Surf and snapper, vid, 18Jul12

TR by sunshiner with contribution from mangrove-mac at the end

Wind: Southerly, but calm inside the Bay. Blew up to about 8 knots from south at Jew Shoal.
Swell: 2m easterly
Current: at Jew Shoal, none detected
Launch point: Middle Groyne
Participants: pedro, jag-one, jaro, sunshiner
Water quality: Clean at Jew Shoal

Having endured two weeks straight of foul weather we were understandably anxious to get out today, forecast light winds, even though the forecast swell at Middle Groyne was 2m from the east. The main reason we were keen to get out was that the forecast also showed little opportunity for the next seven days. Desperation levels were off the scale.

A dawn start was planned, with the proviso that rain or unfavourable winds at dawn might cause our organizer, Jaro, and others to stay in bed instead. In the event, it was raining at 5:00am, and 6:00, and 7:00 with more approaching on the Mt Kanigan radar. Jag-one travels from Gympie, around 90 minutes from launch, and eventually he decided that he was coming to Noosa anyway, with a planned launch time of 10:00. Jaro and I, noting an improvement in the local weather conditions, agreed that we’d also launch later, as close as we reasonably could to jag-one’s nominated launch time.

Meanwhile pedro, bullet proof as he is, had launched anyway, in showers, at around 6:00am. But he is a 50 year old youngster after all!

And so it happened that I rolled into the damp carpark at around 10:30 and immediately recognized the only two people hanging about there. Richmond, who was unable to launch today, had brought his camera down hoping to get some pics of us coming back in, while jag-one was finalizing launch preparations. Jaro, out of sight, was already on the beach with his yak. Richmond changed his plans and opted to get some pics of us launching, and made his way out to a good vantage point on the end of the groyne. Without even a cursory look at the conditions I started to unload my yak.

By the time I got down to the beach, about ten minutes later, jaro and jag-one were lined up in the channel, waiting for an opportunity to get out through the break.

Pic by richmond

Pic by richmond

The long awaited break in the sets came and jaro and jag-one took the opportunity to go.

Pic by richmond

I was waiting and watching on the beach, ready to launch, or not. Now that they had got out OK, I knew I couldn’t turn around and go home. There were some sizeable waves dropping onto the sandbank and a photographer on the wall. My turn! All I had to do was time my arrival in the break zone properly.

Fortunately a lull arrived just after I boarded and so had an easy time of it compared with my two companions, getting out very quickly and almost completely dry.

Pic by richmond

And so we headed for Jew Shoal, where pedro had been fishing for several hours already and had caught a couple of fish, including a mac tuna which took a 190mm HB lure just as he arrived at the shoal early this morning.

My course was set for the eastern end of the shoal because I was pretty sure that the breeze out there would be from the east. Jaro and jag-one went further toward the west. Travelling was easy as the wind was light and there was no chop but the swell got more apparent the closer I got to Jew Shoal.

On arrival at Jew Shoal, SE of The Pinnacles at around 11:45, I encountered pedro and he confirmed that he’d boated three snapper in this shallow area (around 15m) so I opted to try a drift there in the hope of emulating his success. After a couple of casts there with my SP rig I decided that it was a little shallow and snaggy for me so opted to head for deeper water which I knew to be just a little further east.

This move brought almost instantaneous results. I was drift fishing in 20m using only my 6kg threadline casting outfit, as I often do, rigged with a 1/8 ounce jighead loaded with a 100mm SP (pic later). The SP had slowly descended so that the kayak had drifted directly over the top of it as the jig sank. There was a quick strike and at first I thought it was an average keeper snapper. But I quickly changed my mind as the fish took line and thumped away. Snapper like this can be easily worn down. There’s no need to apply maximum pressure; just keep working away steadily at the fish, retrieving line as the opportunity arises and letting it run when necessary. In a few minutes the snapper was lying beaten next to the yak, the gaff did its job and the fish was in the fish box. A nice fish, near 70cm and the sort of fish that would make anyone’s day better.

There’s the jig inside its mouth.

Safely in the fishbox of the Stealth. Later it measured 68 cm.

The SP and jighead which did the trick. Note the snapper teeth marks on the lead head.

As I said to pedro who paddled over to take a look, I could have gone home right now, quite happy with my day. I’d only been fishing a few minutes.

As it turned out, that was my only action, fish wise, for the day. I was not to know that, of course, so kept trying, and hoping for more.

Pedro, meanwhile, was occasionally adding to his score. At one stage he got a snapper double header and jaro was nearby to take a pic.

Pic by jaro (time not set accurately)

Rain was all around us but we didn’t have heavy rain on us; once or twice light showers scudded across, but that’s all. But the visual results were interesting.

That’s jag-one in the foreground; pedro behind.

Noosa Head being masked by a heavy shower.

I think it was pedro who first raised the question of heading home, about seven hours after he’d launched. Jaro was keen to avoid the effects of the 13:15 low tide on the beach and its swell. Reasonable, we thought, so the move back didn’t start till close to 14:30, when we all headed back pretty much together.

From a couple of kilometres out we could tell that the beach return was probably going to be challenging. The tide was still low and the waves were hollowing out and dropping with a crash about 20m out from the end of the groyne. Nowhere else along the beach, except perhaps for Coward's Corner, offered a better option. At least with Middle Groyne you just have to run that 20-30m to get to safety. It’s all in the timing, as usual.

Pedro was ready to go first and Jaro and I soon afterward. The three of us, however, hung back like mice about to run past a scary cat, trying to judge the best time to go. We couldn’t hold too close to the end of the wall because the larger waves were steepening and breaking much further out than usual. I turned chest cam on and was about to go when Jaro shot through from behind me and launched himself at the sand monster in a truly great sacrifice. What happened? Well you’ll just have to watch the movie (1:11, embedded below).

Pedro and I hit the beach together, right way up and looked back on a scene of desolation. And as we watched Jaro work his way back to the shore jag-one decided to go and was also gobbled up by the sand monster. I didn’t have the heart to film it but here he is eventually getting back to shore.

Some beach pics (no fish holders available, due to the foul weather). I apologise for the water droplets on the lens but it was very wet and raining also:

The main part of pedro’s catch, including another snapper bag limit.

Me with my snapper, 68cm.

Another great Noosa Yakkers fishing expedition. Thanks for coming along guys and thanks for reading.

Contribution from mangrove-mac, received 20Jul12

[Note from editor: New Noosa Yakker Greg (nickname mangrove-mac) didn’t email us, declaring his intentions, otherwise he would have been included in the emails between the known participants which started around 4:00am. As I’ve already mentioned to him, usually our arrangements proceed as announced the day before but sometimes it’s necessary to make changes at very short notice. To be in the loop for the late changes we need to know that you are a probable starter.]

Well I didn't tell everyone that I would probably be going on Wednesday as I actually was sick with a cold and I wasn't sure if I'd be up to going. I didn't want anyone waiting for me unnecessarily so I resolved to simply turn up on time. I arrived at the car park expecting to see lots of kayak people and only found a white Mercedes van (Ed: pedro’s second best car) parked in a good spot. I parked my Pajero and with a torch went down to MG. First light was at 5:50. The mystery kayaker (pedro) was skilfully manoeuvering in the channel waiting for the lull between sets. Before long he went out and made it look easy. I don't have a radio yet so unfortunately couldn't call him. And I forgot to put Geoff's (jag-one) phone number in my phone so was unable to contact him. I met Geoff, also a Gympie-ite, recently and he showed me his kayak setup.

I decided to get my kayak ready and hoped one or two others might have decided to brave the bleak conditions, at least it wasn't cold! By 6:45 I was at the water’s edge and decided to go anyway since all my gear was stowed and life jacket on. I copied the mystery kayaker; it was very hard to pick the sets but there seemed to be a lull so I went for it! Going over a couple of small waves, I was past the end of the groyne with hardly a drop on me. I could hardly believe my luck. I began to relax thinking I was past the break. Suddenly a large swell began to loom and was going to break further out than the others... on top of me! I started to paddle urgently again and just managed to punch through the wave. I worried about being washed off but the seat held, I was drenched, the trusty Espri resembled a bath tub (at least I was still sitting in it) and it took a minute for all the water to drain out. I let out a whoop and punched the air with the paddle. [Ed: well done mangrove-mac]

Having no radio or GPS I decided to stick to the coastline to find some sheltered spot to fish around the National Park but I only got as far as the NP car park when I realised I was way too low on energy and besides the large splashes of spray on the distant headland indicated little shelter so I decided to head back.

Back at MG (about 7:45) I dreaded the prospect of going back in. Very hard to pick the right time to go again. Didn't want to scratch the kayak on the rocks so came in 20 metres away from MG, got lucky again and was carried in by three surging waves. Certainly got my heart rate up. [Ed: well done again, mangrove-mac]

I was soaked and cold but felt happy with the Espri's first sea trial. Next trip hopefully I'll meet some more of the NY crew, won't have a cold and might catch some fish as a bonus.

Cheers for now, Greg (mangrove-mac)

1 comment:

  1. Greg, As I read your report about re-entry nerves I relate well. My first trip off noosa was through some big swell and surf on low tide . I dreaded the re-entry. I consudered doing a dismount, hold onto the back of the yak and get towed in that way. In big surf I think this us the safest if a dumping wave could prove dangerous. Good report all. Iain.