Tale of Two longtails. 09Mar15

TR by sunshiner

Wind: SE to 5 knots
Swell: 1.5m SE
Water temp: 27.2°C
Tides: 3:55 am : 0.45 L; 10:01 am : 1.63 H
Current: at Jew Shoal, no significant
Launch point: Middle Groyne
Surface action: heaps (tuna) near Granite Bay, sporadic in near Middle Groyne, later
Participants: tunny, diesel, Alan O'Leary (newest new member, no nickname yet), sunshiner
Keen Angler Program: they don't take tuna!

The tension had been building. Wardy and eyetag's reports over the last two days had told us that big predators were present in Laguna Bay and the trip on Saturday was full of tanatalising snippets of info which indicated the fish were at least there. I donutted on Saturday, took Sunday off and today it was do or curl up and die, for me! As I wrote this I'm not too curled up and very much alive.

Thinking I'd be among the first to arrive at the car park, I found that in fact I was last. Tunny had in tow Alan, our newest member, who seemed particularly keen, an impression later proven to be accurate.

Easy launch, although diesel picked the set of the day and got a bit damp, but made a path through for me. Valuable addition to Noosa Yakkers, is diesel. I wondered how Alan would go, but he seemed to get his Espri through without getting wet. Maybe he's an experienced surf zone transiter.

I moped all through the trip on Saturday because I'd left my radio behind (a VHF radio is SO useful, if only to keep you in the loop as to fish presence or otherwise) but today it was where it usually can be found at set-up time, in my dry bag.

And so I followed diesel out to Jew Shoal. The waning moon was still pretty big and, as you'd expect, not yet set. Conditions were superb, and having launched around 5:00 am, we still had around 45 minutes before sunrise, and there was a cloud bank ready to mask it when it occurred.

Today I didn't bother putting my Halco LP out until about one kilometre from The Pinnacles. and as I deployed it, its blue back almost glowing in the half light, I could see that diesel was already there. The easterly breeze was setting up a tiny chop and the water seemed clearer than on Saturday. Here's hoping. No fish so far in 2015! Fingers crossed!

Intent on setting up a drift for snapper, sweetlip or cobia (as ordered by Mary) I paddled up wind from The Pinnacles, watching the sonar for signs of bottom fish and keeping an eye out for pelagic predators. Crucially, the HLP was still thrumming away 40 paddle strokes behind and about one metre down.

On the port side about 50m away my eye caught a small splash and, unmistakeably, a single longtail tuna briefly leaving the water. This was a promising sign so I immediately paused to let my fellow Noosa Yakkers know what I'd seen. Diesel, bait fishing, asked me to tell the fish that he had some juicy baits available but I told him I thought this fish was looking for a moving bait, like my lure. I paddled on, for about 30 seconds…

The moment of the strike, as seen by the GoPro

Holy crap, the line was pouring off the reel. The ratchet was screaming wonderfully so I held the radio transmit button down briefly to let my fishing mates know that someone was hooked up.

I really wanted this fish, which I mentally called for a longtail part way through the initial screaming run. Soon, I had it more or less under control, with the rod pointing over the bow straight at the rampaging fish and the satisfying sound of water gurgling past under the keel as we embarked on a Noosa Sleigh Ride.

In the low light levels it took about 10 minutes before I'd retrieved enough line to be able to spot the fish, about five metres down. Sure enough, a longtail. As they do, it started to swim in a steady circle and gradually planed up to the surface under the pressure of the line. This is the final stage of the fight but is no time to increase the drag. Patience is better. Within a few minutes the gaff went in and I slid the magnificent, conquered beast over my lap and into the hatch. Whoopee!

Pity about the spot of water on the lens, but difficult to avoid sometimes. GoPro.

Video: 2 min added 11Mar15

My day was now made, and it was just past 6:00am.

Diesel by now had spotted terns wheeling around near Granite Bay, and set out to find out whether he could get some action there, as he so far had seen none. He disappeared over the SE horizon, followed shortly afterward by tunny. Alan stayed at Jew Shoal as he was interested in trying his hand at throwing SPs around, and this is what I had reverted to. I felt my chances were better if I deployed a SP on my trailing rig, which doubles as a slug chucker and until now had a 20gm Halco slug on it, which had not got a guernsey today. So the slug was exchanged for a small white SP on a 1/8 ounce 4/0 hook jighead and out it went, trailing behind me and up to 10m down, depending on drift rate. Alan reported that he'd got a massive hookup on his SP but had been busted. I noticed that he had only one outfit with him, but at least he'd had a strike. The others reported no action.

I wasn't getting any more action either so slowly came to the conclusion that Little Halls Reef, near which eyetag found fish yesterday afternoon, might be worth a try. Besides, both stormin and weeksie had pulled decent sized sweeties from there in the last few days, so why not. Only a 3km paddle and it's a lovely morning. Diesel appeared from the north east, still fishless and he decided to head for Halls Reef. So we left together, on diverging paths, heading west.

Nope, no surface action at Little Halls Reef. Never mind, I was here to catch a snapper or sweetlip. I set up a drift toward the north, past a couple of anchored stinkies catching nothing, with my trailing outfit trailing the white SP mid water and my casting outfit prospecting the waters at various depths with a different SP. It's only 13-15m deep at Little Halls Reef but it has produced some nice fish and it's only a gentle 3.5km paddle back to Middle Groyne. Nice! I resolved to give it 30 minutes then head home with my prize.

Tunny and Alan were having another go at the tuna around Granite Bay, with more success this time, as Alan was hooked up to a decent tuna taken on a SP. This was relayed to me by radio and I half jokingly suggested by radio that tunny should perhaps try a white SP drifted in the area. The GoPro shows that I still had the radio in my left hand when my trailing outfit, in the rod holder went off.

The moment I realized that the trailing outfit was making a loud buzzing noise. GoPro.

My hopes for a snapper or sweetlip dived when this fish took a screaming run to the south. Typical tuna run, accompanied by twitching feelings, as the tail hits the leader.

This fish came a little easier than the earlier one. In fact it seemed to give up completely after about ten minutes and then I saw that the leader was slightly wrapped around the pectoral fin and tail. It came to the side of the yak tail first and I took the opportunity of the easiest tail grab ever and lifted it aboard.

Easy tail grab. GoPro.

Nice fish, taken for my fellow fishos.

Video, added 11Mar15

While all this was going on, Alan had been spooled completely. Yep, Ping! Bare spool. Tunny had hooked, boated and returned a decent sized mac tuna, then loaned Alan one of his outfits. Alan hooked up again but apparently the fish spat the hook, although he did see it, I understand. Diesel was, well, heading home. As was I, now that I had a pretty full hatch. So I turned off the GoPro and paddled back to Middle Groyne without a lure out, but I did hava a slug casting option if the opportunity had arisen.

Diesel and I hit the beach together while tunny and Alan came in a little later. Some beach pics:

Longtail #1

Longtail #2

On the front deck

Tunny picking up a tiny shorey while manboobs guy looks on jealously.

With my two longtails which broke my duck for 2015.

A couple of videos to come, when time allows.

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

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