Cuddles in the Spaniard Club. 18Feb16

TR by sunshiner

Wind: None
Swell: about 1.5m easterly
Water temp: 26.7°C
Tides: High 05:00am (1.79m); Low 11:30am, (0.66m)
Current: at Jew Shoal, toward the east
Launch point: Middle Groyne
Surface action: sporadic, tiny longtail tuna (see pics below)
Participants: cuddles, diesel, jimbo, sunshiner
My trip distance: 12.5km
Redmap: No sightings provided
Keen Angler Program: Nothing today.

With an overcast sky, waxing moon already set, and a 5:30am sunrise, light levels on the beach were low at 4:45am this morning. Even so, by the time we launched into the small surf we could see reasonably well, especially the bright whiteness of the broken waves marching toward us. Cuddles, diesel and I launched together, with jimbo electing to come along a little later. Launch was easy, and in fact I dry-bummed it.

Both diesel and cuddles reported seeing, even in the low light levels, many small sharks swarming under and around their yaks in 6m depth as soon as they stopped to set up after launch. I couldn't see the sharks, but perhaps they avoided my boat!

Cuddles, with no radio, GPS or sonar, opted to stick along with diesel and me, heading for Jew Shoal and so we three headed NNE together in clammy, calm conditions.

Diesel kindly let cuddles know when we'd arrived at The Pinnacles, explained the depth and structure to him and left him to his own devices. As for me, I'd decided to use up my Jew Shoal time on trying for a snapper or sweetlip so out came the soft plastics. As we've shown on many occasions, we catch snapper in every month of the year, so it's always worth a shot. Diesel was digging out his bottom fishing rigs.

At first there were no signs of tern or surface action. Then, quite suddenly, soon after sunrise, I noticed a large flock of terns wheeling around out to the east. Diesel was right in the middle of them and radioed back that they appeared not to be feeding, but simply wheeling around in expectation that something might happen.

When fishing for snapper and sweetlip I usually try to find baitfish down deep on the sonar and fish there. But today, I could find no baitfish around Jew Shoal. Nevertheless, I stuck to my plan after briefly considering paddling after the large flash crowd of terns, still visible, but obviously working their way toward the SE, ie, further away.

My first SP was launched around 6:00am and I hadn't had a serious touch by around 7:30am, when I suddenly boated an undersize Maori cod. Simultaneously diesel reported from a couple of hundred metres away nailing a just undersized snapper, then another. Earlier, he'd hooked a shark near Old Faithful and lost it boatside (Mexicans love to eat shark and this one had a narrow escape). Speaking of sharks, Jimbo, who'd launched later than we had and headed for Little Halls Reef called us up and reported that he'd boated a small bronze whaler and whacked it in the hatch. As for cuddles, we'd last seen him paddling toward the SE after the flock of terns.

By 8:00am I was contemplating pulling up stakes and heading home when I noticed that the flash mob of terns had arrived back at the eastern end of Jew Shoal. And there, paddling directly toward me from the centre of the flock, was the unmistakeable figure of cuddles. When he was closer I could see he had a big smile on his face and was just waiting for me to ask how he went. So, of course, I didn't ask, for about ten seconds.

After confirming with me that there's no size or possession limit on tuna, he confessed that he'd been chasing the terns and been casting a slug into them. So he had six tiny tuna in his strap-on bag (his Stealth Splash has no fish hatch). Needless to say they were little guys but he'd kept them in the hope that they might be good eating. But, more to the point, he'd just nailed his first Spaniard a few minutes before, right among the flock of terns.

Cuddles' first ever Spaniard, taken on a trolled dead bait and SAFA rig. Nice fish, 119cm.

He had to head home as work beckoned, so off he went. Soon afterward I decided that I too would head in as there was no sign of the snapper that I wanted. Diesel agreed to head in also, so I turned toward Middle Groyne.

On the way, off Tea Tree Bay, I found myself paddling near a bust up of the small tuna which cuddles had done battle with. I was curious to see exactly which species they were as cuddles' fish were definitely not mac tuna. They were easily within range of my light SP casting outfit so I chucked the SP in and got a hookup instantly followed by a spirited fight, and in due course, a live release.

Isobar caught one of these on Christmas Day last year, at Sunshine Reef (the day he caught his marlin) and I saw and photographed the specimen he kept. (See his TR from that day.) Being a fisheries scientist with lots of international contacts isobar eventually concluded that it was a juvenile longtail tuna. Those who have caught adult longtail tuna will notice that this juvenile has a much larger pectoral fin than you'd expect and also perhaps that the eye seems larger than you'd expect too. Nevertheless, the experts reckon that it's a baby longtail. Until I saw isobar's specimen on Christmas Day I'd never seen tuna like this. Now we have a bay packed with them. They'd be dynamite as a live bait, I reckon.

Cuddles promised to send me a photo of his Spanish next to a measuring device, and duly delivered on that promise:

119cm Spaniard. Well done and congrats on joining the Spaniard Club, cuddles.

Thanks for reading.

Kev Long
Author Kayak Fishing Manual for iPhone, iPad and Mac (click linked text to view)
Stealth Supalite X, yellow/orange
FREE iBook "Kayak Fishing Laguna Bay & Jew Shoal" for iPhone, iPad and Mac

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