First tuna a YFT, 11Jan12

TR by sunshiner

Wind: calm initially, then NW to about 5 knots at Jew Shoal
Swell: low northerly
Current: toward east at Jew Shoal
Launch point: Middle Groyne
Participants: jaro, sunshiner, jimbo, turtleboy, GrantW, windy, beejay, gemini

Several people had their sleep interrupted this morning. They happened to be sleeping in campervans parked in our carpark. Jaro, in his usual parking spot, was rummaging around in the dark around 4:00am setting up his yak on one side of one such van, as I pulled into my favourite spot on the other side of the van. Then the garbage truck arrived. I’d be surprised if the van’s occupants stayed another night.

The moon was shining brightly, still 2.5 hrs short of setting so Jaro’s frequent rejoinder about the futility of day-time fishing while the moon is full came to mind. I resolved to remind him of it if the fish were biting, and had the opportunity to do just that a couple of hours later.

Six of the flotilla launched around 0430, turtleboy and GrantW (you must get a callsign/nickname, Grant) having been delayed somewhat at Grant’s surprise birthday party the previous night. Gemini and jimbo opted to travel to Little Halls Reef while the remainder of us, led by windy, headed for Jew Shoal.

We’d just set out when Gemini came up on the radio and announced he was hooked up, trolling. At the time I figured he was at shark central, near the river mouth, but nevertheless I deviated west just in case he’d come across a patch of feeding tuna or mackerel instead of the probable shark. With his quick confirmation that he’d caught and boated a small shark (and therefore had bagged out on sharks) I turned again for Jew Shoal.

The morning was sultry and calm, already hinting of the hot northerly winds to come. Here’s the scene from my armchair ride position.

0455hrs. Looking west

0512hrs. Looking east, with beejay centred

Figuring that there would possibly be a NW breeze, as the DIP live weather indicator had shown at 4:00am, I headed initially for the western edge of Jew Shoal, intent on drift fishing for snapper if there were no pelagics evident. Not only were there no pelagics, but also there was no significant breeze so there was no point in deploying my drogue when I started drift fishing around 05:30. Soon however the GPS told me that we were drifting east, so I was being carried across just the territory I hoped I would be. Now, would there be any fish biting? Or would it be just like the previous several trips with little or no action?

Quite quickly I had a partial answer, at least. My SP was clobbered as it drifted along near the bottom in around 17m depth. Shortly I had a keeper in the boat.

0540hrs. It’s nice to get a keeper in the boat so quickly.

The very next cast I hooked and released a juvenile black-tipped cod. Clearly things were different today than on several recent trips where I couldn’t even attract a bite from the reef ooglies. Jaro was fishing nearby with pilchard and prawn baits and soon reported bites also, and then a really nice (probable Noosa Yakkers Record) grass sweetlip.

Windy and I were keeping an eye out for pelagics as we drifted along and before long the unmistakeable white splashes appeared under a flock of terns to the east. This action, as is typical, lasted only a couple of minutes before fading away. But at least we knew that there were some predators around. Then a bust-up happened just behind me. My attention was drawn to it because I could hear the splashes. Things were warming up so I started to swap my SP for a metal slug just as windy announced that there was another bust up just to the north of us and thus behind me. This was too much for windy who set off in pursuit, pedalling his Hobie furiously while holding his casting outfit in his right hand. I was also approaching the feeding fish, somewhat slower than windy and saw him cast and yell as he hooked up immediately. By now I could see individual fish jumping and could identify them as small yellowfin tuna but as soon as I readied a cast the feeding frenzy ceased.

This gave me the opportunity to hang around windy who was fighting his first ever tuna with a huge smile on his face and saying stuff like “AWEsome!”

0720hrs. Windy had never gaffed a fish before, apparently, so he was sweating with this, his first tuna.

Windy bags his first tuna. Very unusual for a first to be a YFT instead of a mac tuna! May there be many more with Noosa Yakkers.

By now we'd been joined by turtleboy and GrantW, with gemini also paddling into our patch from the western side of Laguna Bay. Windy’s success and the facts that the tuna could still be seen popping up from time to time, while the bottom fishing was pretty quiet, resulted in seven of us paddling north from Jew Shoal, trying (usually unsuccessfully) to get close enough to cast slugs to the fish. Despite this effort, no-one else achieved a hookup but it must be admitted that the casting opportunities were very limited. But it was so frustrating to see these magnificent little speedsters leaping from the water and not be able to challenge them.

Eventually, enthusiasm for the chase wavered, especially as the bustups became less common and further away to the north. Jaro and I returned to drift fishing with jaro achieving instant further success despite the increasing light levels.

All of this time we’d been tracking jimbo’s progress to the west. He’d gone from LH Reef, where he’d bagged a small sweetlip, to Halls Reef and there met maverick, one of our Noosa Yakkers who now has a stinky and was using it today to get a feed of sweetlip. Jimbo eventually decided, around 0830, to head off back to Middle Groyne, a 5km or so paddle from Halls Reef.

Gradually the rest of us at Jew Shoal decided to head back too, knowing that the air temperature was likely to rise to uncomfortable levels in the absence of a cooling breeze. Jaro was the last to leave, and he left them biting, getting quite a bit of action between 0830 and 0900. Perhaps jaro will give us a little more info about the details of his catch?

The return paddle/pedal was undertaken in very hot conditions with sweat pouring off me, at least, due to the high relative humidity and the lack of cooling breeze. No problems were encountered at the last stage as it was now high tide and there was no surf zone in the channel close to the wall. All were on the beach by 1015, with beejay being the tail-end charlie.

Here most of us plunged into the sea to cool off. It’s a great place to finish a yak fishing trip on a hot day. Any day, come to think of it. Grant’s family were present to welcome him home and make sure he didn’t stack it in the surf again.

Elouise, GrantW’s daughter, volunteered to pose with windy’s YFT.

Gemini’s shark, one less to hassle us as we troll the bay and good food for gemini’s family (Reminder: possession limit 1, max size 1.5m)

Jaro’s grass sweetlip, 47cm, breaking his own record in the new Noosa Yakkers Record Fish List, providing he applies to the recorder as required by the rules.

Another fun day yakkers, even though the fish were scarce. Thanks for coming along.

1 comment:

  1. Well done Windy!

    My arms are certainly telling me I paddled the better part of 20KM today. Great day out though!