As I looked at the forecast for Saturday I saw that conditions were going to be awesome for Moreton Bay. In fact, I was feeling a bit adventurous and thought I would try a new place. So I decided to take on Mud Island.
I prepped well and decided to fish with some good ol’ bait. I brought prawns, squid & pillies to be rigged on paternoster rigs with circle hooks. The plan for the rigs were; one paternoster had two droppers, one with a half pillie and the other with a prawn; the other line had a single dropper with a longer line with a whole squid.
I arrive at 5:30pm to the Whyte Island Boat Ramp and the parking lot is nearly full with at least 30 trailers. On the water by 6am. When I wasn’t too far from the boat ramp I already had my first fish on a ecogear sx40, a small tailor. Couple more paddle strokes I had another little tailor on my rapala xr-10 glass ghost.
Due to it being high tide I was able to cut right around the bottom of the port island and head out toward St Helena Island but making sure I was lining up with Mud Island. I had to be careful as St Helena was covered by a green zone and did not want to be drifting into that with my lines out!
The water at this point was full of sea grass, so my lures kept getting fouled up with debris. One time as I was looking down removing the grass, I heard this loud sound that startled me! I looked up and not more than 10 metres from me were two dugongs! Very interesting start indeed seeing these creatures. I pulled my camera out to capture the moment and then they were gone. I started hoping they would eat all the sea grass floating around by the time I come back through.
Didn’t get another bite until I got next to Mud and switched over to my paternosters. As this was my first trip out I really didn’t know where to go. I had two rough GPS marks I gleened from another forum and started to follow my sounder and navionics chart (I use the navionics ap on my iPhone) for potential structure. First fish I brought up was a little moses perch. I decided to drift a bit as the current was with me, along with the wind behind me to cover ground and see if I could tempt some fish. It wasn’t going to happen for a bit. Really didn’t find anything here.
I looked up and saw the armada of tinnies that made it out that morning already in place waiting for the fish. As it is the weekend, thought I would use the “common” knowledge to mark the spots and investigate further. I sounded around a bit & found some activity on my fishfinder. Anchor goes down, lines out and in no time I boat my first little snapper... then a small grassie sweetlip... another tiny snapper... a grinner... another baby snapper. The circle hooks were great for quick releases. I also notice several tinnies pulling anchor and coming right beside me... oh great catching little fish which is now starting to be annoying and having these tinnies box me in, not so much fun. I pull anchor and move toward the corner of the armada and reanchor. The sounder didn’t show much of anything on the bottom and definitely no activity. Thought I’d change tactics to a wait and see... Probably 10 minutes in, the current is picking up and I get a bite. Another snapper! Wasn’t a tiny thing, but bigger than what I was catching at the other spot. Had several more hit the deck and it seemed every one I was catching was getting bigger until... finally after several trips of trying I pulled in my first legal snapper at 41 cm! I also discovered I need to learn how to use a lip grips because this was the first fish I almost couldn’t hold in one hand. Next snapper I pulled in was 35.5cm... technically legal, but didn’t want to keep it as it might shrink in the eski so off it swam to grow into a 80cm snapper I would later catch...
By 11:30am the area was a ghost town. It was just me and another boat. The bay had nearly glassed out and I’m feeling pretty chuffed that I just made one of my goals for the year. The bite slowed right down after pulling a good number of fish so thought it was time to move.
I went to the other side of where the armada was stationed to do some reconnaissance. I thought, you know just because there was a tinnie here doesn’t mean they know how to fish. Let’s see what’s in the area. Anchor up and lines out again. Ten minutes in and I have my first taker! I feel there is a bit more fight than most of the fish for the morning and ready the net. To my surprise it was a venus tuskfish at 38cm. Did not expect to be pulling one of these out this morning! Into the fishbag he goes. Now I’m really stoked to have a meal of reef fish when I get home.
Line out again. Probably another 10 minutes and my line just goes screaming out. I’m thinking this has to be good, maybe a 80cm snapper... As I was anchored and the fish was running away from me the kayak was being pulled to the left... then to the right... then to the left... then... my other line was still in the water and just wrapped my line with the fish! It is now braid on braid and luckily the fish did not seem to try a run while I brought the line in and cut the paternoster. However as I pulled on the main rod again I felt like something gave way... did I lose it? I reeled a bit more in and then felt a bit of a pull. It wasn’t pulling the same but something is still on. I get it to the side of the kayak and it is a slit-eyed shark, about 1.1 metres long. It is also tail wrapped. It was tangled pretty good, so it was a good decision to keep this shark as I don’t mind eating bull shark so this one shouldn’t be too bad either. After lifting it to my crate behind me I did manage to spike it. Now I could unravel it. As I was pulling on the main line (30lb braid) a couple wraps came off then... a frayed end. Huh? How’d the fish stay on the line? Somehow the weight on my paternoster wrapped the main line higher than the spot that was frayed thus I was able to land the fish.
It was now getting close to 2pm and I knew I needed to start heading back in. Luckily the wind changed directions and the tide was now starting to flow back in. Should be a fast trip. It was for the first half, even managed to pick up a little flathead & another grinner on a micro mullet.
But then the wind changed direction and being low tide I had an extra 3 kilometres to paddle. The area I crossed at the start now was a giant mud embankment. What took me just shy of 2 hours to paddle out now took 3.5 hours of continuous paddling to get back in. It was so nice to round that mud embankment to be back in the tidal flow and have the wind at my back. I arrived just as the sun disappeared on the horizon. It was a pretty epic day and really enjoyed the trip and the spoils I was bringing home.
I wouldn’t recommend paddling to Mud Island for novice kayakers. One would paddle 30km at a minimum to set up at a decent mark. I did 32kms this day. The conditions have to be just right as well as it is not that protected of an area from the wind. It is also going to be an all day event unless you can paddle 10km/hr then you can just get there for the morning.
Personal Best Yak Fish: Australian Bass 46cm, Mangrove Jack 38cm, Giant Trevally 48cm, Flathead 65cm, Tailor 35cm, Whiting 36cm, Bream 27cm, Snapper 41cm, Tuskfish 38cm