, richmond and windy had already launched in the previous hour.

Incredibly, a few minutes before we launched here (take another look at the waves above) two board riders (suspected hetero couple, visitors to Noosa) were sitting on their boards just out in front. What were they thinking?

Soon we were sitting out the back, having mastered the tricky sets, readying our gear. Eyetag quickly responded to my radio call and confirmed that he and richmond were up near LH Reef while windy had opted to head for JS. As the wind for JS seemed very favorable I opted to head for that familiar place, as did my two companions.

No birds, no surface action; not even a whale at this stage. Water beautifully clean and blue and not a whitecap in sight.

We started our fishing at the western edge of JS, at Old Faithful (a name which possibly needs changing in view of recent results for me there) with the aim of drifting across the shoal with the gentle westerly, catching heaps of snapper and sweetlip as we went.

I could see windy to the east and was happy to hear his news, by radio, that he’d just bagged a PB snapper of 56cm. Maybe there was a chance for the rest of us. Meanwhile our two mates to the west, eyetag and richmond, were reporting no action and a baby whale hanging around them (where’s Mum? was eyetag’s worry).

Shortly I had my first bit of action on my SP. True, it put little strain on my gear but this quite common fish looked uncommonly striking in the early morning light so I pulled out the camera.

Shortly afterward another couple of reefies common on JS took my SP.

While even small fish such as these can give encouragement the reality was that snapper and sweetlip were scarce today.

At morning tea time we congregated just south of the Pinnacles and took the opportunity to get a pic of the only keeper snapper taken, and its captor, “windy”.

By about 0900 at JS we were all a little jaded, having fished for several hours for a slim result. Gemini opted to paddle over to LH reef to see if he could get a close look at a whale hanging around eyetag and richmond. Carlo pulled the pin, having run out of bait and patience. Windy and I also left around the same time and although I was a fair way in front of him at the start he soon overhauled me. Having been gifted suitable legs by his parents, he can really get that Hobie moving.

Windy and I spent a little time off the end of the groyne discussing options for arriving on the beach the right way up. The waves were small but they were breaking right across the beach and quite tricky for anyone who has had little experience in beach launches.

From radio conversations I understand that eyetag and richmond had little to show for the morning’s fishing either, but please feel free, anyone, to post a comment.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Des, Harry, whales, 8Oct11

Subject: Yakking on 08Oct11
From: Des Mabbott
Date: 8/10/2011 1:06 PM

Hi Guys,

This report is a bit late but may be of use.

Harry and I left MG on Thursday about 08:00 in flat as conditions and proceeded to Jew Shoal with no interest shown in our trolled HBs.

On arrival we encountered Pedro who had left earlier and indicated things were a bit slow and that he had only one keeper Sweetlip.

Conditions were excellent with little wind and a very gentle and hardly noticeable swell. There was little current either so the kayaks barely drifted. The wind picked up a little from the north about noon which was good as it helped us back home.

Action was slow but lots of small fish pecking at pilchards with two red striped Rock fish (?) and another like a leopard was all I could muster to begin with. No interest in soft plastics.

Harry seemed to continue picking up a few keepable snapper and sweetlip but nothing of real note.

Then we were visited by humpback and junior with much tail slapping and fin smashing on the water. Quite forgot about fishing for a while. The whales were inshore of us and put on a great show for about 20 mins. I did manage to get one or two shots.

They went off and then we seemed to cover a shoal (school, mob?) of sharks with reef sharks and hammerheads racing off with our pilchards. Harry and I enjoy a feed of flake so that was ok. I hooked and returned 3 and kept 1.

Then it was all over and on way back trolled HB but still no interest. No signs of any pelagic activity.

Hope you guys do better on Sunday, tight lines

call sign Stretch
Kayak Espri

eyetag & richmond, 01Oct11

Subject: Fishing today 01-10-11
From: "Ian"
Date: 1/10/2011 6:52 PM

Hi all,

I had a paddle with Jeff Adams (Richmond) today. We trolled bait and hardbodies up to Halls and back. Conditions were perfect.

We launched 4.45 returning to shore around 8.00 just as the wind got up. We saw several Longtail jumping, Dolphins, plenty of bait and a Turtle, the only thing missing was fish on the ends of our lines. Jeff had one strike on his trolled Pilchard but the fish missed the hooks.

call sign;eye tag