First surf launch

I know I had said to family and friends that I wouldn’t try a surf launch until I was completely comfortable on the yak, as well as a bit fitter… but… I couldn’t resist. After the last couple of trips not producing any mentionable catches, I absolutely had to do whatever it would take to get out on the blue stuff and produce some results. No questions asked. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

The week leading up to the trip was fairly ordinary wind wise. There was plenty of breeze around, and it really wasn’t looking that good for the weekend. I had arranged to tentatively go out with a few chaps from the Australian Kayak Fishing Forum, and we were all watching the weather reports and crossing fingers, legs, toes, and any other part of the anatomy you could manage to cross, hoping that the weather would play nice for our Sunday venture through the surf on Bribie’s eastern beaches. As far as the weather bureau was concerned, Sunday would see 15/20 knot westerlies, which in anyones books is not great for offshore fishing, let alone land based fishing. This was not going to stop us, and was certainly not going to stop me. Worst case scenario, the conditions would be too dangerous and we could find other areas around Bribie which are protected from the winds.

“Beep.. Beep.. Beep.. Beep.. Beep..” at 0500hrs on Sunday morning, and I was quick to stop the alarm from waking the rest of the family. A quick peep outside, and low and behold there’s no breeze. Could it be? Could the weather bureau have it all wrong? A quick rub of the eyes to make sure I was seeing correctly, and yep, conditions looked great! Grabbed a quick cuppa, pottered around a little bit getting all of my gear ready, and I was on my way to 8th Avenue by 0545hrs. While I drove over the bridge, it was all confirmed… the water was like glass, and someone up there was making sure that the launch was going to happen! You bloody beauty!

At this point a thousand and one things were going through my head. It’s my first surf launch. Do I put in the scupper plugs for the paddle out? Have I remembered to pack the plugs? Have I got all the gear I needed? Do I rig up a slug for possible tuna encounters? etc etc etc…. Never mind that for now, let’s concentrate on the matters at hand, I’ll be there soon and it will all pull together and “she’ll be right”.

I arrived at the car park at 8th Avenue pretty much dead on 0600hrs, and low and behold there’s Lee all ready to rock and roll. His yak was unloaded, on it’s trolley, and ready to hit the water. A quick shake of the hand and introduction, and things were looking good. It was at this stage that I could hear the break on the beach, and I said to Lee that it sounds like there might be a decent break. The sounds of the waves were quite loud. Surely this can’t be right? We decided to take a quick wander to the beach to check out what the conditions were like, and Lee immediately burst into laughter! Not just a quick snicker, but a full lower belly laugh. The break was about 2 inches high, and I felt like an absolute fool! :) Alright.. let’s get this show on the road!



Michael rolled up in his car at this stage, and again there were some quick introductions and salutations.

It’s at this point that I’ll stop and throw in a reminder for myself. Get off your lazy tail and make a yak trolley!

Some of the lads had trolley’s, so they could load up all their gear and take it straight down the path and to the beach in one hit. I, on the other hand, had to make two trips.. the first with the rods and other miscellaneous items, and then the second with the yak. While this isn’t too bad at the beginning of the trip, you really wish you had a trolley when you arrive back on terra firma and have to carry it all back to the car while you are on the brink of exhaustion after a good 6 hours of paddling.

After 5 minutes of pottering around and setting everything up, it was time for another first. Time for a surf launch. Lee was already out on the water by this stage, and checking out which way the drift was going, double checking his rigs, and getting ready for what would be quite a few hours of paddling and fishing.


Little bit of a break here just in case you need to fetch a cuppa, grab a beer, or top up your preferred choice of poison. While you’re doing that I’ll chat a little bit about the bunker that you can see in the background of the shot above.

During World War 2 it was decided that Australia’s defense needed to be upgraded, and that one of the plans to protect Moreton and Brisbane was to build what would be known as Fort Bribie. There’s a lot of information that you can find on the following website: , including some information about the possible existence of an underground hospital on the north-eastern side of Bribie. It never ceases to amaze me how many interesting snippets of history there are out there just waiting to be explored.

Okay.. so back to the story at hand.

There’s absolutely nothing exciting I can say about the launch. I can’t even make up a story of great heroic acts battling the sea. I’ve had harder times launching from the passage. I was on the water, quickly checking out which way the drift was going, and then making my way towards the channel marker off from the DPI Fisheries department. The sounder was showing plenty of bait fish around, and it looked like it was going to be a cracker of a day… and that is exactly what is was! On my first drift past the marker I was on…. no bite bite bite, just a plain good hit! The reel’s drag was working nicely, and within a minute I had landed my first ever legal fish from the yak! A nice little squire that had absolutely hammered my 4″ Berkley PowerBait. I was chuffed! Actually, more than chuffed.. I was over the moon and back again! Landed the fish in the yak, and fumbled around looking for my fish measure. Hmm… it’s not here. Luckily I know for a fact that my foot is exactly 27cm long, and the fish was was a good couple of inches longer than that. It was confirmed, my first legal fish from Happy Hooker, my personal best squire, and also my first squire from moreton bay. So far it was looking very promising.

At this stage I met Ash who was peddling past in his peddle powered Hobie Outback, and we said the general introductions and salutations. He was kind enough to pull out his camera and take a pic of my first catch so that I could look back on it with pride. Thanks mate.. I appreciate it. I could have packed up my gear and headed home at this point in time, as I had accomplished what I had set out to achieve. How bloody great is this! For the record this was the smallest of the three keepers for the day, measuring in at 42cm. There was no taking away the smile from my dial. :)


Shortly after, I notice Lee paddling up beside me and nodding his head towards a good flock of birds working over an unmistakable school of Longtail Tuna not too far from us. Perhaps 200m away. There was a period of umming and ahhhing, and then it was all sorted. Tuna here we come! Chasing tuna in a yak is hard work… no … I’ll rephrase that.. it’s bloody hard work. If you know anything about tuna, they can be there one minute, and a good kilometer away the next. The most frustrating thing is that they can get spooked pretty easily. Now I have chased them with Dad a few times on his boat, and they disappear as soon as you get too close, but with the yak they just stay there. They are completely oblivious to you being there! Lee’s a good 20m in front of me and he’s smack in the middle of the school. They are a good size… approximately 1m in length, and they are smashing the surface like there is no tomorrow. It was all looking good. A few casts from Lee and he was hooked on, and it was one hell of a fish. It was peeling line off his reel at a great speed, and his yak was being towed behind. Good stuff!!! I start paddling even quicker at this stage to try and keep relatively close to him.. firstly for curiosity sake, and secondly just for safety reasons in case he was towed away a good klm or so. And then his worst fear… it cut him off! It was gone, and all that was left was an empty shell of a man with his head bowed and all dreams shattered in an instant. I felt for him, I really did. It was a good fish, and would be the one you would tell your grand kids about.

Anyhow, the show must go on, and let the chase begin. The only down side was the boats were coming and going from the schools at the same time, and in most cases spooking the tuna to go deep. For the next good hour or so it was a matter of spotting the birds and paddling for dear life. I pretty much tracked along with Ash, and I’m impressed at how well his peddle powered yak moves along in the water. Might add that yak to a “must take a look” list for the future. At one stage I managed to get smack in the middle of a school and swear I could have put my hands out and grabbed one of these beauties straight from the water. I had a large metal lure rigged up and casting, but wasn’t having any luck. I watched a large fish chasing the lure at one stage, but it wasn’t interested in taking a punt. For the next trip I am going to put on a smaller raider, or try for a 5″ soft plastic. I motioned to Ash that the tuna were close by on his port side, and first cast he was on. As quickly as he was hooked, he was also let down with the fish spitting the dummy and giving him back his plastic in one piece.

After exhausting myself paddling around and chasing the schools of tuna, I had come to the conclusion that I needed to get back in towards the channel marker to try for a couple more keepers. It was the exact same routine, drift past the marker, spot the fish on the sounder, and whack… bring them to the boat. It was not long after this that I was on to my second keeper. It fought quite a bit harder than the previous keeper, and was landed shortly afterwards. Slightly bigger then the last, and it was starting to get that nice little pronounced lump that snapper have on the heads. This one measured in at 47cm, which was a tad bigger than the first, however quite a bit thicker. I’m in heaven at this stage. I already had my PB, I was already stoked, and now I had a new PB and another catch to help me win fishing tokens from Gaenor at home. Here’s a quick shot of the two smaller keepers nicely modeled by my youngest son Bailey.


It was at about this time that Michael had drifted past and said that he was going to call it a day. The poor bugger hadn’t managed a bite all day, and was cursing the frozen bait which he purchased on the way up. A quick goodbye, and he was off, busily planning in his mind the next trip and how he would tackle it.

Lee, Ash, and myself spent the next couple of hours drifting around the general area of the channel marker. Ash was on fire and managed well over a dozen squire for the day, albeit the majority being under the legal limit. Poor Lee couldn’t turn up trumps after the tuna episode. His mojo was broken, and it was all over for this trip. It was starting to get a little repetitive at this stage, and I wasn’t getting any hits apart from an undersized flathead that decided to be greedy. I was hovering around the marker and saying to the lads that I might try just one more drift and then call it a day. There was a definite feeling in the air that it was just about over for this great trip.

Whilst drifting in front of the marker, within about 10m or so, I was looking at the sounder and noticing a heck of a lot of action deep down. This had been pretty much the same scenario all throughout the day. The spot just looked plain fishy, and I was saying to Ash that “I’m amazed that the sounder is showing so much activity, but there is nothing….” WHACK! The plastic was hit, and it was hit hard. Line was spooling, and the absolutely beautiful ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ sound of the drag was singing. This is big… whatever it is… it’s big, and it’s powerful. Now, at any other time this would be a great scenario, however I was in a bad situation. A big fish was on, and it was on my lighter rod, which was spooled with 6lb braid with a 2m 8lb fleurocarbon leader. This isn’t the bad part, as I believe any good fisherman can play a fish on light gear, and as long as they are patient and don’t run out of line, they will land it. My problems were this… a heavily oyster encrusted channel marker, a fast drift, and a fish that was thinking it was smarter than me. The fish had moved straight for the shelter of the marker, and I had drifted past the marker by 15m on the opposite side of the fish. My line was wrapped against the oysters and barnacles, and the fish was still taking line. It was time to make a decision. I could quit and just try and pull the fish around the marker, or I could use some smarts. I opted for the second option. I placed the rod in the rod holder and paddled against the tide to get back around the marker. The entire time I was looking at my line which was nice and snug against the barnacles. If I pull this off, it would be the unluckiest day of this fish’s life. Once I maneuvered around the marker, and made sure that I was past it drift wise, I grabbed the rod and applied some pressure. It was still there! The fish was still hooked! I started to apply some pressure, and the fish still continued to take a little bit of line. All the negative thoughts were going through my head. Surely the line has to be on breaking point? I yelled out to Ash that it must be a stingray or something similar, as it’s just not bumping around like a snapper, but I couldn’t be so far from the truth. As colour started to show, I said out loud “it’s a monster!”. And it was. This was the largest squire/snapper I had ever caught from the yak, or from Moreton Bay. I gently grabbed the leader and caressed the fish into the yak… grabbed the fishgrips to make sure I had a good hold, and held it up high to signify my amazement and awe. I was over the moon, ecstatic, amazed, excited, relieved, and just plain lucky! Here’s Zach modeling my PB squire/snapper. It measured in at 52cm, which is a cracker in my books, even though the ink hasn’t even started to dry yet.



It was finally time to call it a day. I had paddled and drifted approximately 13klms, had managed to get 3 PB squire/snapper in one session, and had instantly become addicted to hitting the ocean in the yak. Landed back on the beach, packed up all the gear, and got sorted for the short trip home. Said a quick ciao to the lads, and headed back home with a smile that could have lit up the night sky. It was great meeting up with some new fishing buddies, and great to be able to share the experience with like minded souls.

Arrived home, stood up straight, beat my chest, and smiled while my kids were excitedly looking over the fish and giving their giggles of approval. Cleaned the catch, put two in the freezer for later eating, and placed the night’s dinner proudly on a tray of ice. Gaenor did an absolutely brilliant job of preparing and cooking the smallest of the catch, and I grabbed a nice cold beer and started up the bbq to cook some kebabs, risoles, and vegetables to accompany the fish.



You can’t bbq without an apron which says “What time is it? It’s beer o’clock!” :)


What a way to end a truly exceptional day. Nice fresh food, a happy family, and a good cold beer or three. It doesn’t get much better than this. Ciao for now.