Get comfortable. Three sessions in one report!

Session 1/3

Date/Time: 17 November 2007 / 0500hrs
Wind strength/direction: 15-20 knot ESE
Outside temperature: 25C
Water temperature: 24C

Whack! ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ! … He’s on! Three minutes into the launch and Steve is connected to the first squire for the day! Whack! ZZZZZZZZZZZZ…..ZZZZZZZZZZZZ! … and I’m hooked on to a good size squire. Whack! ZZZZZ….ZZZZZZZZZ…..ZZZZZZZZZZ! Ash in on to his first squire! Triple hookup! This is plain incredible! No more than 5 minutes into the trip, and no more than 20 meters from the launch site, and a couple of the lads already have dinner well and truly in the bag. Perhaps I had better pinch myself to wake up from this dream? Hey!! Do you bloody mind!! You’re already awake you fool, stop pinching me!! This is going to be a cracker of trip, I can just feel it!


<Photo courtesy Ash>

This trip saw us launching from a partly used boat ramp on Solander Esplanade, Banksia Beach. The launch site is a wonderfully soft, sandy area, with plenty of room for setting up the kayaks, as well as clean amenities and a basic fish prepping area. Not too many boaties launch from this spot as the concrete ramp does not actually meet up with the passage, and as such the boats need to be launched with the help of a 4wd. The perfect spot to launch the ‘yaks :) .



A good handful of South-East Queensland AKFF members organised to hit the new location for the next fishing trip, and to recon the area to check out just how fishy it could be. We have heard a good number of previous reports from Dave, a legendary fly fishing local, that the spot has never failed him, and that he has usually got dinner sorted within the first or second cast. Now we all know that fishermen are very honest people, never bend the truth, and always share their secret spot X sites with other fishermen; however this was a spot which we needed to confirm for ourselves actually held fish. :)

Less then 10 meters from the beach, and the crystal clear one meter depth changes dramatically from a “juvenile whiting playground”, to a very respectable “I don’t think my 6lb leader was such a good choice” 7 meters of water. The drop off is graced by a shear rocky ledge running parallel to the shore for a couple of hundred meters. With a number of dips and rises further along from this ledge, you are greeted with a channel dropping further into a “wish you were here” 10 meter depth. Now this is a fishy spot! You can immediately sense that the area is going to hold a large number and variety of fish, as well as an even larger array of other piscatorial wonders. The bottom structure is littered with vast areas of thick “yes squire” rubble grounds, rocky “thank cod” outcrops, and even some lightly peppered sea grass beds for the sweetlip, dugong, and squid to frolic amongst. The gullies are consistently etched in to the passage, and plague-like numbers of bait fish are suspended like candy to tempt some of the friendlier toothy critters. Does this sound alright to you? Damn right! It’s another jigsaw piece to add to the “where the bloody hell are ya'” Queensland coastline.

A number of drifts backwards and forwards would see Ash bag another good squire, and Gaz bag a nice flathead closer in to the wreck. Oh… sorry… ? … did I forget to mention that bit? That’s right.. there’s also a wreck here. If the above mentioned marine landscape doesn’t grab your attention, and you are not already salivating all over your morning newspaper, then perhaps the mention of a wreck might be more up your alley? Picture this… pristine deep water .. clouds of bait fish… and a fast moving current. Insert some rocky grounds rising consistently up towards a circa 1900 wreck. Still with me? … good. So how about we add a splash of sand banks, some further peppering of weed beds, and throw in some holes and gullies just for sh*ts and giggles? Voila! There you have it.. the Avon wreck.

I’ll stop at this point as my stories can’t always be just fun and games. Take out your pen and paper please class, it’s time for a brief history lesson. The Avon was once a schooner used to transport South Sea Islanders to Queensland to work the cane fields. In 1915, the Avon was purposefully wrecked on Blackbuoy Bank as an experiment to form a breakwater to protect oyster banks in the area from heavy southerly weather. A South Sea Islander was appointed a caretaker of the oyster leases, and a hut was built on the hulk’s stern where he lived. While the idea sounded very plausible at the time, the wreck quickly became heavily encrusted with oyster shells, and the caretaker could no longer live comfortably upon the Avon. The experiment was shelved shortly after his departure. Today, the Avon still sits proudly exposed at low tide, and provides the ideal habitat for a big flattie or three. There will be an exam tomorrow morning. Don’t be late.

By mid morning the ‘yaks were all beached at the original launch site, and the chit chat had commenced. Re-introductions occurred, brief summaries commenced, and the education about ‘yak-fishing to the usual onlookers occurred. The change in tide saw us farewell a couple of happy yakkers, and back into the water the remaining ‘yaks ventured. This is not a spot you can leave in a hurry, and quite a number of drifts would see us continue stalking the area until noon. There were no ‘keeper’ fish caught in this next period, however there was quite a bit of activity still to be had. Ash had managed to pull a nice mangrove jack out of the ledge on the drift, turtles broke the surface for a quick look at the plastic bathtub brigade, dolphins cruised close by in a carefree habitual pattern, and the pelicans waited on shore for a lazy feed of cleaned fish remains. It was a wonderful morning, and a pleasure to meet up with some familiar faces, as well as some new ones. This will definitely be a spot which will get a bit more attention over the next few weeks.


<Photo courtesy Ash>

Session 2/3

Date/Time: 18 November 2007 / 0445hrs
Wind strength/direction: 10 knot ENE
Outside temperature: 23C
Water temperature: 23C

What could it possibly be? Is it a shark waiting to taste the overcooked flesh of Happy Hooker? Perhaps it is some sleep in my eyes which had yet to be dislodged at this ungodly hour? Not too sure… but better check it out.

The very next morning would see me hit the same spot as yesterday, with absolutely no regrets. I am already addicted to this newly found playground, and as such I arrived slightly earlier than my previous trip. This time there were no other ‘yakkers to be found, no boaties tinkering with oil clogged motors, and no golden oldies cheerfully welcoming the daylight. The wind had dropped off considerably overnight, and what was left in it’s wake was an almost crystal clear passage mirroring the clouds as they were highlighted by the sunrise. My gear was all unloaded, tethered, and double checked, and I was ready to re-awaken the “I am hunter gatherer, hear me roar!” persona. A quick look around just to make sure that I didn’t say that out aloud, and that there were no men in white coats persuading oversized butterfly nets in my direction. :)

Standing ankle deep at the launch spot, and preparing myself to be embraced in Happy Hooker’s arms, I am spellbound by what was hovering around 15 meters in front of me. Now I am no marine biologist, and I have never pretended to be one, however when I see an outline of a fin and the tip of a tail breaking the surface of the water, I would have thought that I could safely come to the conclusion that a shark is hovering nearby. I positioned myself in the ‘yak, detached the paddle, and ever so quietly and timidly moved in towards this unidentified hovering life form. This is no shark! Look at that tail! Mackerel or tuna? Mackerel or tuna? Heads or tails? Paddle re-secured, I quickly slid my hand along Happy Hooker’s waist and grabbed the butt of my spinning outfit. Bail arm open… outfit balanced… and the cast has been operatically performed! Useless fool… slightly short and the fish has descended with a feisty one tail salute. These things happen, it’s not the end of the world. Another species to add to the “what to target in the area” checklist. Rod back into the holder, paddle detached again, time to get myself into a drift pattern.

5… 4… 3…. 2…. 1. There it is again! Fifteen.. maybe twenty seconds after the pathetic excuse of the initial cast, and the fish was back on the surface. This time it will not be giving me the one tailed salute! Bail arm open… outfit balanced… steady the breathing… and splosh. That is exactly where I wanted the flick bait! About 2 foot past the fish, and right in front of it’s cocky nose. Breath mate.. breath.. you can do this. Here we go, let’s tempt it. A couple of flicks will do it… come on mate. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ…….. if you are still reading this, multiply that tenfold please and save me typing it out. It only took one flick, and with an almighty surface lunge, the fish devoured my flick bait and was letting me know in no uncertain terms that it meant business, and that if I wanted to have a bit of fun today, I had chosen the wrong fish to pick on. I can honestly say that I have never hooked onto a fish which has bent my rod the entire way down to the grip. With the initial adrenalin rush similar to 15 short black coffees, I was now wide awake and digging deeply into my mind to hopefully find the remnants of any fishing article explaining how to handle extra oversized fish on bream gear. It’s time to panic.

On most fishing trips I will take two or three rods with me. Usually my kit will consist of two light Berkley IM6 2-4kg dropshot rods, married up with two shimano 2000 reels spooled up with 6lb Berkley Fireline. Add a 6lb Berkley Vanish fleurocarbon leader of approximately 2 meters in length, and you have a very well weighted setup for soft plastic fishing. These outfits will quite comfortably catch you snapper without any problems at all, as well as flatties, bream, etc. You just need to use a bit of smarts to fish with light gear. Quick side note… ahem… Mr Berkley… notice how well I endorse your product? … ahem … call me. :) My other rod is my heavier rod which I use for spinning for pelagics. This setup is an Ugly Stick Platinum 6-10kg rod, paired up with a Shimano Baitrunner 3500 spooled with 14lb Berkley Fireline. 25lbs of 2m Platinum mono to finish off the artwork, and you have a nice setup for some heavier fun. Well.. today would see me only taking one rod on the trip. I came to the decision whilst conversing with my prefish coffee, that I would only need one rod today based upon the previous days experience. Which rod? A 6lb bream setup of course!

Okay.. this is not fun anymore. For future reference, here are the basic ingredients needed to etch a memory in your head which you will not forget for the rest of your life.

30kg kayak
90kg fisherman
2 cups of salt water
2-4kg line capacity rod
one fully spooled 2000 size reel with 6lb braid
2m 6lb fleurocarbon leader
1-1.2m fish of pelagic description

Combine all ingredients together until well mixed, and add salt water. Place mixed ingredients onto a body of water, add one fish with approximate length of 1-1.2m. It is important to ensure the fish is very powerful prior to combining with mixture. Stir well, get comfortable on your favorite chair, and watch the fool actually start believing that this mixture could work out to be a very beautiful relationship.

I can do this. I know I can! It’s all about smarts… patience… and a little bit of prior knowledge on the species of fish. Whether it is a mackerel or a tuna, it will run. It will run bloody hard, but will eventually slow down. If I can get it to that stage I will have the upper hand, and we can go onto stage 2 of the battle. The fish is firmly hooked, and the line is peeling off of my reel at the rate of a thousand knots. The reel is crying out for mercy, and as I watch 100 yards or more line being striped away, my heart rate increases dramatically. I fondle the drag carefully to ensure no line breakage, and the merciful crying from my reel becomes more of a blood curdling scream. It’s time to incorporate the yak into this equation, and try and give a little bit of hurt to the fish.

Happy Hooker is cutting through the water like a hot knife through butter, and the sweat has started to bead on my forehead. I now have a little tinnie by my side being driven by an inquisitive older gentlemen giving me advice left, right, and centre. The fish is still running for it’s life, however line has stopped being aggressively stripped from the reel. Happy Hooker has now ventured approximately one kilometre from the initial hookup location, and “Kansas is going bye bye”. At this rate I will be becoming a little more familiar with the Bribie Bridge, and perhaps even with the Bongaree Jetty if I do not get the situation under control. Lift… wind… lift… wind. It is becoming very familiar now, and every muscle in my body is starting to burn. The last fifteen minutes have been a repetitive collection of gain one meter of line, loose two meters. Gain two meters, loose one. This fish is not forgiving, and is laughing loudly to all of it’s piscatorial friends. “Hey flipper! Hey grinner! Heeeey… good looking! Look what I’ve caught! A big f@cking plastic bathtub with 90 kilos of shark bait on top of it! Check it out!”

Lift and wind… lift and wind. I cannot get any leverage on this bloody fish, and my rod has spent 70 percent of the time in the water almost immersed up to the reel seat. There has got to be a way around this. Incoming bridge… 300 meters. Batten all hatches. And then the skiing across the water’s surface slows right down to a normal drift speed. Up until this point I was unsure as to whether I was dealing with a mackerel or a tuna. Very similar fish in how they fight, but not anymore. With the rod bent beyond breaking point, the line is no longer traveling behind the fish at a 45 degree angle. It is now straight up and down. Oh sh*t. You have got to be kidding me! It’s a tuna, and it’s time for stage 2 of the battle! Please please please let me find some leverage!

And so it begins. The mind numbing, muscle tearing, back breaking fight. The fish is now circling deep below me. This will be the greatest test of my equipment that I will ever give it. Minute after minute the fish that John West would definitely not reject tests my will power and patience. Just like a redneck doing circle work on the lawn, the fish attempts to hypnotize me with it’s uniform circles. Round.. and round.. and round.. and round. Lift… wind…. ZZZZZZZ. Lift… wind…. ZZZZZ. Come on! The water is only 10 meters deep here! I have to be making some progress. Lift.. wind… ZZZZZZ. Lift… wind… ZZZZZZZ. Lift… wind… ??? Huh? Where’s the ZZZZZZ? There’s supposed to be an earth shattering ZZZZZZZ? Lift… wind. Oh yeh! Here we go! It’s time to look this fish in the eyes and let him know that I’m 89kg… not bloody 90kg!

The fight has lasted thirty minutes. Colour has started to show, and the pain in my muscles has been pushed to the back of my mind. The war will be over very shortly, and I will be the one laughing out loud and saying “Heeeey… good looking!”. Here it is! It’s a longtail tuna! It’s a “thank you very much” longtail tuna! I have been chasing these b*stard fish for months now, and I am finally going to cross off the species from my “have not caught from the yak” list! I’m smiling.. I’m bloody grinning from ear to ear. The old chap is still there in his tinny, he’s dribbling on about something, and “I am the champion! I am the champion!”. The tuna is now at the side of the ‘yak, and it’s a pearler! One meter easy… maybe up to 1.2 meters. Let’s get this hunk of shark bait on the yak.


With gaff in hand, rod in my other, and an awesome fish at the side of the yak, it’s time to accept my reward from Neptune, God of the Sea. I position myself accordingly and start moving the rod to prepare myself for the gaffing. A little bit to the left… flap flap flap on the surface. Move the rod slightly more to turn the head of the fish back into the position I need. Here we go. I haven’t used the gaff before, but have seen it done a thousand times. This will be a quick clean and jerk movement. Gaff into the mouth, pull the fish on board, and take a bloody rest. Okay… 3.. 2… 1….. PING!!!!!!! Close your ears for a moment please. F***ing PING! ********* gaff has hit the ****** leader, and it’s gone ****** PING! Flap flap flap…. f***ing gone! F***ing PING!!!

I could easily write that 10000 times over and still not be able to explain how absolutely p***ed off I was. You could not even imagine the amount of cursing words that came out of my mouth at this time. I do not swear too often, but at that moment I could have written an encyclopedia of offensive words and sayings. It was not even a respectful ping! It was an ear piercing, tsunami causing, record breaking f***ing PING! I was heart broken… I was ashamed… I was hurt. I had fought this fish for 30 minutes, made sure that I was concentrating for the entire time. There was not a single moment in the entire battle where I did not know what I was doing. I was using all of the skill that I have learnt from fishing over the last 30 years, and I was in control.

The paddle back to my original launch site was overwhelmingly hard. I sooked like a three year old, continued to curse to my left and to my right, and threw miniature hissy fits along the way. I was shaking from head to toe, and my muscles absolutely ached. This was the hardest paddle I had ever done, both physically and mentally. Absolutely p****ed off.

I sms’ed Ash at this stage as I needed to share the experience with a fellow yakker. Over the next hour I aimlessly drifted up and down the same spot as yesterday. One 45cm cod landed and put into the bag for dinner, but I was not enthusiastic by any means. Any other day the cod would have made the trip, but for today… the trip was over.

Session 3/3

Date/Time: 18 November 2007 / 1500hrs
Wind strength/direction: 15 knot SE easing to 5 knot
Outside temperature: 25C
Water temperature: 24.5C

Trying to push the previous days failure out of my mind, I hit Banksia Beach again with Dave and Ash. The wind was quite fresh, there was a good chance of being rained upon, and I was still feeling quite down from yesterdays debacle.

A few drifts in the area showed a lot of bait on the sounder. There had been a few inquisitive taps, but rather than hookups, they were light passionate pecks. Ash had already hooked up to a legal size squire, but unfortunately dropped it at the boat. So far I had come up trumps and the session was not looking very promising at all.

A good drop in the wind around half an hour later would change the conditions dramatically. The current was not overly strong, and Happy Hooker was no longer being pushed around by the wind. At a guess, I would say the wind was coming in at a maximum of 5 knots. The sun was starting to drop on the horizon and the location was beginning to look a bit more like a postcard. Forget yesterday mate, enjoy today.


<Photo courtesy Ash>

With my spirits slowly lifting, I decided to find a little bit of motivation and make the most of being out on the water. Let’s have a bit more of an explore of the deeper water. I paddled closer to the green marker towards the Avon wreck and the sounder immediately started to show a lot of bait action, as well as plenty of arches under the bait. Exactly what I needed to see. A quick flick of the 4″ minnow in nuclear chicken colour, and whack. Little bit of a run, and a sweetlip is in my grasp. 29cm. That’s okay.. that’s okay. Back in the water you go. Another flick.. another undersized sweetlip. This happened 5 times in the space of 5 minutes. No keepers, but do you know what? It didn’t matter. It was fun, it was exciting, and it was relaxing. A cracker of a way to spend a Sunday afternoon if you ask me.


<Photo courtesy Ash>

A paddle back to the green marker after a 50 meter or so drift, and the exact same conditions showed on the sounder. Whack.. zzzz… flippity flop. A 30cm estuary cod. Quick release back into the water, and the smile had returned back to my face. It’s not always about catching big fighting fish, and gloating to everyone you know about how |—— big ——| the fish were. It’s about getting out there, sucking in some fresh air, and practicing your techniques. For the next 15 minutes we continued this pattern of drifting the reefy area and getting knocks from some feisty little fish. The sun was now setting over the horizon, and unfortunately it was time to call it a day. This was always only going to be a quick afternoon session, and it turned out to be a great relaxing arvo on the water. The sun was rippling over the surface of the water, and was slowly disappearing. It would only be a short paddle back to the shore.

“What’s that over there?” Ash exclaimed. It looks like fins! I have looked over my shoulder instantly, and the heart beat had quickened before I even saw what he was talking about. It’s tuna! :D . I let Ash know that it was exactly the same sort of fin and tail I saw yesterday, and he agreed that at first it looked like a shark! We have chased the tuna out the front of Bribie Island quite a few times, and they behaved completely differently then in the passage. On the outside they are smashing the surface, torpedoing out of the water, and making their presence known. For some unknown reason they just seem to ‘hover’ in the passage, just quietly drifting on the surface with ease. Let’s get the bugger! I paddled, Ash peddled, and we made our way closer to the tuna. Cast.. twitch.. nothing. Cast.. twitch.. nothing. Under the surface the tuna went. Gone. Ash and I continued to make our way back to the shore with our eyes peeled looking for the tuna to resurface. A few chants of “there it is”, and we changed our path for the fish. Gone again. For the final time today the fish surfaced again. Ash had his hard body lure out… cast.. and put it in the perfect spot. A few retrieval twists were followed by two very good surface hits. These split second lunges are enough to make your heart rate increase dramatically. Unfortunately for this round the tuna did not hook up on the lure, but it was great to see the fish in the same spot for the second time in a day.

Back on shore we said our farewells…. commented on how great the spot was…. and briefly discussed the next trip. This will be a spot that will get a lot of attention over the next little while, I am sure of it. What a beautiful piece of paradise, and what a pleasure it is to be able to get out and wet a line. Until next time… stay safe and tight lines.