The alarm went off at 4am and I was reluctant to get up and go. Thoughts of taking the kids fishing started to cross my sleepy mind, but luckily the stubbornness kicked in and I decided to go. I was considering a Moffats launch, however hitting the snooze button 4 times put that idea to bed so it was off to Middle Groyne.
The car park was full when I got there (couple of palooka's taking up multiple bays with single vehicles) and all yakkers were already on the water. I'm not sure who this yakker was but he made for a good photo against the sunrise.
With Stormin's intel from the previous day I decided to head to Halls. Tunny and Stormin were already there whist Sunshiner and Diesel went to Jew Shoal and Weeksie to Sunshine Reef/Abay.
My plan was to slow troll a floating pillie around the tuna to try and pick up a Spaniard. I waited until I had crossed the mouth before deploying the rig as a lot of boats were crossing the bar. Around this time Tunny announced that he could see some birds diving closer in to the shore around Little Halls. I continued progressing north very slowly and it wasn't long before the reel went off... a small shark, which was released.
The bird action started to intensify but there were no bustups under them early on. I was in-close less than 1km off the beach and had just gone past Little Halls when the first of the Longtail bustups started. Tunny was not far away from my position and Stormin was a bit further north past the north shore campsite. The bustups started to get more frequent and soon Tunny and I were in chase mode chucking halco twisties into boils. My pillie was still floating out back along with a white softie dangling close to the boat which suddenly went off with a furry loosing line at a rapid rate... Longtail! If I boated this one it would be my first and playing on my mind were the number of Tuna fails I'd had. I took my time, backed the drag off a little and kept the pressure on. My second line was now getting in the way as it was being collected by the one the Tuna was on, so in fear of losing the fish to a weird tangle related incident I decided to cut the second line to mitigate the risk. I fought the fish for 10 or 15 minutes until I had it close to the yak. It did a couple of circles and then went right under the yak no more than 1/2 a metre and I could see the fish clearly... very nice fish I was thinking, when suddenly, 'pop', it was off. Grrrrr!
No point in getting bent out of shape, much better to re-rig and try again. The Longtails were now starting to go a bit berserk, popping up all over the show and I was back into spinning slugs through boils with my trusty white softie hanging out the back. Tunny had been spinning the boils all this time and obviously he'd not hooked up yet so we had a quick conversation about how we might change tactics and improve our chances. Tunny said he was going to try his home made weapon; a 40g twistie painted all black except for the tip which was left silver to look like a head. This was a pretty crafty move by Tunny. He could have just used a smaller twistie but then he would have lost casting distance, so instead he was going to try and make the 40g slug look smaller by changing the colour. Optical illusions work on us, so why not fish. I wonder if Tuna see a blue and black dress or gold and white? One cast of the painted slug and Tunny was on and landed a nice Longtail.
I switched to a number of different casting rigs from small clear softies (which worked for Weeksie the week before) to different size slugs (couldn't get good casting distance on smaller ones). I tried everything I had but couldn't tempt them on a cast.
The Tuna were now everywhere and all around Tunny and me. Jaro has come over the radio saying he was on a stinky and that he was surrounded too but could not land anything (serves him right for being on a stinky ;-). Stormin reported a lot of action at his position further north. Sunshiner and Diesel reported that it was all quiet on the eastern front.
With all this Tuna about I was very surprised that nothing had taken my trailing white softie so I decided to check it. The paddle tail had been bitten off so I replaced it with a new one and dropped it back in the water. A few minutes later the reel was screaming.... Longtail! I was very keen to boat this one. Once the line became tight I yanked the it a few times to try and set the hook better if it wasn't already. Again I was in no rush and knew I had wire trace and 15lb mono, so no reason not to land this baby. This one seemed to have more fight in it than the last one I lost and I think it must have been around 20min before I could see the fish. It was indeed a nice Longtail. It started to circle under the yak as I'd heard about and then I started to worry about not cocking it up in the last stages. I kept the pressure on at all times and slowly got the fish up higher and higher under the yak. I radioed Tunny for some gaffing advise and he said I might only have one chance... great, just what I needed... more pressure. The fish was very near the surface and still circling and a new concern crossed my mind... what if it wraps itself around the rudder? I tried to shorten the line so that it wouldn't. It did a few shallow circles and then I put the gaff under the chin and lifted it out the water and into the hatch. Mission complete. I asked Tunny if I needed to bleed and both he and Diesel thought it only made a slight positive difference to eating to do so.
During my fight Stormin had also hooked up by casting a white softie into a bustup. I'm sorry I didn't take a photo when we were back at the beach of his rudder as the fish had wrapped the braid 20 times around it. I'm still a bit perplexed how one continues to reel in when the line is wrapped around the rudder.
Sunshiner and Diesel had decided to pack it in at JS and thought they might swing by our position in case the action was still going on. When they arrived their was still the occasional bustup but I think everyone was ready to head in. We loaded up our HBL and headed back to MG. Just before the wall I hooked up with a small school mackerel which as usual managed to wiggle itself off my hook.
So 3 Longtail caught which is good, but considering the massive number of fish around it's surprising the catch count wasn't higher. Think it goes to the fact that unlike Spotties who'll take half a golf ball when they're on the chew, Longtails are fussy buggers.
I thought I had taken a movie of the mayhem, but I must have not hit the record button. That is a pity as I've not seen anything like it. Makes spoottie mac mayhem look tame. Here are some of the pics from the day from various contributors.
|KiwiKelv on his maiden voyage|
|Redwood, Tunny and Stormin (size of fish matching size of man)|
|Redwood - 4 years in the making. halle-!@#$!!ing-lujah.|
|Redwood and Tunny Longtail|
|Stormin's Longtail with two monster Mac Tuna|
|Redwood's Longtail with fishholder who wanted to remain anonymous|
Fantastic day out on the bay with a bunch of great guys. Thanks to all and sorry if I've missed anyone or any important details.