A Foul Long Tail - 02Mar15

TR by Jimbo

Wind: Less than 5k initially, then increasing 8-12k by 0830
Swell: 1.0m ESE
Tides: High 1.8m 0610; Low 0.6m 1235
Current: None detected (paddling or being towed continuously)
Launch Point: Middle Groyne.
Conditions: Clear initially, then partly clowdy.
Keen Angler Program: no contribution.
Participants: Jimbo.

I was keen to try some bottom fishing for sweetlip at Jew Sh following the recent big influx of fresh water into the bay, but delayed this until the next available opportunity after last Friday when Diesel reported a lot of weed in the water. Late Sunday afternoon, the BOM site (that I think is the most accurate) indicated there would be a small window of opportunity on Monday morning, but more importantly, the light winds predicted by Seabreeze for Wednesday and Thursday would not eventuate. So Sunday evening I made the late decision to launch on Monday morning.

The launch conditions at Middle Groyne at 0540 were ideal and I was soon on my way towards JS trolling a sauri on a 4-gang lure ...

on the odd chance it might attract the attention of a pelagic along the way ... Be careful what you wish for ...

When still about 800m SW of JS the trolled sauri got hit bigtime. This would have to have been the most continuous, hardest and fastest runs I have ever experienced. With about 50m of mono 30LB line out when the run started, this fish took at least another 100m out against a ~10LB drag setting in about 20-25 seconds before I had to tighten the drag even further to prevent the rapidly looming possibility of being spooled. This initial run eventually stopped and I was able to recover ~75m fairly quickly as the fish turned partially towards me. But from this point on I had a ding-dong battle for every metre gained for about 90 minutes with the rod bent at 90 deg or more for nearly all this time.

This fish clearly wasn't a shark given the erratic nature of its runs and at first I was thinking it could be a sizeable cobia or spaniard, or maybe a longtail tuna, but whatever it was it towed me around like an uncontrolled sled dog Team. It initially made at least four full 360 deg circles, sometimes turning the yak in little more than its length, always in a clockwise direction, over an area of about 250m diameter. It also became apparent this fish was probably foul hooked because of the tell-tale "buzzing" and "singing" sound coming from the nylon mono line under tension, and the fact that I was not gaining much line back, even after 20-30 minutes.

After the initial circling manoeuvres the fish headed first east, then north, then east and north again, to be fairly close to the Pinnacles, before heading generally in a NE direction. After about one and a quarter hours, apart from starting to feel pretty tired in the arms, I was starting to become a little concerned as Main Beach had now started to dip beyond the horizon, and the forecast southerly was starting to increase. A quick check on the GPS indicated I was now more than 2km NE of JS and on a steady course for New Caledonia at a steady speed of about 2.5 kph. Time to put some serious pressure on this fish, which I still had not sighted since I was generally being towed into the morning sun, and hoping my terminal knot would hold.

After another 15 mins of slow pumping and applying near maximum tension to the line and rod, my quarry eventually came into view in the slightly cloudy water ... a very thick longtail about a metre long, and sure enough, foul hooked with the leading hook buried into its boney underside behind the gills and the fourth hook in behind its eye. This fish effectively WAS harnessed up just like a sled dog ... no wonder I couldn't turn the bugger around!

It took yet a further 10 mins as the tuna did its customary circling alongside the yak until I eventually got it close enough to sink the gaff into its side and heave it on board. We were both pretty stuffed, luckily the tuna a bit more than me!

After securing the longtail with a tail rope and stuffing it into the rear compartment in the yak, a check of the GPS revealed I was 2.25 km NE of the Pinnacles. The fish had towed me about 3.0 km in a straight line from where I had first hooked up, but in reality a total distance of at least 3.5 km given the very circuitous route it had taken to get there.

All I had to do now was paddle the 6.0 km back to Middle Groyne. Although I had to paddle back over Jew Sh to get there, I quickly dismissed the idea of stopping off to do some bottom bashing along the way, given the tiredness of my arms, the increasing southerly cross-headwind I had to paddle against to get back, and the reality that I would already have to spend most of the afternoon cleaning and filleting the longtail I already had. I didn't even bother trolling my one remaining sauri bait on the way back.

The southerly cross-headwind abated slightly as I moved into the lee of the National Park, and I was back on the beach at 0915 having avoided the intermittent swell now rising over the swollen sand bank now in place out from the rock groyne, as evidenced by a swimmer wading in only waist deep water adjacent to the end of the rocks.

Once at home I took the following pics, the first using the brag mat borrowed from Sunshiner. A side note for those of you who have ordered one of our own NY brag mats, these should be available within the next couple of weeks.

The longtail measured 106 cm and weighed a solid 12 kg.

A happy, somewhat tired yakker.

That's it. A good day after a three week hiatus.


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