JS getting better, 07Jan12

TR by sunshiner

Wind: calm inside the bay, then SE to about 10 knots at Jew Shoal
Swell: low ENE
Current: none at Jew Shoal
Launch point: Middle Groyne
Participants: jaro, sunshiner, bigkev, andy-cav, carlo

Third day out of four for me today and I'd yet to hook a fish in 2012... Today HAD to be different.

At 0345, wakey time, Seabreeze was indicating 10-15 knot SE at DIP so I reckoned Jew Shoal would be breezy, but not too bad, so it was go.

Launch today was easy, so before long jaro, bigkev and I were headed NE into the small chop generated by the SE breeze wrapping around the headland. The SE breeze cut in at full strength quite quickly when we left the shelter provided by the headland and the chop and swell quickly combined into a sloppy SE sea with very occasional whitecaps.

Anticipating the SE wind, I'd headed from Middle Groyne directly toward the SE corner of Jew Shoal, intending to drift NW across the shoal in search of snapper unless feeding pelagics were present (which they weren't). My first cast was at about 0525, the breeze helping me to cast the 1/8th ounce jig and almost weightless SP a good distance downdrift.

0529hrs. Sea conditions as seen from my yak, looking east, camera held down near water surface.

Even though the drift was pretty quick I'd made up my mind today to stick with the light gear, essentially exactly copying the technique described in this blog "Snapper on SPs", which was written about five years ago. I also wanted to try out a new SP at the request of a friend, who imports them. And, as I often do, I fished with only one rod, giving it my full attention.

The combination of light jighead, buoyant SP and 6kg braid made the rig sink v-e-r-y slowly, so much of the time after a cast I was watching loose line lying on the surface as the jig descended. Nevertheless, the jig was getting down to 18m OK, as I could confirm with a brief hangup on the reef at that depth on the second or third cast. By the time the yak was directly above the sinking jig the jig was pretty close to maximum depth and before long I had the first take and retrieved this beastie.

0535hrs. Yellow emperor. Do not kiss or lick this fish, or lick your fingers after handling it, as it is believed capable of secreting toxins under stress. More here.

Five minutes later the jig got hit again, this time with a more valued fish.

0540hrs. My first snapper for 2012 (41cm).

A quick radio call made sure that the other Noosa Yakkers out there knew that the snapper might be around and biting.

I noticed today that the water seemed a lot clearer than it was last Wednesday, the first calm day after the big blow, and it also seemed more fishy. Very noticeable were flying fish, up to 75mm long, many of which became airborne in my path as I pounded upwind against the chop when resetting my drift. These fish are wonderfully graceful as they leave the water in an upwind orientation (probably to get airborne as quickly as possible, like aircraft), then curve off to one side while flying (actually gliding), presumably to confuse predators. One I saw travelled an estimated 30m in the air before returning to its normal environment.

At some stage soon after bagging the snapper I noticed a patch of a couple of dozen terns milling around in a SW direction, about 500m away. Shortly afterward bigkev reported that he could see large splashes under the terns whose behaviour had now changed to being focussed on and close to the water’s surface. I was tempted to change rigs and paddle over but opted to wait until the action stabilized into continuous feeding. Sure enough, in a few minutes the terns had dispersed and no sign of the activity remained. It was about now that andy-cav turned up, having left Middle Groyne quite a bit later than we did.

Andy_cav and aircon hat

Jaro, meanwhile, had been feeding the sharks on pilchards and some baby snapper on banana prawns. No one else was reporting any action. But Jew Shoal now had a fishy feel about it, with the clean water, the flying fish and one snapper in the bag. Then jaro came up announcing that he had a keeper snapper in the boat (later measured at 45cm).

It was just over an hour between snapper for me. The next one fought much harder than the first so I was surprised to find that it was the same size.

0652hrs. Snapper #2. Note snapper teeth marks on the jighead. The SP is one of the "Gastronomic Bait" series, 3.5 inches long, made in Japan, also used by richmond in capturing that yellowfin tuna a couple of weeks back.

I fish with this casting rod held in my hand so can sense any bump or take immediately and react accordingly. The important thing with a rig like this is to make sure your drag is smooth and properly set as the take is often sudden and always unexpected. Note also that the jig can be taken at any time after it hits the water.

I rely heavily on my GPS to show me where I am on the shoal, especially the Tracks page. Returning to the start of a successful drift is easy -- all you need to do is paddle back up the present drift line (it helps if you clear old tracks from time to time). Also marking a waypoint where you catch a fish is useful for returning to the exact capture place.

Jaro and I had previously agreed that, because we intended to fish tomorrow, we'd return home early unless exceptional reasons held us out there. So by 8:00am we'd agreed to head back and it was only now that I became aware that carlo was out there with us (I spotted his rig and called him on the radio to confirm).

Andy-cav and I headed off directly for Middle Groyne while jaro, getting his money’s worth out of his sail, headed for Granite Bay which would then place him upwind of Middle Groyne.

We three arrived at Middle Groyne within a couple of minutes of each other, proof once more that jaro’s sail, once deployed, gives him a very good average speed so I reckon I'll ask for a tow next time we come back from JS in a NE breeze.

Richmond was waiting for us on the beach, touting for Noosa Yakkers Record Fish claims (none today, unfortunately). And shortly behind the first three came carlo and bigkev.

Thanks for coming along guys. Who’s up for another run tomorrow?

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