Sunny Coast Offshore Yakking – Barry Stevenson

The weather prediction for the day was light winds and half a metre of swell; perfect for an offshore kayak fish with a beach launch. I was aiming for a bit of fun chasing sweetlip or squire and if I could get a few on plastic, all the better.

The plan was to head to some of the more remote/small areas that boats don’t bother with. Stumers Creek at Coolum is one such place that has a great car park with a hose for washing your kayak down at the end of the trip. It’s relatively easy to drag your yak over the sand and onto the beach.

There are some rocks just out in front that you need to be aware of but you can go left or right. The main area of reef is to the left though so that’s where I went.

Well the prediction for half a metre of swell was a bit off. I had a rising tide with 1.2m of curling swell facing me. The surfers appeared to be enjoying it though. My kayak is a Malibu X-factor which is 14ft long and has 3 large locking hatches for the gear as well as a large removable lid at the front for larger things like rods and a dry sack of clothes. Since I’d made the drive and the worst that was going to happen was that I would get wet, I made the decision to progress. I loaded everything below in the hull so if the worst did happen, I wouldn’t lose everything.

Inflatable life vest on, I dragged the yak into the shore dump and jumped on; everything okay until the first set of waves, then it happened, smashed and rolled over. I quickly jumped back up grabbed a hold of the front to turn it into the waves before jumping back on hitting it again, I was hit by a few more big ones but managed to stay upright and got out the back with the adrenaline flowing and lungs heaving. Saturated but safe. Here is where that dry sack of clothes comes in handy.

I paddled towards the reef marks that I had preloaded on the Garmin Stiker GPS and noticed some nice arches appearing on the relatively flat sandy bottom. I was only fishing light outfits because if you go too heavy you can have a hard time breaking it off when you get snagged.

I run 2 outfits, one is an 8ft, 3-6kg Kato graphite 2 piece with a 4000 Daiwa Crossfire running 10lb braid and 15lb Vanish leader. The other is an older 9ft fibreglass 2 piece with a 4000 Shimano Sienna with 15lb braid and 20lb Vanish leader. The 2 piece rods make it easy to get in and out of the kayak hatches.

I had a 100mm Squidgy plastic in Drop Bear colour on the lighter rod at the ready and on my second cast came up tight to a very fat 56cm grass sweetlip. A great way to start but 2 casts later it was smashed again and a 52cm squire reluctantly made its way to the yak. Great fun on light gear in 17m of water.

I didn’t get any more hits for a while so I elected to continue to the reef proper and drop anchor. I use a homemade anchor with light wire prongs that will bend when I need to retrieve it.

The reef here doesn’t look like much so it can take a while for the smell of your baits to start attracting fish and I’m reluctant to use berley due to the shark factor. My first baits down are usually flesh and in this instance it was bonito. I find that the flesh gets shredded quickly but it acts as its own berley bringing the fish in from a long way.

Fishing with 2 rods I found that I couldn’t keep up; when I was unhooking one fish the other rod would go off. I hooked one nice fish which ran before it eventually cut me off on the reef so I went back to one rod at that point and found that the hook up rate was better as I could concentrate more.

I finished fishing when another fish busted me off and I kept remembering the size of swell. I left the reef having caught a nice mixed bag. Some were kept for the table and some released.

I got back to the shore break and as they were breaking from a long way out it would take me a while to get through them. I waited until a large set went through then went hard. I managed to get through the first set and rode a couple of small ones through the gutter and finally had a large set come through and clean me up. Tipped again. But this time I was only in 2 feet of water.

It was a cold wet walk up the beach before washing it all down and loading it back on the car.

Still worth it though.