A few of us Mexicans decided to put our annual South West Rocks trip back a few weeks this year to coincide with the Coffs Harbour round of the Stealth offshore kayak fishing competitions. Thursday around midnight the westie half of the convoy assembled and headed to the servo for last minute checks before heading off for the meeting point at Glenrowan, two and a half hours closer to the NSW border.
The next stop was Yass where Cheater and Kieran nursed their whiplash injuries from Leejo’s driving over breakfast. It seems Cheater’s car doesn’t have cruise control and Leejo isn’t much of a fan of constant throttle pressure. A good run of traffic through Sydney saw us arrive in Coffs Harbour in time to visit Mo Tackle before closing much to the relief of the aforementioned Leejo, the offshore newbie of the group, who had packed rods and reels but not lures or rigging tackle for the trip. With his wallet suitably lightened, we punched the address of the campsite into the GPS and made the five minute trip down the road to our home for the weekend. Cabins 226 and 227 at Park Beach Holiday park became base camp.
A very recognisable carbon fibre ProFisha with orange tip on the roof of the car next door, identified Rokkitkit and Ant as our new neighbours, and with quick stroll around, it quickly became apparent that we had chosen the right campground with a number of Stealths to be seen on the roofs of passing vehicles. There was a great buzz about the place (it may have been residual buzz from Chenski’s snoring during the car trip) and talk moved to tactics for the comp ahead. The forecast was looking pretty good and due to some networking on Cheater’s part, we had some GPS marks in our sounders courtesy of Tommo one of the locals, so even though we hadn’t fished that far up the coast before at least we had an idea where to head once out through the surf.
Mozza and I made the decision to target tuna on livies for the comp, we made the call to leave off the wire traces going on the theory that more bites was a better prospect even if we got the occasional bite-off. Mozz went with two 10-15kg rods with penn 560’s running 30lb braid to 40lb leader with a dusta and 7/0 live bait gammas. My gear was similar with an identical 10-15kg setup and also a 6-10kg snapper stick given the call-up opting to run two spin setups over my other 10-15kg overhead rig. We both also had a lighter 2-4kg setup to run our sabiki rigs.
Comp Day 1
A 5am start saw the trailer loaded and we were off to Digger’s beach for a quick briefing and a run down on the lay of the land from the local crew. Paperwork completed and setup done on the beach, we awaited first light for the launch.
Small surf and the assistance of a rip made for an easy launch and we were on our way to McAuley’s in search of livebait. My first string of livies was stolen and with the obvious presence of mackerel or hoo I was beginning to second guess my choice of tactics. A re-tied sabiki resulted in two lonely yakkas in the bait tube, not the slimeys I was after but a start so on one went on my 6-10kg setup. With livies bridled, Mozz and I decided to paddle from McAuley’s close out towards the second mark out wide. We hadn’t gone far when a rod on both of our skis screamed off. Mine spat the hook during the initial run while Jayme came up tight on his and not long after a solid mack tuna was yakside. It had inhaled the rig and couldn’t be released.
Cheater came on the VHF not long after enquiring on the minimum length for the brown ugly thing he had just caught, making things hard for Dennis without a positive ID. It was settled as being a cod of some sort and was sent back after some happy snaps. Kieran made friends with a blacktip reefie, and not to be outdone Cheater did the same soon after, announcing via VHF that Coffs Harbour gummies have a nice set of teeth. One of the locals got spooled by what was assumed to be a wahoo and Mozz and myself made the call to paddle north towards Karora. About a k from the mark we stopped and drifted while I adjusted views on the new sounder. As is usually the case, when you are not ready for it, both of us at this point had a rod scream off. My light rod again was the target and Mozz was clearly onto a nice fish. Yet again my fish skipped the noose while Mozz settled in for a good fight. Ten minutes later a much larger tuna was circling the yak and much to Mozza’s delight, this one had no ‘leopard print’on its side. I paddled along side to identify his first longtail and Jayme’s new kage gaff got its first use soon after.
Leejo found the fishing tough on day 1 but did manage to catch his rudder (twice). Chenski managed to snag a quality flathead on his sabiki to add to the Vic tally. Back on the beach the photo evidence identified Cheater’s ‘brown thing’ as a point scoring Maori Cod.
We began to refill the trailers and were gifted a nice spottie mackerel by Paul Pallett which was gladly accepted. A Coles run and some re-rigging in the afternoon followed by some filleting and some sesame tuna steaks back at the holiday park. Reflection on the days events made me ditch the snapper rod, the theory being that the rod had too much flex, absorbing some of the impact and preventing the thicker livebait hooks from penetrating the tuna despite having a solid drag setting. Mozz was sitting in a competitive 5th spot after day 1 and was in the best position of the Vics heading into day two.
Comp Day 2
Day 2 saw similar conditions out front, with a little extra wind early on but it died out quickly. Fishing was tougher on the second day with even livies proving hard to find for most on team Vic (expect Cheater who somehow managed to pull a whole string of slimies first up). Chenski and Leejo had hooked some pike and after spending an hour at McAuley’s in search of live bait Mozz and I had only managed two yakkas between us, (along with some more flatties and a few whiting). We rigged one each we opted to follow a similar track to yesterday to see if any more longtails could be found over at Karora. They couldn’t, it turns out, but I did have a brief run on the way out to Marsh Shoal that resulted in my livie becoming a deadie with post mortem revealing the cause of death to be a severely compressed head. The only legitimate catch of the day for me was a solid flattie (late 40’s) coming in on the sabiki. Team Vic came third in the state of origin behind both the yanks and the canadians, Mozza was the highest placer of the Vics with 6th spot. After a BBQ and a chat with some of the blokes we hit the road for South West Rocks where we would spend the rest of the week. A big thank you to Australian Kayak Specialists for organising another great event and to the crew of fisho’s for the hospitality.