Snapper, sweetie, bonitos. 31Oct14

TR by sunshiner

Wind: calm, with the expected gentle northerly arriving around 0900
Swell: 1m SE
Water temp: 23.9°C
Current: at Jew Shoal, from west to east
Launch point: Middle Groyne
Participants: tunny, diesel, josh, sunshiner
Keen Angler Program: Frame donated by me

Perfect conditions, dead easy launch. Diesel scored another undersize schoolie mack as soon as he dropped a lure out after launch. It turned out that I did too, as I discovered when I got to Jew Shoal. The relocated fish swam off strongly, to my surprise.

Tunny was trying out his new sounder fit out, which I must say looks unlike other yak sounder arrangements I've seen. Maybe he'll tell us about it once he's happy with the setup.

I tried the hot spot on the SE corner of the shoal only to find no bait there. This was generally the situation all over, except at the shallows near The Pinnacles, where the butter bream were swimming around with their backs exposed to the rising sun. This was quite a spectacle and they were easily approached by kayak without mass panic.

As I found out later, diesel again hooked up a bonito as soon as he arrived (more about this later). We were all fishing by just before 5:30am and the first fish I saw taken was an undersize yellowtail king, by tunny, probably around 06:30, on a cast quarter ounce SP.

Tunny's pic of his small kingy

Then tunny announced another undersized kingie, echoed by diesel, around 7:00am, followed by tunny again reporting a snapper of around 40cm. This capture, just NE of The Pinnacles in 20m (tunny can now tell the depth of his catches), gave me hope that I might get a snapper as so far I hadn't had a touch. The fairly strong current was carrying us east in calm conditions so I set up my drift to pass through the same area as tunny had been in the hope that I too would pick up a fish. This strategy worked for at 07:15, also in about 20m, my SP was picked up about 10m down in 20m depth.

Third snapper in three trips. 47cm. On a roll!

Sometime after this josh must have caught his nice grassie (on organic chicken; yes chicken) because he had one at brag time on the beach (pic later).

Things went quiet, and even calmer, soporific even. About 08:30 a barely perceptible northerly turned our drifting yaks through 180° and we continued to fish without further success until about 9:00am when I suggested we head for the beach. Josh had left earlier and my two remaining companions agreed to head for home.

As usual, I hung out my HLP for the return paddle and was just getting into the swing of things when the trolling reel screamed. I was still over the shoal so I thought "maybe a snapper", but the vibrations I felt once I picked up the rod had me thinking mac tuna. But no, it was a big Australian bonito, and, I thought, probably a new Noosa Yakkers record. It just so happens that my daughter-in-law, Lee, who loves oily fish, is visiting this weekend and bonito are very palatable and not red fleshed so a double reason to keep the fish.

Australian bonito. A small pelagic which punches way above its weight.

Mouth, edged with small pointy teeth, an aid to identification.

The beach return was as easy as it gets. Some beach pics:

The combined take home catch. Here was I thinking my bonito was a possible Noosa Yakkers record, but diesel trumped it with his which was even bigger. As it turned out, both were bigger than the current record, held by lazybugger at 51cm. Josh delayed his return to the beach by hanging around the shark nets and finding some yakkas, hence the small yellowtail on the mat.

My companions for today: from left, josh, tunny holding both my snapper and his, and diesel holding both my and his bonitos

Another beautiful Laguna Bay morning. Had a dip afterward. Perfect! Thanks for coming along, guys.

Prospects look slim for the next week but I'll be out there at the next possible opportunity.

Kev Long
Author Kayak Fishing Manual for iPad and Mac (click linked text to view)
Stealth Supalite X, yellow/orange

Short and very sweet. 29Oct14

TR by sunshiner

Wind: calm early, expected southerly arriving about 7:00am
Swell: 1m+ NE
Water temp: 23.9°C
Current: at Jew Shoal, none detected
Launch point: Middle Groyne
Participants: weeksie, sunshiner
Keen Angler Program: Frame donated

So I was first yakker on the beach this cloudy morning.

As you can see the channel is partly reformed. This was at low tide.

Sloppy launch, with the NE swell pushing sets of small high frequency waves into the launch point. Never mind, a wet bum in 24°C water is no big deal.

On turning on the sounder while setting up, I noticed that there were numerous echos from life forms occupying the entire water column; it was busy below me. Surface was glassy, no splashes.

Paddled out, all alone, not even a stinkie in view. Still glassy, so glassy that my wake was visible as a track of bubbles going back a hundred metres or so. But I was aware that a southerly was expected and that it would come in suddenly, some time in the morning.

Sea Breeze forecast graph, with the spike arrowed.

Jew Shoal is not a pleasant place in a stiff southerly, or a stiff wind from any direction, actually. But a southerly means a tough paddle home. Be warned. I had already resolved to head for home at the first puff of the southerly, but had no idea exactly when it would arrive.

It was 0540. I was on the shoal. Water looked dark, but the sounder was lit up with life forms. It felt fishy!

Popped out the trailing outfit down at 10m, then started casting with the light rig in 15-20m. Drogue hanging loose in the water, but a tiny ESE breeze was moving me very slowly, lots of stuff on the sounder. No one else around and then I detect colour and movement peripherally. It's weeksie, whose radio, as I later discover, is not transmitting today (battery charge problem). He can hear me, but not respond. He paddles over to say g'day just as I hook up on a perfect bait-sized pike, destined for my freezer-based rigged bait collection.

Weeksie has to go back to work so is only around for a quick couple of trolling laps before heading in. Off he disappears behind me on his first lap and I lay out another cast after stowing Mr Pike. The 4gm jig splashes down gently, about 25m away and starts its gravity-propelled swim downward. It doesn't get far, about 2m in fact. God, I love this kayak fishing! Bump, bump, screaming reel, rod tip bouncing around; I've felt every tick, flick and surge right from the pickup. Got the ocean all to myself, except for my mate weeksie of course, whom I now call on the radio telling him I reckon I've got a nice snapper on. While playing the fish I hear weeksie's paddle splashes as he heads back to me.

Yep, a snapper, over 50cm, as I suspected. It's a beautiful sight in the pale light, starkly coloured against a dark background of deep water. I reckon I'll never tire of the thrill at that first view of a snapper as it surges into view below the yak. I feel sorry for fishos who don't use a kayak. No I don't!

Weeksie takes a front row seat as the gaff pins the snap and I haul it aboard and into the open hatch. He has his camera, so weeksie takes a pic of me and my catch. Thanks mate. Then he paddles off for another lap before heading for the groyne.

Just in case, I take a pic too.

57cm snapper. Worth getting out of bed early for.

So I've been drift fishing half an hour by now. But soon afterward I feel the first puffs of a freshening southerly breeze and remember my promise to myself to leave for home as soon as the breeze arrives. In the meantime a very large pike takes the jig, almost the next cast after the snapper. This fish is too big for a bait and self releases as I lay it on the hatch cover for a pic.

As I paddle back toward Middle Groyne the breeze freshens, as you can see from the above, which would have happened a little later at DIP than Jew Shoal.

That swell is still kicking up at Middle Groyne when I arrive. But this time I'm going with it and to cap off an already perfect morning we (my boat and I) pick up a shapely little mid size wave and ride it all the way to the sand. Doesn't get any better than this. And tomorrow's another day and it'll be here again. And yes, I love kayak fishing.

So who's coming out tomorrow, and Friday?

Kev Long
Author Kayak Fishing Manual for iPad and Mac (click linked text to view)
Stealth Supalite X, yellow/orange

Persistence pays off. 24Oct14

TR by sunshiner

Wind: gentle SW early, dropping to calm by 0900
Swell: 1m ESE
Water temp: 23°C
Current: at Jew Shoal, none
Launch point: Middle Groyne
Participants: jaro, jimbo, tunny, diesel, sunshiner
Keen Angler Program: Frame donated

All five of us turned up and launched over a period of about 30 minutes, with the last to launch, jaro, being on the water by 0500, just as the sun could be seen peeping over the horizon. Although the swell was dropping, the tide state and the sand bank right at the end of the groyne made for some pretty big breaking waves, certainly big enough to stop a kayak dead if caught. Good timing was needed and everyone got through OK.

All went to Jew Shoal except jimbo, who headed for A-Bay Reef. In front was diesel, who called me up for a fish ID as soon as he arrived. It turned out that an Australian bonito (55cm) had grabbed his trolled hardbody on arrival. This was the first bonito he'd seen, so another new species was added to his quite lengthy list. As usual on arrival I searched for patches of baitfish on the sounder but could find none, except the usual butter bream and similar which hang in the shallowest section, just SW of The Pinnacles. There were no signs of surface activity; understandable, really, given the lack of baitfish.

So we at Jew Shoal spread out, each doing his own thing. Jaro was baitfishing in the deeps to the north while diesel had a bet each way and mainly hung around The Pinnacles. Tunny and I fished solely with soft plastics, mostly drifting initially to the north and east of The Pinnacles, using the light SW breeze to push us across that part of the shoal.

My first casts with the SP were just before 0600 and I was hopeful that I'd nab a snapper as it was about time they showed up. But as time went on without even a touch I started to wonder…

Jimbo first got our spirits up, I think, probably around 0645. He'd boated a "nice sweetie" out at A-Bay reef, a fair way from Jew Shoal, but at least he was on the board. Then jaro by radio asked the minimum size limit for grassies (30cm). He'd boated a 31cm model and as Carolyn, his better half, loves fish and hadn't had a fresh fish meal in ages, he decided to keep it for the table.

As for me, I'd had a couple of half-hearted hookups from little tackers but nothing else. It looked like being a quiet day, and we've had a lot of these in the last few months.

To maximise my chances, I was both casting a lightly weighted SP, letting it sink gradually before jigging it back to the yak, and also running a second rod, held in the stern rod holder, carrying a SP on a heavier jighead which trailed behind me, 10m down. I can tell it's at that depth because I run a dark coloured 10m mono leader at the end of the light coloured braid on that outfit. All I have to do is settle the highly visible leader knot at or near the surface and I'm assured that the rig won't snag, as long as the depth is greater than 10m, which it mostly is, at Jew Shoal.

Time: 0715. My turn for some action. I'm in 19 metres depth. Just as diesel was paddling over to me to say hello we both heard the ratchet of my trailing outfit scream. What a lovely sound. The sight of the severely bent rod is pretty good too. For very good reasons I set the drag on the trailing outfit very light: (1) Too tight, and the yak might be rolled as the rod is pointing out at 45° from the yak horizontal axis (2) Too tight and I can't get the rod out of the rod holder, at arm's length behind me.

Thump, thump, on the rod. It's in my hand now and I call it for a snapper. Bewdy! Crank up the drag. Yep, it's almost certainly a snapper, SP taken 9 metres above the bottom. Thump, thump! Then I spot my fish. A nice grass sweetlip. Surprise, surprise! Welcome surprise, though! Several times I have heard of grassies taking shallow running trolled HB lures in relatively deep water (both tarzan and eyetag have told me this), but all grassies I have hooked before this one have been very close to the bottom.

Grass sweetlip (aka grass emperor), 43cm. Delicious and a hard fighter. Noosa Yakkers record: 63cm.

It's always a relief to get on the board and this capture perked me up considerably. Besides, my wife Mary prefers grassies to snapper when it comes to eating them. It's a while since I've been able to bring a grassie home.

Things go quiet for an hour or so. Jaro gets another small grassy (kept) and I remark on the radio that I'm surprised that no snapper have turned up, it's all grassies. It must have been around 0845 when jaro announced that he'd just caught and released an undersized snapper. Shortly afterward diesel reports that he's boated a 40cm or so snapper and shortly after him jaro reports a small but keeper snapper too. "Suddenly they're biting!" says jaro.

By now, 0900, I've moved into the southern part of the shoal, an area I rarely fish, for no particular reason. Here, to the east, there's a shallow patch of 12m or so, gradually dropping to 18-20m further west. It's dead calm, so no drift. My cast SP is hanging vertically below near the bottom at 20m impaled on a skinny hook with a 1/8 ounce weighted head. My usual procedure in this situation is to "bounce" the jig around near the bottom. I'm hoping for a snapper, but jetlag (I was in London this time last week) and boredom are taking their toll and I even contemplated heading home around 0900 after three hours of fishing for only one fish.

One second I'm a dozy automaton mechanically lifting the rod occasionally, the next I'm fully alive. This was a typical snapper strike. A whack from nowhere and a high speed straight run. There's no need to try to turn snapper; just let them run; don't be tempted to crank up the drag; just apply gentle pressure and stay cool. The fish will slow eventually, and you'll be in control as long as you have sufficient line in reserve. After what seems an age, the fish has stopped taking line and I can feel the thumps which indicate a pretty decent fish. The spool is filling again as line is won back. Then I see the leader, but the fish is directly below the yak and out of my view until the last couple of seconds when it comes to the surface, exhausted. Beautiful fish, big and handsome and pink and silver. The gaff does its job and it's in the hatch. Yee-hah!

I initially over-estimated its size as around 70cm. It subsequently went 65cm.

Once the photo session was over I chucked the rig out again after tidying it up a little and almost immediately had another similar strike but the hook pulled as I think it may have been over stressed from the first fight. I wasn't too disappointed as I was very satisfied with my catch anyway. The remarkable thing was that the snapper had come on the bite all over the shoal at around the same time. We'd had no snapper action at all before 0845 then four or five snapper hits in the next 30 minutes over a wide area.

Around 10:30 we returned to the beach fairly close together, including jimbo from A-Bay Reef and as usual attracted some attention from the few beach goers present.

Some beach pics

Two ladies from Sydney were delighted to be photographed.

Some of the combined catch. Jaro opted not to include his two small sweetlip and an OK snapper.

Your scribe, very happy with today's catch.

Kev Long
Author Kayak Fishing Manual for iPad and Mac (click linked text to view)
Stealth Supalite X, yellow/orange

A Couple of Keepers - 16Oct14

TR by Jimbo
Launch Point: Middle Groyne.
Conditions: Clear, sunny but cool early.
Wind: Cool westerly 5-8 knots initially, decreasing, then 5-8 knot southerly from 0845
Swell: 0.5 m
Current: None detected at Jew Sh
Participants: Pedro, Jimbo

Just a brief report, mainly for reconnaissance purposes for any NY considering going out tomorrow.

I realized Pedro was already out in the bay somewhere as his van was in his (Sunshiner's ??) normal spot in the car park when I arrived at 0450. Launch conditions were very easy with an almost non-existent easterly swell and just the odd wave breaking at the end of the groyne.

Conditions were ideal and so I started heading towards A-Bay, not having been there for some time. However, knowing Pedro probably launched at "0-Dark Hundred" and might already be there, I called him on the radio to determine his location and any success. Pedro reported that he was in fact at A-Bay Reef and had not registered a touch up until that time. At Dolphin Point I therefore changed course and headed for Jew Shoal.

Once at JS I went to my "far western mark" and set up a drift towards the Pinnacles, about 350m distant. I had only drifted about 100m when I had a good strike on my squid bait. I was fairly certain this was a snapper, and this was confirmed when I could just see the silver/pink flashes below me ... just before the hook pulled ... Bugger!! I re-baited the jighead and reset the drift to traverse the same spot. On the third pass I hooked up again and this time landed a nice ~40cm snapper. This was most welcome on two counts (a) this was the first fish I have caught for many months (apart from being overseas on holidays for five weeks in Aug-Sept), and (b), it suggested that maybe some snapper and sweetlip had at last come into the inner reefs accessible to NY, albeit fairly late in the normal winter season for bottom fishing.

I radioed my success to Pedro, and not to be outdone, Pedro reported he had also boated two sweetlip, a flathead and had thrown back a small snapper. We both agreed conditions were quite pleasant and we would continue on for a bit longer at our respective locations.

I repeated the W->E drift 3-4 times but had to change to a S->N drift towards the Pinnacles when the wind suddenly swung round to the south at 0845. However, other than a couple of reefies and three grinners, I did not land any more keepers.

By about 0945 I had run out of my squid bait, and with the southerly wind making conditions a bit lumpy, I decided to head in. At this time Pedro reported he had added (I think) another flathead and a large squid to his tally and would fish on for maybe another half hour.

The paddle back to MG was uneventful but pleasant, and the beach return still easy, it now being three hours after low tide. Maybe Pedro might add any other info to this report.


DeeCee does EMD 4Oct14

TR by DeeCee
Trip date: 4th October 2014
Participants: DeeCee
Launch Site:  Ewen Maddock Dam Launch Area
Destination:  Where the fish are
Conditions: Glassy early with a little cloud, Slight breeze later on, no current, sunny
Keen Angler Program: none

Arrived at Ewen Maddock Dam early, around 5.15am and was the only car in the car park. Put everything together and hit the water about 15mins later.  Headed along the northern edge towards Spot X for a quick surface flick before the sun got up too high.  Drifted along the edge of the weeds flicking the Popper when up on the sounder came some fish congregating on the bottom, switched over to a vibe and dropped it between them, a couple of lifts later a nice 26cm Bass was on, he fought hard but was boated a short time later, a quick pic and back he went...hung round there jigging for another 10 minutes or so with no more touches and decided to move on.

Switched to a hard body and trolled back along the northern edge, I'd nearly reached my turn around point when the rod bent over, fish on...this one took some line and was trying to get me in the timber, standard issue Bass dirty tactics...a short time later and a couple of tense moments fish was boated, a nice 31cm Bass, a quick pic and back he went.

Trolled back along the northern edge and then down the western side to pick up a nice fat 28cm Bass, this one went straight into the weed adding another couple of KG to the fight, landed in short time, quick pic and returned.

Entered one of the weedy bays on the western side so it was time to change to a Beetle Spin to try and mitigate the weed, first cast I was onto a fish, a short time later a 27cm Bass was boated, pic taken and fish returned...

One other small fish around 25cm landed before I pulled the pin around 9.15am, a gloriously peaceful morning with only a couple of other yakkers on the water



DeeCee does Maroochy River 5Oct14

TR by DeeCee
Trip date: 5th October 2014
Participants: DeeCee
Launch Site:  Old Bridge Yandina
Destination:  Maroochy River - North then South
Conditions: Glassy, tide going in then going out, little to no current, sunny
Keen Angler Program: none

Decided to hit the river today after hitting EMD yesterday, arrived and launched near the old bridge, tide was high so decided to head upstream and come back when the tide turned.  I paddled up river casting at every shaded snag or into every deep hole with no luck.  Had to get out a couple of times and drag the Prowler over some rocks, tide wasn't as high as it could be...seemed to be an awful lot of surface litter around.

Went up as far as I could be bothered casting at anything I thought may be hiding fish with no touches so decided it was time to turn around as I could see the tide had changed, a couple of trips over the rocks on the way back I arrived at my launch spot with no fish yet, decided to head south for a while and see if the luck changed, around the second corner the rod bent over and a fish was on, a short time later a flathead was landed, pic taken and returned to the water.  Paddled south for a couple of km's with no hits and needed to stretch my legs so pulled up the yak on a corner and did 10 minutes of land based flicking, a couple of hits but no hook ups was the result.

Headed back to the launch spot and packed it in around 10,00am