#NSC19 – The Wrap Up

Last year’s weather certainly made offshore fishing difficult, but as NSC19 weekend drew closer and the long range forecast began to settle in, it started to look like Saturday’s weather might not be just good, but mint for the first session.  Friday saw Melbourne swelter and messages rolled in from entrant on how best to get their kayaks and skis to Portland without melting as the mercury reached 47°C. Luckily by the time we arrived down the coast the cool change had already hit and unloading the trailer was a much easier affair.

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The cool change hitting Portland on Friday afternoon

7pm saw the briefing take place up on the bluff with members of Coast Guard Portland in attendance to outline the use of smoke flares in an emergency situation out on the water. Welcome packs were distributed and this year saw the inclusion of boat number stickers to make admin and emergency procedures much more streamlined as well as making it easier for Cheater to find where he left his kayak.

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Day 1 – (Fishing Window 6.30am – 2pm)

The morning launch saw mint conditions and a fishing window until 2pm gave entrants time to cover plenty of ground in search of pelagics. Early Yippahs over the radio from team Berleypro suggested that the kings had been located with a video coming through moments later showing Shane Elverd’s knots being tested by a solid king while the surrounding yaks couldn’t land any from that school. Rumours that the paddling within 10m of Marto has a similar effect on kings as a shark shield on noahs has yet to be proven, but there is certainly a strong case for it.

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Shane Elverd with a cracking king

There had been a number of reports of kings out of Nunn’s beach on our arrival on Friday and a portion of the field had headed that way from the start. Mozz was glad he wasn’t relying on his bait tube from South West Rocks when he started pulling in 55cm slimies on his Jack Sayoris hard body. The first two were sent back out as livies for a double hookup soon after. The first rod was handed off to his team mate while he battled and landed the first king only for the second, larger model to bust him off once the rod was returned.

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Jayme Morris with the first king to hit the beach on Saturday

The rest of the field were left to sort through undersized pinkies and rat kings in search of legal models in order to get some points on the board. As the session drew to a close at 2pm anglers had a steady following sea sending them back to the beach at Henty with Cheater’s GPS reading 16kph on the Profisha ‘without much effort’. The weigh in had twenty pinkie snapper entered to see thirteen anglers on the board after session one with 7 ½ points separating the top two anglers going into session two.

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Thankful for the points on the board

Tales of bust offs by kings abounded over pizza and beers for lunch while Bill had caught the most unusual catch of the day – a cuttlefish on a smash squid soft plastic lure, that was after a king took a liking to the small soft plastic he was throwing around on a six kilo rod for snapper, which had a more predictable ending than the Titanic movie.

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Day 2 (Fishing window 6.30am – 11am)

Launch on day two saw calm conditions but the wind had swung offshore and was due to steadily increase throughout the morning along with the swell, while the period was dropping. The shorter fishing window on Day 2 meant that Julia Reef was not fished, which was just as well as reports from the guys that had fished it on Day 1 said their sounder would have had similar screens sitting on the beach.

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Day 2 Launch

The launch on Day 2 also saw the beginning of the Day 2 Dash with bonus prize packs for the first two people back to the beach with a snapper.First prize went to Nev Pollock with his Evolution proving it still has some mojo left. Tristan Davies was next to land a snapper but opted to fish on, figuring someone else would hit the beach first for second place as his was already out wide. That someone else arrived on the beach a few minutes later with Wayne Jensz taking out the second spot.

The cool weather on Saturday and rain overnight coupled with a drop in water temperature did not bode well for kings on Day 2. Sure enough the kings were proving hard to find Shane Esmore located a few but struggled to find the size he was after while William Filliponi also managed to tempt one in the 50’s.

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Live update from William during the comp!

There were still some smaller snapper around that were happy to be hooked and Tas Russos managed to tempt a solid salmon, the only one entered in the comp but overall the fishing on day two was tough and the wind was making things a little bumpy out wide. As the 11am cut off drew nearer the field began the slog back to the beach.  The measuring table saw very few wipes with only a couple of snapper upgrades coming in and many a tale of woe.

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The Results

Early Bird Draw:

Winner: Peter Eaton (BerleyPro Orb Light)

Day 2 Dash:

Target Species: Snapper

Winner: Neville Pollock ($200 Dinga Voucher, AO Cooler, Buff, Dinga Shirt & Cap)

Runner Up: Wayne Jensz (Catch Fishing Lure Pack)

Masters (Entrants born in 1969 or earlier):

Winner: Tas Russos 41pts (Buff, Dinga Cap, Set of Easy2Hook Knotless hooks)

Team Challenge:

  Team Points
1 Long Zebra 77
2 The Mega Powers 73.5
3 The Fishas 69.75
4 Shane Plus 1 33
5 FG Not 20.5
6 Cheater & The Apprentice 18.25
7 Jolly Rogers 15
8 GT South 14.5
Glass is Class 14.5
10 Go Fish 14
Team BerleyPro 14
12 The Mud Brothers 0
The Westies 0
The Portlanders 0

Individual Competition:

  Angler Points
1 Shane Elverd 139.5
2 Jayme Morris 132
3 Tas Roussos 41
4 Nathan Wooldridge 36.5
5 Shane Esmore 34.5
6 Peter Ritchie 31.5
7 William Filliponi 31
8 Tristan Davies 30
9 Neville Pollock 29
Jeremie Steedan 29

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A massive thank you once again to all of the entrants that made the trip down the coast in the sweltering heat to support our comp, it was a great weekend away with a top bunch of blokes. To the offshore first timers, well done on surviving the weekend, I hope you gained some useful experience and built up your confidence to keep giving it a crack. Thanks again to all of our event sponsors, please keep them in mind when making your purchases.

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See you all at #NSC20!

Sea Sherpa

Packing List for NSC

For those new to offshore or just new to our comp, I’ve put together a quick run-though of some of the gear you might want to pack for the trip. It is one of those ‘What is the best soft plastic?’ type of questions, as everyone will have their own ideas on equipment and gear, but here’s a quick run through on what’s legally required and some of the gear I tend to use as well as links to where to find them. It might help you narrow your search a bit. At first glance it may seem like a lot, but not all of the gear will be relevant to each kayaker and the margin of safety needs to be higher offshore as the distances covered are usually much longer and you have the added variable of ocean swells to contend with.

Safety Equipment

First off let’s cover the mandatory safety equipment to meet legal requirements, even if you plan on fishing coastal inshore it is best to be geared up for full offshore as the equipment is smart to have on board anyway and you may find yourself beyond the 2nm  line if you are following the fish!

The following items are not required legally but are highly recommended. Note that a safety flag is a requirement of the comp though, due to feedback we received from boaties in the area last year.

Fishing Gear

Everyone will have their preferred brands when it comes to gear,  again I’ll outline what I use and then you can chase up gear in the weights and capacities outlined in your own brand of choice. With offshore kayak fishing, we can generally run much lighter gear than the boaties use because of the style of fishing. On a boat when fighting a fish a lot of pressure is put on the system – line, knots, rod, drag etc, whereas on a kayak there is a limit to how much pressure we can actually put on a fish before we start getting towed. For this reason, we can run much lighter line classes and there is no need for big-drag reels as you will never be able to use that drag on a kayak in practice. The gear I use is intended for the school fish that I am chasing, you’ll be under-gunned on a barrel tuna, bu then you wouldn’t fit one in the fish hatch anyway!

Trolling

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I also tend to look at my offshore trolling gear as being somewhat disposable, I don’t have to cast with it and if it gets pulled from a rod holder or dunked I don’t want to lose hundreds of dollars’ worth of reels. For this job I tend to favour ‘clunker’ reels that don’t have the refinement of your top end Shimanos and Daiwas but are robust and can take some abuse. I usually carry two Penn stiff tipped glass rods in the 10-15kg weight range paired with Slammers in the 560 class spooled with 30lb braid. They have plenty of usable drag and enough line capacity for school fish at Portland. I’m not casting with them all day so the weight isn’t an issue, they are very easy to strip down and maintain and if a combo should happen to go swimming I’m not out of pocket for very much. A mate of mine that uses the same gear once said “Tell me a reel from Shimano or Daiwa that you can buy for $70 (on Dinga) that you would confidently take offshore to land a tuna on?” You could also go slightly more upmarket and use Uglysticks paired with Spinfisher V’s to give even more water protection and have less frequent strip-downs. In terms of rod length, for trolling I still like a bit of length as it helps to avoid tangled lines out the back, when you have to do darting turns to chase after a bust-up or diving birds. For this reason I don’t run two short trolling rods, usually either two longs (6’6″ – 7′) or a long and a short. If I’m running a long and a short the long rod will be weighted or have a deep diving lure while the short will go straight out the back. Again this helps avoid tangles by letting the lines pass over each other when turning.

Casting

Reels

My casting set-up generally will have a nicer reel and it is usually the only setup I leash on the yak; (I prefer less things to potentially get tangled in). Again, I like a rod with decent length to get better casting distance, personally I don’t see the point of the range of really short ‘kayak rods’ that manufacturers seem to be churning out – they don’t cast very far and you can’t pass your line around the nose of the yak to follow a fish. I like a rod around 7ft usually in the 8-15kg class. This can be matched with a ~5000 size reel with nice smooth drag and decent line capacity for 30lb braid. There are plenty of options in this category of reel depending on how much you want to spend; Stradics, Saragosas, Saltists, Slammer III’s or Conflict, Sorocco SW and Lethal on the cheaper end. It might also be worth having a read of some Alan Hawk reviews to get up to speed with the pros and cons of each offering. Offshore gear will tend to cop plenty of water so serviceability will also be important. Alan Hawk reviews mention difficulty in getting replacement fluids for mag seal units so for my next purchase I’m leaning towards the Sorocco SW.

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At the moment I’m running a Gen Black Nugget, I’ll most likely pair it with a Sorocco SW in 6000 size to edge out my original plan of a Conflict. I plan on dabbling in some jigging too, so when a Gomuku Kaiten comes my way, I figure it could be paired with the same reel as a nice jigging combo. I’ll do a review on the combo once its had a bit of use.

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Electronics

VHF Radios

I’ve owned a couple of radios and found some more robust than others. When you go shopping you can pay a little more for a DSC enabled unit, but as an added safety feature it will communicate your GPS coordinates to all DSC vessels in the area in the event of an emergency.

marine_ic-m23The Icom M series radios are generally considered to be one of the best units around, they are very popular with the offshore yakkers up north. Personally I love my Uniden MH, it hasn’t missed a beat. You can also buy a waterproof sleeve for your radio too which will help protect it in the surf.

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Emergency Position Indication Radio Beacons (Epirbs)

 

EPIRBS are one of those items that are expensive as an initial purchase for something that you hopefully never have to use, but when the cost is broken down over their usable life it becomes a more attractive proposition. The average beacon has a 10 year battery life and if they cost $250-$350 to buy really you are looking at $25 a year. I got my first EPIRB a few years back it was a GME MT600 unit, from memory it set me back around $250. I’ve never had to use it in anger so I can’t comment on its reliability, but I will say that newer units can be purchased with GPS in-built which dramatically improves location accuracy and therefore the search radius should you need to deploy it.

This unit is now available as a MT600G GPs version for $330, but when the battery goes on the current model, I will most likely opt for the more compact offering from Kti, the SA1G. It is a little cheaper at $290 and locally made so it will make life easier if there are any warranty issues.

KTI EPIRB

Speaking of Kti, they also make compact Personal Locator Beacons (PLB’s). These are easy to fit in the pocket of most lifejackets and while they  don’t meet the legal requirements for full offshore fishing,  they are a good piece of kit to have on any type of water. The main advantage of a PLB is that if you are separated from your kayak, your PLB will still be with you, in the pocket of your PFD whereas your EPIRB will be floating away from you on your kayak. The trade off is that unlike an EPRIB, which floats and transmits once activated without further input from the user, a PLB must have its antenna facing upwards and be held afloat by the user.

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The Lure Box

Depending on what is on the chew in January you’ll need to decide on a means of targeting the comp species. With the bread and butter species, like in the bay you can opt for soft plastics or baits. If you want advice on plastics and jig heads you can go straight to the source and have a chat with a couple of our comp sponsors. Allan over at Munroe’s Soft Plastics is always happy to provide advice on plastic choices and John over at Jigman can sort you out with terminal tackle that should see you right to get some points on the board on the day. Both are top blokes, happy to talk fishing and it is always good to give back to the local companies that support us.

If you decide to go all-out for glory and tackle the pelagics, you have a few options to consider. For the kings, you can opt to go with livebait, dead bait, lures or soft plastics. In terms of bait, squid is the go, preferably as a livie but as a fresh deadbait it is also a good option. If the kings are really on they can even take californian squid too. In terms of lures and plastics you are looking at sinking stickbaits and big 10 inch soft plastics with white being the colour of choice for most anglers.

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For the tuna, if you are in a quick boat a small skirt might be an option, Kieran managed to nab a tuna the day before the comp last year using this method. Hard bodies seem to be a better option in the winter tuna season out behind Lawrence Rocks rather than summer on North Shore. From last year’s reports plastics are a better bet here, look for 7″ jerk shads with pilchard/blue flecks. There is always the livebait option too if you can find some slimies!   As the comp draws closer I’m sure the boys at Portland Bait & Tackle will be able to give you the low-down on what is working out on the reefs.

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Clothing

During warmer weather, the more you can cover up, the less sunscreen you have to apply! You should also consider moisture-wicking and drying-times when kayak fishing and as a result do not use any cotton clothing or rash vests as they dry slowly and are cold when wet. Wet suits are great in the water, but out of it they act like a Coolgardie fridge with the wind carrying away your body heat in much the same way as an evaporative cooler does in your home.

Head wear:

There are a couple of options for head wear during summer. You can either go with a hat & buff combo or an all in one flap hat. Buff offer a wide range of face scarves that fit the bill, and an official Buff® buff  can be purchased from Technical Headwear. If you go down the road of an all in one unit, you can get the Adapta-cap from Sun Protection Clothing Australia.

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Upper Body:

Up top long sleeves help cover the skin to protect from the elements. This can be in the form of a light thermal such as the 2P Thermo from Adrenalin or a lightweight UPF50 polo. Again it is a case of avoiding the cotton t-shirts and lycra materials!  If a nice lightweight polo is what you are after, for this year’s comp we’ve teamed up with Sun Protection Clothing Australia to produce a UPF 50 branded fishing shirt with all of the sponsor logos from #NSC18 with a sleek Southern Bluefin Tuna on the back. Profits go to Portland Surf Lifesaving, so you’ll be helping to save your skin as well as beach goers down the coast! You can add one to your entry at checkout when you register for the comp or click here if you want to add one later. On colder days you can layer up with a spray top or cag jacket from Lovig’s or Kokotat.

 

Lower Body:

On sit-on-top kayaks and skis we don’t have the luxury of leg protection from the deck of our boats so again coverage is key. A pair of lightweight UPF paddling pants or cargo pants can do the trick on warmer days such as those available from SPCA or if there is a breeze about a pair of  light thermal pants can do the job nicely again the Adrenalin 2P thermos fit the bill.

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Due to sharps on the beach as well as landing on slippery rocks and reefs, some protection for your feet is very important and often overlooked. So pop a pair of old runners on or pick up a pair of dive boots and you are ready to go!

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If you are having trouble finding some of the gear or need to borrow a spare, feel free to add a post on the NSC Facebook page. You can also hit up some of the other guys for advice on the page or try to glean some more useful info after the briefing.

Tight lines!

Sea Sherpa

Coffs Harbour Stealth Comp

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.

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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.

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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.

Rigging

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Comp Day 2

 

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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.

Tight lines,

Sea Sherpa

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North Shore Challenge Prize Release 2

Sea Sherpa are excited to announce that this beauty, the “Kayak Cart-Beach by Wheeleez” has been added to the prize pool. Beachwheels Australia products have long been a favourite in the kayak fishing community; those tough soft-sand launches are made a breeze using balloon wheel carts. The Kayak Cart –Beach is ideal for fishing skis where scupper carts cannot be used, but it is equally at home under plastic kayaks protecting your scuppers from damage. For all the specs and some demo videos on this cracking prize, check out this link: http://bit.ly/Beachwheels. As always, you gotta be in it to win it. If you’re game, sign up to the event here: http://bit.ly/NSC17

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