Tuesday 5pm: I checked Wednesday's weather to see the wind below 10 knots, for what seems the first time in months. I decided to take the day off work with a view to finally getting offshore again. I emailed a few forum friends to see if anyone could make it, packed my gear into the car and sat down to fiddle with my lure selection for tomorrow's trip. I decided to limit the lures I took and try to use them all, in the hope one was right on the day. I picked up a bibbed minnow lure I have towed aound since the late 90s without ever having a strike on it. I said to myself this was the last trip. Next step was the retirement bin for this lure. I sorted thru my rod selection and grabbed my untried 4-8kg squidgy stick. I haven't bought the daiwa Sol 3000, I have been drooling over yet so, I loaded my cheapo Shimano Slade 2500 and told myself there wasn’t going to be anything big anyway.
3am Wed morning: Time to go. I got the ice bricks from the freezer and looked at the packet of squid I had bought in Sept, the week before I bought the yak. I took it out and put in the esky, then I put it back in the fridge, then back in the esky and finally back to the freezer. Apart from flathead, I haven't really mastered the plastics fishing yet. The last four trips out I hadn't even had a strike let alone land a fish. My mates have been dining out on my plastics fishing for the past few months, but this only made me more determined to master it. One more try I told myself, back to bait if it doesn’t come good today.
I met Greg (HardPlastic) on Moffats Headland at 4:45am and we decided to head for Bray's Rock. The launch from Shelly Beach was uneventful. Three foot sets but only a shore break. Once out we let out the troll rods and pedalled\paddled the 1-2km to Brays. A couple of circuits around the rock without action. At one stage I stopped to cast a plastic and forgot I had a new bibless lively lures "mack bait". The type you can jig, troll or cast. Unfortunately it went straight to the bottom and hooked up the reef. In spite of best efforts, I couldn’t manage to free it and after a couple of circles and a few swear words I decided to cut my losses and consign my brand new $15 lure to the deep. This wasn’t the day I was looking for.
Greg paddled over to say a yakker had passed him on the way back in from out wide and had a couple of good snapper and kingfish onboard. We decided to head out and try our luck a little further out around the shipping lanes. When we reached the spot, I cast out my squidgy stick with a 1/4oz Nitro Saltwater 3\0 jig head and a 6" jerk minnow in smoke back disco. I have never caught a snapper from the yak and decided to try the shaking technique I had read about recently. I gave it a good shake and then waited……Shaaaaake…….nothing….. Shaaaaake…… Bang!!!!!! The little Shimano Slade reel started to scream. It was right about now I was kicking myself for not getting that Sol !! On the second shake something has hit it like a steam train, peeled off 40-50m of 8lb braid and had the starlo squidgy stick bent over to the max. After a few minutes battle, I landed the first of two 53cm snapper. You could have heard the screams back at Caloundra. "It works" I screamed at the top of my lungs…. "They bl00dy work...Plastics Work!!!!!!" All the months of reading, dvds, practice and not to mention the hundred's of dollars of new fishing gear finally paid off. This little 53cm snapper seemed the biggest fish of my life.
It was about 20 mins before I got my next bite. Straight up I knew it was a better fish. He wasted no time heading for the rocks and cover, the little Slade screaming, the Squidgy stick bent right over. He was taking ground on me so I decided to use the Hobie pedals to pull him away from cover. It worked!!! Now he's clear of the structure I started the little pump and winds. He let me have half a dozen and I started to think how easy this was going to be when the rod bent over again, reel screaming and off to the bottom he went. He only just managed to fit in the net mouth. Lucky I thought, the 12lb leader wouldn’t take a lift without snapping and my brand spanking new gaf is buried somewhere in the hull, along with all the other big fish gear "I wasn’t going to need today" !!!!!!
I was just sitting there, catching my breath and feeling very pleased with myself when Greg announced he was heading in to go to work. I decided I had enough fish and would head back inshore with him. I looked at that useless old lure on the $79, 30lb Penn GT220 outfit. No strikes on the way out… as usual. I looked at the yellow and green Halco Laser Pro but decided my current haul afforded a little laziness and just let out the same old lure.
The wind was up over the 10 knots and as predicted, the swell had also lifted a little. The trip home was harder work than the journey out, but a boat full of fish made it a little easier. Flocks of birds hitting bait boils are either side of us and a couple of giant turtles popped their heads up to say hello.
Suddenly the yak lurched over to one side and that old familiar scream built to a crescendo…. I haven't heard that for a while… too long. Was this it?? The moment of my first towed kayak. I had dreamt of this moment so many times, worked through in my mind what I would do. I screamed to Greg I was on and reached back to take the fully bent rod from the holster. Easy, easy, rudder full lock, pedals pumping in short sharp strokes, I turned the yak round to face the fleeing fish and take the strain. Its about now I'm wishing Id brought that gimbal. (big fish gear I wasn't going to need today) There's a tennis ball sized groin bruise for the next week… Oh well. To think I was about to change that "useless old lure" about 2 mins before the fish hit.
This fish is peeling line but not going too far. Mostly up and down and round and round. I am working the rudder and the pedals to keep him on the preferred side of the boat but he isn't making it easy, continually going under the yak. What is it??? After quite a few pumps I could start to see colour. I shouted to Greg, "there's colour".
What was it… its dark, very dark…. Sh1t.. It’s a reef shark, no wait there's some lighter flesh too. It’s a cobia I shouted wildly to Greg, but before I could get the words out he rolled on his side and that beautiful gold colour shone through. "WoooooooHoooooo!!!......... It’s a Yellowfin, It’s a Yellowfin"
At first sight of the boat, it went off again and sounded to the bottom, the GT220 was screaming and hot to touch. After another five mins or so I got him to the surface, but this time he wasn’t as fiesty as the last. How will I get him onboard, where will I put it, how will I pedal home with a metre long fish in my lap? Its too big for the net and I don’t want to use the gaff only to have blood everywhere and a shuddering fish in its death throes. Greg convinced me I should grab its tail and lift it onboard. I wasn’t so sure. I didn’t fancy an 8kg fish going off in my lap. I reach for the tail but on first touch, the Yellowfin mustered all of its remaining strength and took off for the bottom again. He came back up easily this time so I knew I had won. Just have to get it onboard now.
This time I grabbed his tail and lifted it aboard without any resistance. I reached behind me and grabbed a wet towel and placed it over the fish. Whew.. That was easy but it could have been bad. What if the fish had gone off when I got it aboard? Having a 20 pound tuna going nuts in your nether region is not my idea of fun. I have to think this through better before next time.
With the fish aboard, it was time to get to shore, but I didn’t have anywhere to store the fish. My bucket was full of snapper. Greg kindly offered to take it the front of his yak. Thanks Greg, I never thought of the added weight of the fish in that increasing headwind on the way home.
No more stikes on the 3-4km trip home. My beach landing was embarrasing as usual. I managed to fall out of the yak at the last hurdle, but luckily it stayed upright and the fish bucket contents intact. I have to make a better plan here. Not to mention spending some time witout all the expensive fishing gear onboard, just practising leaving and returning to the beach.
That’s probably one of the most satisfying fishing days of my life (and there have been a lot). The months of studying and asking questions had paid off. I had recently dropped swivels in favour of the double uni knot for leader and the lure knot for lures. My usual crappy standard of knot tying was good enough to stand up to some reasonable fish. My switch to smaller reels and lighter rods for plastics also worked. I cracked two new species from the yak and therefore two new PBs.
I really had to battle to come to work this morning. Greg just rang to say the ocean was a sheet of glass at sunrise. Oh well…. Season has just begun. If every trip is as good as this one I'm in for a fantastic few months this summer. Im also looking long and hard at that Sth West Rocks trip in Feb. TLD25s with a 15-24kg rod are less that $200 at the moment. I think Id better go get one. Would love to hook up a marlin.
Yellowfin Tuna - 8.5kg - 90cm
Snapper - 2 x 2.2kg - 53cm; 1 x 3.6kg - 70cm
Last edited by paulo
on Thu Dec 06, 2007 5:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Qld Member - Hobie State Fishing Team
Yak PBs - 60cm Tailor | 72cm Spangled Emporer | 85cm Flathead | 90cm Yellowfin | 75cm Snapper | 85cm Mac Tuna | 2.5m (78kg) Black Marlin | 1.2m Longtail | 1.32m (19.5kg) Kingfish