A Spaniard, Sharks & Police - Aust Day 26Jan15

TR by Jimbo

Wind: 5k NW early, 0-5k E-SE after 0730
Swell: 1.2m ESE
Tides: Low 0.63m 0623; High 1.70m 1231
Current: None detected at Nth Sunshine/A-Bay Rf
Launch Point: Middle Groyne.
Conditions: Partly clowdy, uncomfortably warm on return paddle.
Participants: Eyetag, Pedro, Redwood, Scat(t)er, Soren, Tunny, Whalebait, Jimbo.

The email traffic for the previous couple of days suggested there would be at least "half a football team" planning to launch on an ideal Australia Day public holiday morning. However, a couple of late withdrawals resulted in eight NY arriving at Middle Groyne carpark at around 0415, except for earlybirds Pedro and Eyetag, who had already launched by this time.

The remaining six of us all launched soon after daylight and in practically "dry bum" conditions around 0445. After setting up and establishing radio contact (except for Whalebait who was radioless) we set out for our chosen destinations as follows:
Pedro and Eyetag: Lt Halls/Halls Rf areas
Redwood, Tunny and Soren: Jew Shoal
Scater, Whailbait and Jimbo: Nth Sunshine/A-Bay Rf areas.

There is actually not a lot to report, other than 1-2 sharks being caught by all NY at all of the above locations, except for me (and Whalebait?). I managed to bag a Spaniard and a snapper at Nt Sunshine Rf. The following is a summary of what happened as best as I could determine by radio discussion throughout the morning:
Eyetag had a double hookup fairly early, both being sharks, one of which he kept (I think). Pedro or Eyetag also landed a keeper sweetlip. Tunny hooked a large hammerhead shark and after a long battle of 45+ minutes on his light gear, decided wisely (and legally) to cut the brute free after wrestling it to within a few metres of his yak, when he realized it was nearly half the length of his kayak. Redwood and Soren also joined "the shark club" for the morning, Soren having to paddle from Jew Shoal to Hell's Gates and back for his membership. Scater, out at Nth Sunshine Rf somewhere, also hooked up to what he initially thought was a Spaniard, but after a reasonable tussle also (landed?) and released his shark club membership ticket. I can't report on Whalebait's success or otherwise as he was not in radio contact. I saw him in the A-Bay Rf area in the later part of the morning, and was still there when Scater and I decided to return to MG. Whalebait, perhaps you could add a comment to this report to tell us how you faired.

That leaves me. Since I was one of the last to set out from MG, and the other areas of Laguna Bay were being well covered by the other NY, I decided to head for Nth Sunshine and A-Bay Rf areas, also encouraged by recent newspaper reports of large numbers of spanish and spotty macs being taken at Sunshine Rf. Having rounded Fairy Pools (eastern end of Granite Bay) my plan was to troll east to one of my Nth Sunshine Rf marks about 2 km ENE of Hells Gates, then south and SW to A-Bay Rf, stopping to bottom bash at a couple of intermediate marks along the way.

My plan turned to success when my trolled line with a Sauri bait on a weighted four-gang hook, went off with a scream when I was still about a kilometer from my intended initial SR mark. After 2-3 initial and final runs my quarry came in pretty easily and was soon circling on less than 2m of line to the right side of my yak. On about the fifth circuit I sunk the gaff into the Spaniard's head and lifted him half out of the water where he conveniently lay fairly motionless while I removed the well embedded leading hook (only) from the underside of the gills. Then through his lower jaw with the large "safety pin" hook on my securing line and into the hatch ... job done! Whooo Hooo!!

I continued on trolling east to my intended NSR-3 mark, then south for a ~750m to my NSF-2 mark where I stopped for a couple of bottom bashing drifts. Not having had even a hint of a bite, I was about to move on when my cast line with a SP was taken, resulting in a keeper snapper ~40 cm. From here I trolled a further 1.2 km SW to A-Bay Rf noting a few surface splashes along the way from what I'm fairly sure would have been hunting pelagics, but I was never able to identify what type. At no time did I see any surface bust-ups or bird activity.

I did a 3-4 drifts around the A-Bay Rf mark for about another hour but the breeze had by now dropped out and there was no consistent direction in the drift.

About 0800 we received a call from sunshiner who was now at MG enjoying a swim and advised he was armed with all sorts of photographic equipment to record our surf zone returns and catches (if any). By this time it seemed that Pedro and Eyetag were aready well on their way back to MG.

So just after 0830 with everything seeming to have gone quiet, and the temperature starting to increase noticeably, I decided to start the ~5km paddle back to Middle Groyne. Messages with similar sentiments were starting to filter through from the other NY.

The remainder of this report can best be covered by a video and pics on the beach, all thanks to sunshiner.

1:45 video of beach returns etc

Redwood, scatter and soren in discussion.

111cm on the mat (our new Noosa Yakkers mats will be here soon).

My first Spaniard this summer season.

Tammy, a local lady, was eager to pose.

Beach crowd anxious to get into the picture.

Segway-mounted police beach patrol who jokingly suggested he might have to confiscate my Spaniard (see video for more of this) frame from GoPro video)

That's it guys ... a great way to spend Australia Day 2015.


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