Swell: 1m ESE
Water temp: 24°C
Current: at Jew Shoal, NW to SE, pretty quick
Launch point: Middle Groyne
Participants: pedro, sunshiner
Although pedro had announced by email last night his intention to pedal today, I didn't make up my mind to go until this morning, although I was all prepped last night. Glad I went.
With rain threatening, the Middle Groyne car park was understandably near empty. As pedro, the only other parker, had got there first he had my (and his) favourite spot. No problem, the backup was available.
Easy launch, turn on new fish finder (more later), works, bewdy! Start paddling after pedro who doesn't know I'm here and hasn't turned his radio on. He's heading for Little Halls Reef and as he goes he keeps catching sharks (so he tells me later) which slows him down so I eventually get close enough to yell out to him in the dead calm and quiet conditions. Radio contact established, we push on together toward Little Halls Reef encountering a brief mac tuna bust up or two along the way.
Pedro thought he'd have a go at picking up a few live baits at Little Halls Reef but I change course for Jew Shoal, snapper on my mind. No action all the way there (trolling HLP) except for one of those largish yellow coloured sharks which we sometimes encounter lounging near the surface. Oh, and a couple of dolphins. No flying fish, though, which is strange as there were plenty last Saturday.
I went straight for the Pinnacles, noting a few patches of bait once I was over the shoal. Once in the shallows, however, there were lots of shows on the sounder.
On one of my oldest T shirts is printed: "The secret to fishing: fish where the fish are" so I generally try to do that. In this case I was pretty sure there should be some predators around so manoeuvered into a drift to fish the general area which had been the source of the image above. Almost no wind, however, but I chose a spot to start, retrieved my HLP and changed rigs on my snapper stick (which doubles as a slug caster) to bring it back into action as my SP stick. In shallow water such as this I always use only the one rod as snagging is a definite hazard. I cast the SP (1/8oz, 100mm Squidgee) out as far as I can and slow count it down, working on a descent rate of about 1m per long second. So 12m depth, slow count to 12 before interrupting the fall, then gradually hopping the lure back to the yak. First cast; the lure has progressed so it's hanging almost vertical from the rod tip. I give it another jiggle and the strike almost takes my breath away. Snapper can hit like a punch from nowhere and this one follows the initial strike with a screaming deep-down run. At this stage if your drag is set too heavily you'll likely get busted. Mine is set a little lightly but enough to provide some pressure on the fish. This was a typical snapper strike and I was loving the feel of it. A few runs and then I was steadily getting line back on the spool. The water was very clear, although the leaden sky was reducing the amount of light available. Don't you just love that first sight of a beaten snapper as it comes to the yak? I've had a sparse year on the snapper this year and this was clearly my biggest for 2013 so far. Not huge, but bloody nice.
One quick gaff shot and she was in the hatch accompanied by my !YeeHah! which pedro probably heard 2km away, on his way to Jew Shoal. It was deathly quiet out there, with only the distant roar of the surf as deep background.
Now I could relax; the pressure was off. It'd be nice to head home with a decent fish for a change.
Pedro, aware of my catch, was by now coming on to the edge of the shoal to the SW, and soon deployed a floating bait which went off pretty quickly, but the fish spat the hook. He and I had the place to ourselves and every now and again there was a brief flurry of terns and fish somewhere within view. I stuck with my drift fishing with SPs and noticed that there was a pretty strong current pushing from NW to SE. Perhaps this strong current was the leading edge of the new water coming from up north and the fish were arriving on the front of it. In any case, things were looking up, especially when pedro reported that a sizable Spaniard had launched itself, missile-like, as they do, three metres into the air nearby. Smaller tuna could be seen from time to time busting up at all points of the compass.
Things were really looking up a little later. I had repositioned myself back at the Pinnacles, ready to do one more drift. Having trolled back to this position, I started to retrieve the HLP in order to get it out of the way while drift fishing. Part way through the retrieve it was slammed. Didn't feel like a snapper; perhaps a jewie (the water was quite shallow)? Then deep down I could see the unmistakeable stripes; a Spaniard, not big but probably a keeper.
My gaff is 75cm long so is an aide to judging the length of fish while they're still in the water. I could see that this fish was over 75cm so very soon he was in the hatch. My first Spaniard of the season and the smallest keeper I have ever boated!
By now pedro was really fired up and then panno arrived in his stinky, pointing to the horizon to the NW. I just pointed to my hatch with a thumbs-up. Where panno was pointing a large flock of terns was wheeling around with lots of splashing underneath them. This was a fair way from where pedro was fishing and after a while the action dissipated, as it often does. Then, very quickly, large splashes appeared around pedro and I could see him firing off casts at the fish which were large and clearly visible and confirmed by pedro to be longtails. He hooked up at least once but again the hooks pulled.
It was raining gently by now with just a very light breeze. With two fish in the hatch I decided to head in, leaving pedro behind, determined to not go in "until I catch a fish". I'll be surprised if he doesn't.
The break had kicked up a bit at Middle Groyne as the tide was now low compared with high at launch, but no serious problem getting in although I did need to brace as the bow got a little out of line when we were run down by the fifth wave in a set.
Some pics on the beach (no fish holders, due to rain and no sun).
Author Kayak Fishing Manual for iPad and Mac (click linked text to view)
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