Little Halls cobia, 19Sep17

[Two videos: trip summary and cobia catch, at end of post]

There was this one offshore yak fishing opportunity for the week showing up on Seabreeze and confirmed by MetEye. I put out the word on FB the afternoon before and, as I'd hoped, tunny agreed to accompany me on a brief foray to Little Halls Reef before the wind started blowing hard from the north, for several days.

Tunny was already in the carpark when my little green Mazda also arrived, at around 0450. Soon we were trundling our yaks down to the beach where I was happy to be greeted by a very small swell and smooth waters inshore but in the improving light, a small chop out wider, denoting a light NW breeze, as forecast.

I really needed a snapper today as my snapper score for 2017 so far has been woeful and way below my yearly average. I was also intent on experimenting with a bobby cork rig which allowed a live or dead bait (or lure) to be suspended at a depth of 10m. Today it was rigged for bait. Those familiar with Little Halls Reef will immediately recognize that such a rig, if working properly, will keep the bait 2-3m above the ocean floor in that area. So, snag free but well within the reach of succulent and nervous bottom dwellers such as sweetlip.

Tunny was first in the area (well he is younger, and fitter!). After a short while he reported that he'd found a small patch of bait, which is really important, we think, for indicating where we should fish. "The secret to fishing: fish where the fish are." This first patch of bait proved illusory and so we paddled and drifted randomly fishing all the while and eventually I ran across a decent, if rather small, patch of bait which I marked and then told tunny about. We fished within about 50m of this bait school for the rest of the session.

We'd started fishing the area at around 0600 and the first action wasn't for an hour or so after this. My experimental bobby cork rig provided it. I was fishing with a SP on my casting rig and keeping a peripheral eye on my bobby cork, bobbing around some 10-15m away, with the bait suspended at 10m depth. Quite suddenly the float sank. My heart raced and I struck to feel a slight weight which soon revealed itself to be a very juvenile Maori cod. Hey, the rig worked! The stinger treble was lodged securely in its jaw. Back it went to do some growing up.

I rebaited the bobby cork rig with a pre-sliced strip of bonito and paddled the short distance back to the bait school where I deployed my attractions again. It didn't take long. Again, the float disappeared, but more violently this time. Line was pouring off the reel and, having picked up the trailing rig, I had two rods in my hands. What's more, the casting outfit also took off (later I realised that the SP on this rig must have somehow become engaged with the bobby cork rig as I had line pouring off both reels).

Then everything went slack (well, nearly everything). My leader knot on the bobby cork rig had broken. Perhaps I'd upped the drag a little too high but the knot did break (bugger!). My float popped up some distance away and tunny helped retrieve it. So, what to do? Re-rig of course. No small task in a kayak rocking on the ocean: tie on a new leader (10m long), thread a bead on then thread the bobby cork on followed by tying on a new terminal rig, baiting it and paddling back to where the fish might be. This seemed a fair-enough idea at the time, but I made the fatal mistake of feeding out the 10m leader overboard while I was setting stuff up. I was all ready to redeploy it when I realised that I had the new leader around the rudder. Fark! There was nothing for it but to ask tunny to help and as it was "be kind to old guys' day" he did, but in the process the new leader etc was rendered useless (it was in several pieces, which is not good). But I hadn't lost my float, or the new terminal gear, which is good.

Tunny helps out
I sulked for a short while, fishing with only my casting outfit. Then a ray of sunshine arrived in the form of a small but keeper snapper. That banished my sulkiness and started me thinking about repairing the trailing rig and making it simpler: i.e. no float.

My second snapper for 2017
The re-rig of the trailing outfit took only a couple of minutes. I baited it with another slice of the bonito I caught a couple of trips back, paddled back to "where the fish are" and deployed it first, simply letting a little line out until I judged it might be several metres down. I then placed the rod in the rod holder making sure that the drag was lightly set (this to minimise the possibility of being rolled in the event of a big strike). I then cast out my SP on the other rod and settled back into my routine. One minute, two minutes, pow! The drag ratchet sounded like a chain saw in a quiet forest dale, even though I'm half deaf.

Even if I do say so myself, I think I did a decent job of getting the casting rig retrieved and out of the way and the drogue too, all while fighting the rampaging monster with my spare hand. I guessed early on that it may have been a cobia as it fought straight up and down (lots of down, I can tell you). Half way through the 15 minute fight I saw the cobe clearly below. Possibly a PB, I thought, but certainly not a Noosa Yakkers record. I just kept the pressure on and waited for the inevitable tiring of my opponent. The gaff went in once I judged it was really knackered and I dragged it aboard and slid it straight into the open hatch.

The cobia swims past just before gaff time.

I had enough fish but tunny and I hung around for a little longer before heading in, accompanied by an increasing northerly breeze, exactly as forecast, and, unforecast, a pod of three whales which swam on a parallel track with me toward Middle Groyne for around 15 minutes.

Beach pics

Mother and daughter, holidaying from Melbourne, were happy to have their picture taken.

Pic by tunny. Thanks, mate.

On the mat. At least 117cm, maybe 120 but not longer.

Thanks for reading.

And for those who like to watch...

The cobia capture

The trip summary

Kev [sunshiner]

Upper Noosa River -Doctor Dog's Solo Adventure Sept 2017

Sept 15-18 2017    
         After a couple of false starts frustrating my long held desire to explore the upper Noosa River I finally set off  to my launch site at Harry's Hut on a solo adventure. My dear wife did not want to join me on this trip and no takers were available amongst Noosa Yakkers or wider social media land.
         In years past we used to drive the Cooloola Way when passable en-route to and from my family's farm at Maryborough and in doing so crossed the Upper Noosa River on a rickety log bridge which has long since been deemed unsuitable to traffic of any sort .
          From those trips past Wallum Plains of cryptic Ground parrots and seasonal Christmas Bells my curiosity was piqued as to how far one could access the Noosa River towards that old bridge.
          I was now about to find out some 25 years later.

My midday departure from Harry's was later than planned as I had to repack and rationalise some of my gear, too many clothes in too many bags.

I was anxious to get underway but curious as to how well the Stealth would be trimmed with such a load on board.

I need not have been concerned as the Stealth soaked up the added weight and paddled like a dream - cruising at a steady 6 kph with only moderate effort. I soon made my way to campsite 5 for the first night.

Backing as it does onto the track for the Cooloola Great Walk running parallel to the river in this section I took myself for an afternoon walk with the camera finding a variety of wild flowers , wild life and hippy craft work and interesting reflections along the way.

Next morning the mist was ethereal after the cold night. 
Paddling on to Campsite 15 I was surprised by the number of small creeks that lead east and west into the surrounding national parkland that had a significant fresh flow in spite of the dry season. 

Some of the creeks are nameless but others such as Teewah Creek are shown on most maps. 
Teewah Ck joins the Noosa River just opposite Camp 15 and is flowing shallow and clear although tannin stained and is navigable for only a short distance before logs block any further progress.

Five or more metres above river level the log demarcated camp is guarded by a stately Staghorn fern.

Paddling upstream from camp 15 for less than half an hour I came to this log jam impeding any further progress. My journey was monitored by a pair of Azure kingfishers and a pair of Australasian Darters each taking turns to take alarm at my intrusion in their fishing zone and flying ahead just a short distance before resuming their hunting.

Feisty Bass are one of the attractions up here and I found 2 eager takers for my crayfish pattern lure just on dusk right in front of the campsite.

Early morning reflections make rising with the dawn chorus of bird calls worthwhile. 

Paddling back to Harry's I paused for the evening at a favourite sandy spit with just enough room for my one man tent . I had planned to camp at site 9 but took advantage of good paddling conditions to get further downstream. With hind sight I probably should have stayed at 9 as the noise from the backpackers group site at 3 travelled through the still evening air somewhat reducing the "wilderness" feel of my sandy haven. 

A Yellow Robin posed near my lunch spot at the Harry's Day use area upon my return to the launch site.

                         Local bearded Dragon was caught sunning himself on the gravel climb out of the National Park                                          

This fat Red Bellied Black snake slid off into the forestry near the Doggerel trees.

A sensational 3 days away in the wilderness and so close to home- yes I will do it again - perhaps in autumn 2018 --- any takers ??